SILICON VALLEY, August 14—The technology business is, almost by definition, global. And with more technology clients looking for a global approach to public relations, smaller high-tech PR firms with limited overseas presence have seen some of their largest accounts turn to full service multinationals for both counsel and implementation. The specialists have responded with a variety of strategies. Some (Brodeur Worldwide, for example) have acquired overseas offices; others (Cunningham Communication) have themselves been acquired by parents prepared to invest in building an international network.
Still others have built up networks of affiliated agencies in key overseas markets. Now Silicon Valley technology specialist Neale-May & Partners has created what may be the largest network of independent technology firms in the world, a new group called Global Fluency that will “integrate the best regional minds in a seamless, web-enabled network that has consistent global quality, deep capability, and better outcomes at a lower cost.”
The idea of a branded global network of independent public relations firms is not a new one. The first such network, Public Relations Organisation International was founded in Europe in 1970 and Pinnacle Worldwide—the first network launched in the U.S.—is 25 years old this year. But GlobalFluency, which bills itself as “the independent network of influence” is different in that it is focused exclusively on the technology market. Its members include 35 agencies in 25 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
“GlobalFluency harvests the independent spirit, entrepreneurial drive and dedication of owner-operators,” says Neale-May, a 25-year agency veteran who previously ran Ogilvy & Mather’s West Coast PR operations and has also managed agency businesses in London, New York and Cape Town, South Africa. “We collectivize best-of-breed regional firms in a seamless way and deliver a higher level of expertise, local influence and strategic value to global clients.”
The network’s first client will be, a leading provider of Internet security services that safeguard computer users from viruses, intruders and objectionable Internet content. McAfee, which has over 1 million subscribers worldwide, plans to localize and deliver services through 14 native language sites. The company has worked with Neale-May & Partners for a year, and according to chief executive Srivats Sampath, “Going with GlobalFluency means we continue to be serviced by dynamic and driven independent agencies in every country we do business.
“We expect to replicate the experience we have had with Neale-May as we roll out services with GlobalFluency member firms across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”
GlobalFluency partners also collaborate on regional assignments for Jetstream Communications, Metromedia Fiber Network and F-Secure, and the network is participating in several bids for major global branding and corporate identity building engagements from other technology leaders.
The network will have an eight-person management council made up of agency principals from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, United States, Hong Kong/China, Australia and Argentina.
Management council member Jean Claude Vaudecrane, head of Tukilik in France, believes large PR conglomerates lack flexibility in being able to marshal or pick and choose the best resources for complex, challenging technology marketing engagements. “It’s hard to find technology-proficient resources in every country and even more difficult if you are locked into a single branded office network that is not dedicated to the dynamics of the digital economy and information technology,” he says.
Members have fee billings in excess of $45 million and more than 250 professionals worldwide.