What worked wonders for IBM in Germany might not necessarily fly in the US. When IBM's AOR Text 100 found that service-oriented architectures worked successfully overseas, the agency brought the concept here. And, according to the firm, it has its in-house communications system, an intranet shared by its global offices, to thank.
Text 100 uses TextNet, powered by Vocus, to keep its staffers in the loop from San Francisco to Singapore, says Scott Friedman, SVP and lead of the firm's New York office. Incorporating that kind of system can be an important tool for PR agencies to streamline accounts spread across the world in different time zones.
On international accounts like IBM, Xerox, and Phillips, Friedman says, Text 100 manages staff in multiple countries and has to keep everyone on the same page. In these instances, one of the key benefits of TextNet is that it changes the work flow.
"Usually you burn a fair amount of hours just reporting to the client," Friedman says. "That is not the best use of the client dollar. They would rather you were on the phone talking to reporters."
Using a secure software suite such as TextNet helps centrally manage media and analyst relationships, adds Radley Moss, a Text 100 account manager. These systems include interactive e-mail campaigns, documents, projects and news, and online newsrooms.
"The portal provides an easy and fast way of exchanging information and collaborating," Moss says. And it frees an account's lead PR team from administrative tasks, allowing it to focus on higher-value work by automating many aspects of PR operations.
Wasabi Publicity has 10 team members in various states and in Germany, says Christine Louise Hohlbaum, a PR consultant with the firm. She says staffers keep in the loop by using Presskit247, a Web-based technology.
"It gives paperless business a whole new meaning," Hohlbaum says. She adds that the practice of using online press kits has created incredible results for Wasabi's entire client base, with the content-management aspect an efficient way to keep track of outreach.
"We can run a report on clients in real time and know exactly who's been contacted when," she says.
Lewis PR, another international agency, has its own information-sharing system, says Tim Wheatcroft, the firm's San Diego-based business development director.
Lewis' extranet displays all activities in each market, from the status of press releases to forthcoming speaking opportunities, as well as links to all media coverage.
Wheatcroft adds that clients can also edit and upload releases to the extranet, so an audit trail of material in progress can be maintained.
The key to using intranets and extranets is to keep them up-to-the-minute, so no one gets stuck with outdated company information during a news crunch.
"File sharing has evolved from the dreaded shared folder," says Michael Cummings, business development manager of New York-based Kellen Communications. Kellen uses wikis, which are accessible and editable by anyone on the agency or client team.
"It keeps information as fresh as possible," Cummings says. "And it saves time."
File-sharing software and wikis allow international staff to keep on the same page, day or night
Clients can access information as well, allowing agency time to be spent on higher-value work
It's crucial to keep the intranet information as current as possible