Aarti Shah 18 May 2020 // 11:21PM GMT
To not only survive, but thrive, in the fast-moving world of technology for more than 25 years is remarkable. Hotwire global CEO Barbara Bates has done just this by adopting a progressive and forward-thinking mindset.
Bates is not just one who embraces change — she pushes for it, always seeking a better way forward. For this, Bates will receive one of our SABRE Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement during our online awards ceremony on May 28.
She has been a leader in reimagining the workplace. She implemented a “thoughtful working” policy that gives employees autonomy and accountability in their roles by working wherever they are most productive. She has also elevated the industry conversation around mental health by championing a "bring your whole self to work" movement, in which she speaks candidly about her own struggles.
When it comes to work, technology PR firms get to work with some of the most innovative companies in the world. Yet, for so long, tech PR firms took a notably traditional approach to PR itself. Here is another area where Bates has long been different. She was a pioneer in transitioning her firm, Eastwick Communications, into an integrated agency with depth and expertise in analytics, marketing, and other digital capabilities.
It’s staggering to think she launched Eastwick in 1991 — which in the technology sector translates to many lifetimes ago. But as technology changed, so did Bates' vision and she has helped elevate countless clients to new levels of visibility and success. Under her leadership, clients have included Facebook, BMC, Seagate, Dell Software, HP, Adobe and Fujitsu, to name a few. In 2016, Eastwick was bought by the Enero-owned Hotwire. Within eight months of the acquisition, Enero made Bates the global CEO and she now leads 294 employees across 12 offices in nine countries.
With Bates at the helm, the size of the business has more than doubled — revenue has grown by 114% and headcount by 81% with many top-tier clients coming on board. In 2019, global revenues were up 13.5% to $42m. US growth exceeded this at 23% as revenues soared to $18.5m, up from $15m.
“The biggest vote of confidence you can give an agency partner is a referral, and I’ve referred Barb and Hotwire (formerly Eastwick) more times than I can count over the nearly 10 years we’ve collaborated – referrals that have translated into sustained and successful agency/client relationships,” says Bill Wohl, head of brand & communications at United Rentals. “What sets Barb apart from other agency executives as an innovative business leader comes from her deep experience in her clients’ markets – specifically in the IT industry; she builds and leads unparalleled teams; and she has a unique ability to connect and build trust with her clients.”
“Barb Bates is one of a kind — bold and generous,” says Sam Whitmore who runs Media Survey, a media monitoring service aimed at PR agencies. “Time and again she has spotted strategic opportunities others haven’t. She also has won a lot of friends over the years because she cares deeply about PR itself and wants the industry to succeed as Eastwick and Hotwire have.”
Bates resides in San Francisco and has two grown daughters.