Hotwire's new CEO calls for aggression and risk-taking culture as agency unveils new global strategy

Hotwire's new CEO Barbara Bates has called for the agency to take more risks and "be a bit more aggressive" as it looks to shed its "humble" persona.

Hotwire CEO Barbara Bates wants the agency to take more risks
Hotwire CEO Barbara Bates wants the agency to take more risks

Speaking to PRWeek UK ahead of the launch of Hotwire's new global strategy, Bates said the agency had always been "a bit humble". She said: "We aren't going to become arrogant but we are looking to be a bit more aggressive as an agency."

According to Bates, this attitude shift reflects the agency's attempted evolution from a predominately tech PR-focused business to one that also offers integrated comms for consumer and health technology clients on a global scale.

She said of the firm's new logo (below, underneath old logo): "This is more than a brand overhaul. This is about the bold new direction we have taken with our business - to go beyond PR, beyond borders and beyond b2b tech. It's a celebration of our evolution as an agency and the limitless mindset we've created within our team and clients."

Hotwire logo

This mindset, Bates said, includes taking more risks as an agency. "The PR industry is changing dramatically and if you aren't testing and pushing things, you tend to fall behind." She added that part of the agency's growth involved hiring entrepreneurial people who wanted to try new things. "While it is risky for the business, we encourage people to follow their passions and build their expertise in particular areas." 

Hotwire has also changed the way it approaches pitching to offer clients an integrated approach. She said: "Typically when clients come to us with a channel-specific brief, we tend to come back with a channel agnostic approach. Sometimes that might confuse people, but sometimes it opens eyes. It's about showing Hotwire to be different from its competitors."

Acquisition kickstarts new approach

Bates has led the agency since May, seven months after the tech PR firm she founded, Eastwick, was acquired by Hotwire. This, she said, was a major factor that helped kick-start Hotwire's new approach.

The agency has also recently opened offices in Minneapolis and Mexico City in the US and plans to open a new office in Boston, Massachusetts later this year, she said. 

Added to this, Hotwire also promoted Alex MacLaverty to the role of chief operating officer in June, and Emma Hazan to the role of global head of consumer in July. Both are based in the UK. 

Asked why the agency felt the need to rebrand, Bates said: "It's because who we are today looks very different to who we were a year ago."

Read next: Three new agencies and more to come: How The Academy is quietly building a PR empire

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