Archive for January, 2010

BERKMAN expands client list

We recently aquired exciting new clients as well as a one-year contract extension with the SAFE 511 Mobile Call Box Program. Read our client announcement in today’s edition of the San Diego Daily Transcript! The article is also included below.

San Diego Daily Transcript

By Jada Thomas
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

San Diego PR agency BERKMAN recently announced a few new additions to its client roster, including Human Touch(r) massage chairs, Perfect Chair Recliners and wellness solutions and the Medical Rehabilitation & Kinematics Lab Inc. Additionally, the agency was awarded a one-year contract extension with the San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies’ (SAFE) 511 Mobile Call Box Program for the fourth year in a row.

As the PR and marketing partner for Human Touch, BERKMAN will be responsible for nationally positioning the company as the leader of massage and wellness solutions as well as supporting the company’s aggressive marketing and sales initiatives in the U.S. market. For more than 30 years, it has been promoting the benefits of incorporating massage therapy, proper posture and relaxation into our everyday lives.

Regarding the Medical Rehabilitation and Kinematics Lab, the agency is charged with creating a leadership position for the company as the top rehabilitation facility in San Diego as well as nationally; while also positioning founder and operator, Dr. Bradley A. Marcus, as a nationally recognized and leading osteopathic medical physician and rehabilitation specialist.

Aiming to increase awareness for SAFE and participation throughout San Diego County in the 511 Mobile Call Box Program, BERKMAN will be expanding its PR campaign through partnerships with the San Diego Padres, KUSI and more. Using the call box program, motorists driving on San Diego County freeways and highways are able to access roadside aid, including tow services, tire change or other necessary transfers to the California Highway Patrol, AAA and the Manufacturer Help Line by dialing 511 from their cell phone. Call boxes are still operational and available on San Diego freeways and state routes if a cell phone is not available.

Public Relations in the Recession

*Originally published in The Economist

THE past year or two has tested the idea that all publicity is good publicity, at least when it comes to business. Undeserved bonuses, plunging share prices and government bail-outs, among other ills, have elicited the ire of the media and public—and created a bonanza for public-relations firms. The recession has increased corporate demand for PR, analysts say, and enhanced the industry’s status. “We used to be the tail on the dog,” says Richard Edelman, the boss of Edelman, the world’s biggest independent PR firm. But now, he continues, PR is “the organising principle” behind many business decisions.

According to data from Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), a private-equity firm, spending on public relations in America grew by more than 4% in 2008 and nearly 3% in 2009 to $3.7 billion. That is remarkable when compared with other forms of marketing. Spending on advertising contracted by nearly 3% in 2008 and by 8% in the past year. PR’s position looks even rosier when word-of-mouth marketing, which includes services that PR firms often manage, such as outreach to bloggers, is included. Spending on such things increased by more than 10% in 2009.

Not all PR firms did as well as IPREX, a global consortium whose revenues increased by 14% last year. Many had to shed jobs, and some estimates show the industry’s overall revenues declining, although not nearly as sharply as those of most of the businesses it serves. According to a survey by StevensGouldPincus, a consulting firm for the communications industry, nearly 64% of participating firms saw revenues slide in 2009 and only 23% saw revenues increase, perhaps because businesses put their faith only in the biggest and most established firms.

PR has done well in part because it is often cheaper than mass advertising campaigns. Its impact, in the form of favorable coverage in the media or online, can also be more easily measured. Moreover, PR firms are beginning to encroach on territory that used to be the domain of advertising firms, a sign of their increasing clout. They used chiefly to pitch story ideas to media outlets and try to get their clients mentioned in newspapers. Now they also dream up and orchestrate live events, web launches and the like. “When you look at advertising versus public relations, it’s not going to be those clearly defined silos,” says Christopher Graves, the boss of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. “It may be indistinguishable at some point where one ends and the other begins.”

PR has also benefited from the changing media landscape. The withering of many traditional media outlets has left fewer journalists from fewer firms covering business. That makes PR doubly important, both for attracting journalists’ attention, and for helping firms bypass old routes altogether and disseminate news by posting press releases on their websites, for example.

The rise of the internet and social media has given PR a big boost. Many big firms have a presence on social-networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, overseen by PR staff. PR firms are increasingly called on to track what consumers are saying about their clients online and to respond directly to any negative commentary. When two employees of Domino’s, a pizza chain, uploaded a video of themselves apparently sticking ingredients for dishes they were preparing up their noses, the firm responded by posting a video of its own online, of a senior executive apologizing for the incident.

Blow-dried blogs

That sort of content is proliferating. A PR firm called Ketchum helped IBM start a blog about sustainability, complete with posts written by the technology firm’s executives. It also created cartoons on the subject that it uploaded to YouTube. Edelman recently worked with eBay on the launch of a web-only magazine, “The Inside Source”, which provides articles on shopping and tells readers what is selling well on the online retail giant’s website.

VSS forecasts that spending on PR in America will surpass $8 billion by 2013, with much of the growth coming from online projects such as these. According to Miles Nadal, chief executive of MDC Partners, a media holding company, investment in digital PR accelerated during the recession “and will go forward in perpetuity” because clients became more focused on measuring the impact of their efforts. The internet offers various yardsticks, from traffic to cheerleading websites to numbers of Facebook fans, whereas the number of people who see a conventional advertisement is much harder to gauge.

Perhaps the best indication of PR’s growing importance is the attention it is attracting from regulators. They are worried that PR firms do not make it clear enough that they are behind much seemingly independent commentary on blogs and social networks. In October America’s Federal Trade Commission published new guidelines for bloggers, requiring them to disclose whether they had been paid by companies or received free merchandise. Further regulation is likely. But that will not hamper PR’s growth, says Jim Rutherfurd of VSS. After all, companies that fall foul of the rules will need the help of a PR firm.