IBM hires Paul Bergevin for cybersecurity comms role

Former Intel global comms head Bergevin returns to IBM as the latest addition to a revamped global communications team, which is now led by Mike Fay reporting into Jon Iwata.

Paul Bergevin
Paul Bergevin

NEW YORK: IBM has recruited former Intel lead communicator Paul Bergevin as its first VP of cybersecurity communications.

Bergevin, who was VP of sales and marketing and GM of global communications at Intel until late last year, will move from Silicon Valley and be based in Washington, DC.

He joined Intel in 2007 after a career at PR agencies including Edelman, Citigate Cunningham, and Certive.

Prior to his agency career, Bergevin worked for IBM from 1985 to 1994, starting as a paid intern in the company’s public policy unit before eventually rising to director of global communications for its PC division.

Richard Edelman poached Bergevin from IBM to head the agency’s global tech practice, which he grew to a $40 million unit within five years.

Bergevin starts work immediately and will report to Mike Fay, who succeeded Ben Edwards as IBM’s VP of global communications in August last year.

"We have a very strong history in our communications function and Mike is putting a strong emphasis on talent," Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications for IBM, told PRWeek. "Paul [Bergevin] will focus on cybersecurity communications, but he is knowledgeable in all areas."

IBM’s security business has been growing significantly and Iwata said the hiring of Bergevin is a sign of that. "He will help us with cybersecurity issues and policy, as well as our own business," said Iwata. "He’s a great addition to the team."

According to an internal memo from Fay seen by PRWeek, Bergevin will work with the IBM Security Unit and the broader marketing and communications team to build a "differentiated position around security for IBM - in both the industry and policy dimensions of our communications strategy."

Fay noted that cybercrime costs half a trillion dollars a year and "presents an historic challenge to our clients" and a "very real threat to consumers and society."

"IBM has a responsibility to help educate and create a more productive discussion in the public policy realm, where the issues in cybersecurity are critically important and extremely complex," added Fay in the memo. "Paul will be working closely with our government and regulatory affairs team to help us engage and lead that dialogue."

Iwata explained that IBM continues to put the right investments into communications and is still "looking to add talent and firepower to our communications team."

Edwards was promoted to the position of VP of global communications and digital marketing in January 2013, from his previous role as VP of digital strategy and development. He reported directly to Iwata, with the intention of giving Iwata fewer direct reports.

In terms of Edwards’ change in role, Iwata said: "It became clear last year that Ben couldn’t be expected to do both of those things [comms and digital]. In August, Ben returned to concentrating on digital marketing."

Edwards is now global VP of digital marketing and reports to John Gallagher, IBM’s VP of performance marketing and market development. Edwards is responsible for digital marketing in support of digital commerce, including transactions and customer acquisition.

"That’s increasingly what the marketing side of our organization does," said Iwata.

Gallagher is one of Iwata’s direct reports, with the others now including Fay; Buell Duncan, VP of portfolio marketing; Mary Garrett, VP of marketing and communications, global sales and distribution; Stan Litow, VP of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs; and Kim Kispert, VP of marketing and communications operations.

IBM has endured tough times in the past few years, posting 11 successive quarters of falls in revenue, with the latest in Q4 2014 a year-on-year drop of 12% to $24.11 billion.

"Without minimizing the challenges we face, reinventing itself is what IBM is all about," said Iwata. "Every decade needs a new IBM and we’re in the middle of that process now."

IBM continues to use Ketchum and Text100 as its principal PR agencies and Iwata said there were no plans to discontinue those arrangements.

"Our agency partners are stable and there are no changes on that front," he added.

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