Over the past 31 years, our PR firm has represented some 160 high-tech organizations, a veritable alphabet soup from ACCPAC to Zenith Data Systems.
Many no longer exist: Amdahl, Banyan, Bull and Cantax. Others have changed names: UUNet became MCI Worldcom, then Worldcom, then back
to MCI. McAfee become Network Associates, McAfee Security, then back to McAfee. Between hardware, software, content and telecom, the comings and goings have been fascinating.
Looking back, who would have thought that Michael Dell was so unnewsworthy — and that high-tech was such an unsexy beat — that the Globe and Mail Report on Business would be the only major news operation we invited who declined an interview with the entrepreneurial CEO when Dell opened its Canadian doors on Sept. 4, 1988? It took ROB two years to realize the news potential they missed, and that was only after Dell was named Man of the Year by Inc. Magazine.
We launched Dell in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Private Member Lounge. It was a natural tie-in because of the company’s interest in art and because journalists recognized this venue as an unusual setting for a hi-tech company. Known then as a grey marketer, Dell was well-recognized among techies, but not the general public.
An important PR “first” was Sun Microsystems’ North American launch of its Sparc server 600MP Series multiprocessing computer. Toronto was the launch market. While it was and still is customary for multi-nationals to announce from their corporate headquarters, Sun’s Canada-first decision was a tribute to a very progressive executive mindset in 1991.
Another “first” at TCG was the global launch in 2001 of Taxmatic Inc.’s Taxwiz To Go and Impotamatique Direct pre-paid on-line tax preparation cards. The company, then competing with Intuit, was subsequently acquired by Intuit. A tribute to Syd Hazan for Canadian tech ingenuity and success.
Over the years we’ve helped re-introduce companies spawned from existing enterprises, such as the 1997 DocuCom launch by two former Bell & Howell’s document management division executives. There was definitely a need for this company’s offerings, and this was a great PR opportunity to tout Canadian entrepreneurship with guided transition from the existing legacy to the new team with a bright future.
A very different and rewarding project in 2001 saw Ottawa’s C-Com Satellite Systems establish high-speed Internet access by satellite to the First Rural Ontario Aboriginal School.
Another typical experience has been to help clients communicate their evolution from private to public status, such as Yak Communications Inc. and WaveRider Communications Inc. who both moved to the NASDAQ Small Cap board.
Navigating through the dot.com and dot.bomb eras continues to be one of our greatest challenges. We roll onward with the vagaries of the marketplace, winning new assignments while sometimes seeing clients acquired and/or dissolved.
Our business continues to be rewarding. We have information to share; clients have stories to tell; and journalists have questions to ask. That’s how it works. And we accomplish this around the globe from Toronto.
David Eisenstadt is a partner in the Communications Group.