CA enlists Edelman for consumer-focused push

NEW YORK: CA (formerly Computer Associates) has hired Edelman to handle several efforts, including launching a consumer-directed blog written by CA executives.

NEW YORK: CA (formerly Computer Associates) has hired Edelman to handle several efforts, including launching a consumer-directed blog written by CA executives.

The information technology software company, based in Islandia, NY, was looking for an agency with offices in Manhattan. Edelman bested three others in the shootout. There was no incumbent agency defending in the review, though CA still works with Hill & Knowlton's sister tech firm, Blanc & Otus, on other segments of its business.

"While all of the firms were excellent, Edelman impressed us with its creativity and blogging capabilities," said Jessica Cassady, CA PR director. "We were looking for a PR partner rather than just a PR firm, and Edelman fit the bill."

The value of the account was undisclosed.

Edelman, which begins work for CA on June 1, will focus heavily on media relations, product reviews, and blogging, the latter being a first for the consumer division, said Erin Farrell-Talbot, SVP of Edelman's tech practice.

She said the firm's assignment will be to put CA on the minds of consumers - while the company is widely known among IT professionals, it's not as popular among the average computer user. CA wants to achieve the name recognition that competitors Symantec and Norton already have, so PR efforts will have to take a more aggressive stance.

"They are looking to hit it up a notch," Farrell-Talbot said.

Steve Rubel, SVP of Edelman's Me2 Revolution practice, presented the blogging proposal to CA. He said in order to speak to consumers, companies need to find places to reach those who influence purchase decisions in families. Most of those people are online and read blogs. So it's smart to go after these influencers where they are, he said, not just through the usual venues.

"We think any PR program has to take 360-degree approach, especially with a tech product, and especially with a consumer tech product," Rubel said.

He said Edelman is still determining who will write the content of the blogs, but it is not limited to executives and guests.

The first campaign and product the agency will work on hasn't been determined.

Hiring Edelman for this assignment was just one of several recent changes at the software company. Last month, Bill Hughes was hired as SVP of corporate communications, from IMS Health. Hughes' responsibilities include PR, public affairs, executive communications, employee communications, community relations, and industry relations operations.

In November 2005, the company changed its name from Computer Associates to the acronym CA.

International president and CEO John Swainson announced the change at a CA World 2005 presentation in Las Vegas, where he said CA needs to do a better job of communicating with its customers about direction. The rebranding changes the company's logo by moving the two letters closer together to illustrate the unification of the company's enterprise IT management technology vision.

Clients already referred to the company in the abbreviated form, so the name change was made official, Cassady said.

CA's changes come two years after a high-profile accounting scandal that cost one-time chairman and CEO Sanjay Kumar his job. In 2004, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation accused the company of falsely reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for licensing agreements for deals that had not yet been signed.

The company was forced to pay shareholders $225 million in fines.

In April, Kumar, along with former global head of sales Stephen Richards, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in federal court.

CA's consumer products include Internet security software, such as eTrust Antivirus and eTrust PestPatrol AntiSpyware.

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