CA selects H&K and Access for new PR push

NEW YORK: IT management software company CA has selected Access Communications to handle its product PR and Hill & Knowlton for corporate PR. The agency selections follow a competitive search that began late last year.

NEW YORK: IT management software company CA has selected Access Communications to handle its product PR and Hill & Knowlton for corporate PR. The agency selection follows a competitive search that began late last year.

Bill Hughes, SVP of global communications at CA, told PRWeek the RFP was issued to less than 10 agencies, then narrowed to four firms at the end of February. Incumbent on the product PR account, Blanc & Otus, declined to rebid the business, but several people from the firm participated in sister agency, H&K's, pitch. The new agencies will transition into their roles in May.   

“We had a long process and long evaluation process,” Hughes said. “And it was debated by PR, marketing, and senior executives.”

He added that while procurement was involved in the process, “They did not lead the discussion, nor did they dictate hourly fees.” He confirmed the business totals seven figures.

The new agencies join the company at a major inflection point. CA recently named Bill McCracken as CEO following John Swainson's five-year tenure. The company faced scandal after former CEO Sanjay Kumar was indicted on financial fraud charges in 2004.

“The five years John [Swainson] was CEO was about fixing the company and making sure customers knew that CA was going to be around, be stable, and produce great products,” Hughes explained. “Now it is about regaining leadership in the areas where we want to focus.”

The company wants to showcase its range of products, as well as build awareness for its strides in virtualization and cloud computing.

“We are refocusing our efforts on where the industry is going,” Hughes said. “We're going to continue to maintain our core revenue driving products and solutions, but now moving the discussion toward virtualization and cloud, while still talking about mainframe.”

CA forecasts revenues totaling up to $4.4 billion in FY 2010.

“A few years ago, CA decided not to pursue major media, because we wanted to make sure that we were in position to do that,” Hughes said. “We've decided we need to reconnect with major media and start up-leveling the messaging from a corporate perspective.”

The PR efforts will include traditional media relations, internal communications, AR, government relations, branding and marketing, thought leadership, and social media and digital. Hughes commented that CA hasn't always made its PR agencies an extension of its team, but it plans to change that going forward. 

For its corporate task, H&K will also tap into its M&A and government relations experience. Access will focus on vertical and horizontal publications, in addition to social media. Thought leadership is going to factor heavily into the work of both agencies.

“[We feel] thought leadership is really about having a point-of-view and perspective and putting a stake in the ground about what your perspective is – no matter what it is,” he said. “We have permission to actually come out and speak not just on behalf of the industry, but even on issues outside the industry.”

For example, the team is considering thought-leadership opportunities around sustainability and measuring carbon footprints for businesses.

Mark Hampton, CEO of B&O, said the agency “had a great seven-year relationship with CA and we are very proud of the work we've done.” He declined to say whether the loss would result in layoffs in the Boston office, which was the hub for the business.

“Boston is still one of the very important tech hubs and we want to grow that business in Boston, not shrink it down,” Hampton said. 

“CA is a classic tech brand that now has a revitalized future opportunity with new leadership and market direction,” said Josh Reynolds, global tech practice leader for H&K. “And H&K's sweet spot has been with working with companies who are starting that new chapter in their history.”

Michael Young, SVP at Access Communications, added that he believes CA “is well-positioned given the growth of cloud and data management. Those are areas where Access also has brand strength.”

CA continues to work with Zeno Group for its Internet Security business.

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