Hotwire global CEO: 'Clients should avoid arse covering, Aussie media is pretty snarky'

PRWeek recently sat down with Hotwire global CEO Barbara Bates for an hour to discuss all matters PR and the wider the industry. Here are a few of her pearls of wisdom and a video of what Hotwire gets up to when clients aren't around.

What do you think about all this kerfuffle on rebranding to ‘PR’?

"For many agencies that have moved along the path to offering a lot more skills and moving away from the PR name, the fact is most of our clients come to us because they are looking for a public relations agency. All these years when agencies struggled to describe themselves without using the ‘PR’ term, they’re now just thinking, ‘screw it, now that PR is fashionable again, we’re going to call ourselves PR’."

What can PR learn from ad agencies?

"They know how to price it, present creative ideas and sell it in ways most communications firms do not. Ninety-nine per cent of them use Powerpoint slides with a bunch of bullets on them. They think more is better and go right to tactics versus rather than getting people to buy into the creative and underlying strategy."

What are your views on measurement?

"Clients like the idea of it but don’t want to dedicate their budget to measurement. There is a type of client who looks at measurement as a way to justify their job, so they will direct measurement to happen in a certain way, which may not be the best way or the most insightful way. I like to call that ‘arse covering’. We try to get clients to use the analysis that you would use for measurement to drive strategy at the start of a campaign."

How does media relations differ by region?

"The media in each country has a different flavour. I think the Australian media is pretty snarky. The German media is all about data and anything that sniffs of marketing – they won’t pay attention to it. We have this problem, where a client from the US is now working with us in Germany or France and they to duplicate what they’ve done in the US. Our teams are telling them that won’t work, but they don’t want to hear that. In the US, they are the furthest ahead in digital transformation."

And what about the UK?

"They are phenomenally strong at client relations too. We do a client survey and the UK team is rated really high for creativity and this is being driven by media relations."

What does Hotwire do for fun?

"We have a Bootcamp each year where we bring all of our staff to a single place to get to know each other and it really drives much better collaboration. Recently we held a ‘festival’ with yurts and live music, silent disco and talks."

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