Yahoo! plans to hire PR agency for search engine blitz

LONDON - Yahoo! UK & Ireland is in advanced discussions with four agencies ahead of a battle for a contract involving the promotion of its search engine capabilities.

Revolver Communications, TheFishCanSing, Cow PR and Naked Communications are the agencies understood to be about to lock horns in a scrap for a contract.

PRWeek understands that Yahoo! is prepared to spend up to £2m on activity coordinated by the selected agency. The account will involve non-traditional PR, such as guerrilla marketing and event-based promotional work, and an appointment is expected within weeks.

It is understood that the focus of the promotional activity will be a single major event that is set to take place in England later this year.

The communications blitz will aid Yahoo!'s bid to compete with market-leader Google in the internet search market. Yahoo! wants to become the number-one global provider of search.

The internet company currently retains Cow to handle its consumer PR and Revolver to promote its Yahoo! Personals service.

A Yahoo! spokesman confirmed that 'meetings' were ongoing with agencies. He declined to comment on the fees of the planned PR contract.

The spokesman stressed that the company's pre-existing contracts with PR and marketing agencies -- such as Cohn & Wolfe, which handles corporate PR and press office work for Yahoo! Personals -- were not being reviewed.

Yahoo! is investing heavily to strengthen its search engine capabilities, having bought paid-for search companies Inktomi and Overture and French online shopping comparison service Kelkoo within the past 12 months.

It is understood that Yahoo! UK & Ireland marketing director Yonca Brunini is planning imminent further discussions with the four agencies battling for the new account and that head of PR Georga Douglas and PR manager Jon Wayth are also involved in the review.

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