Raytheon taps Text 100 as new corporate AOR

WALTHAM, MA: Raytheon has selected Text 100 as its new corporate AOR, following an approximately two-month, two-round RFP process.

WALTHAM, MA: Raytheon has selected Text 100 as its new corporate AOR, following an approximately two-month, two-round RFP process.

Details of the contract weren't provided, though Text 100 North America regional director Scott Friedman counted the award as among his company's "top five" current accounts. Work will cover what Mac Jeffrey, Raytheon VP of global PR, described as "mainstream corporate PR," including promotion of the company's technology and its philanthropic activities - including its MathMovesU scholarship program for students. Targeted audiences will include the US Department of Defense (DoD), overseas governments, "inside the Beltway" decision makers, and the general public.

Weber Shandwick previously served as AOR for the Fortune 100 defense manufacturer and government contractor, which generated close to $22 billion in revenue in 2006. The agency will continue to handle Raytheon's corporate reputation work. That work is led by Micho Spring, chairperson of the US corporate practice.*

Jeffrey said the decision to hire a new corporate AOR is part of a broader effort in the past few years by Raytheon to consolidate its operations and focus more narrowly on defense and government contracting. The consolidation coincides with a recent trend by defense firms, faced with a more competitive, globalized market, toward more open promotion of their businesses.

"We've refined our business portfolio back down to our core competencies, defense and government business, which naturally revolve around technology products," said Jeffrey, who noted that Raytheon recently sold off its Raytheon Aircraft corporate jet business. As part of the general makeover, Raytheon CEO William Swanson over the past two to three years has sought to expand PR outreach to help boost sales.

"It's really just about brand awareness - general promotion of the company name and image," Jeffrey said. "Ten to 12 years ago, defense company PR was like an oxymoron. They didn't do it. They would wait for the phone to ring, and if it rang, more often than not the answer was, 'No comment.' That's completely changed. Not just for us, but for everybody."

Though Text 100's work with Raytheon will initially focus on the US market, with the firm primarily handling work out of its Boston, Seattle, and New York offices, outreach will increasingly focus overseas, where Raytheon expects to see the bulk of its future growth.

Text 100, which helped Raytheon with communications at recent trade shows in India and Abu Dhabi, said its network of 30 worldwide offices and affiliates will help with communications in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.

That global focus is in part due to an expected leveling off of US military spending. The DoD is Raytheon's largest customer, but while US defense spending increased following 9/11 and the US military-led invasion of Iraq, ongoing operations costs in Iraq and Afghanistan are threatening to crowd out some funding for the kinds of tech programs for which Raytheon serves as a contractor.

Congressional committees are currently considering 2007 US defense appropriations, which could total more than $530 billion, and some industry observers say Democratic control of Congress could mean tighter future spending. But Jeffrey said he expects US military budgets to remain strong, as neither Republicans nor Democrats are typically willing to curb defense spending.

"Neither party right now wants to appear soft on the issue," he said.

While Friedman noted that online outreach will be a key part of Text 100's work for Raytheon, particularly for the MathMovesU program, Jeffrey noted that given the much lower profile Raytheon maintains overseas compared with the US, traditional communications, including earned media, attendance at trade shows, and advertising, remain crucial.

"For a company like IBM, [for instance], it's been established and highly visible in a place like Japan for 50 years, so to raise the bar, it needs to branch out into more imaginative and even exotic activities," Jeffrey said.

"We're not starting from zero," he added, "but we're starting from a much lower base, where traditional PR activities [abroad] can still substantially move the needle. In India and Abu Dhabi, just getting quoted in the local papers and being on TV... that's still a big shift."

*This was not included in the print story. 

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