Cisco bids to formalize PR work as it searches for AOR

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco Systems is about to launch a massive search for what is likely to be its first corporate AOR in the US.

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco Systems is about to launch a massive search for what is likely to be its first corporate AOR in the US.

Claudia Ceniceros, senior director of corporate PR, confirmed the IT networking company would soon conduct a review for a corporate AOR in the US. Ceniceros said she could not recall whether the company, which does not currently have an AOR, has had one in the past.

"We work with a variety of PR firms on a project basis, and now we think this is an ideal time to engage an AOR, on the corporate side, to support our corporate team in the US," explained Ceniceros. "We believe we could benefit by identifying an AOR to support us."

Cisco currently works with Applied Communications on corporate projects.

"The time is right for this," added Ceniceros. "Cisco is almost 20 years old. And while the company has undergone some challenges in the last few years, Cisco has emerged strong from the downturn."

PRWeek has also learned that Jerry Swerling, a Los Angeles-based PR management consultant, will advise Cisco during its search.

As the review has yet to actually begin, Ceniceros could not provide any details other than that she hopes to have the agency selected by the fall.

Although corporate work does not tend to provide billings on par with product or technology PR, a company such as Cisco conducting a search will certainly bring agencies out of the woodwork - ones that have seen tech PR budgets shrink while RFPs and reviews have become more drawn-out.

Cisco follows in the footsteps of other top tech companies seeking agencies of record recently, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Siebel Systems.

The move to find a corporate PR AOR comes at a time when Cisco has sought to strengthen its brand and reputation.

Cisco recently hired Ogilvy & Mather as its advertising agency of record. Also earlier this year, Cisco launched a $200 million global branding campaign that included PR. The campaign sought to position Cisco as the leader in networking technologies, and garnered heavy media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the San Jose Mercury News and other print, broadcast, and online media.

With the tagline, "This is the Power of the Network. Now," the campaign focused on how Cisco's networking technologies include the internet, intranets, IP telephony, storage networking, mobility, and security to make businesses and people more productive and successful.

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