Text 100 PR Firm – Flexing Someone Else’s Muscle?

Today’s spotlight of the biggest and best shines on Text 100, Global Public Relations. According to O’Dwyer’s, this firm is the world’s 5th most profitable PR agency, with something over $60 million in fees for 2007. Surfing along to Text100’s website reveals a superb design illustrating a young (by comparison) company both in ideas and officers.

The company is led by CEO Aedhmar Hynes, an 18 year veteran of the industry who has pushed Text 100 to its current leadership position in global communications. The company boasts such clients as IBM, Cisco, Xerox, Philips and Fujifilm. But wait! There is more here than meets the eye, read on.

Text 100 PR Firm

Image from Text 100 site – reflective of web(s)

With offices in 31 locations worldwide (and one at Second Life), and over 500 employees, Text 100 has come a long way since 1981. At first glance Text 100 does not look like a PR firm that is 28 years old, in fact, given the relative lack of information about the company’s executives, it appears to have started with Second Life. I know this is a fallacy, but honestly, the company may need some deeper profiles, and a little transparent history. For those who do not know, and I was honestly one of these, Text 100 is a subsidiary of Next Firfteen, along with Bite Communications, Outcast Communications (which was acquired in 2005) and others. Looking beyond the Web face of Text 100 reveals a road map of diverse change in both branding and affiliations.

Text 100 PR Agency

Proud To Know You, Whatever Your Name Is

You know, one thing that always seems strange to me, it the way companies are willing to just switch brands or change names at the drop of a hat. Text 100 has been Text 100 from the start, but the parent company has been everything from OneMonday Group plc, to Next Fifteen. One has to search a little to figure out exactly who is who in this company, but there is a history at the Next Fifteen site. I may not be a billionaire communications mogul, but it occurs to me that aside the pitfalls of re-branding, a lack of apparent transparency is not what one would call galactic PR.

Without going into a marathon “cat and mouse” of global finance and world power structures, suffice it to say I would rather these companies just say who they are. I do admire Text 100’s recent track record, and particularly Aedhmar Hynes inventiveness and drive as far as tech is concerned. However, learning of either loose or sticky ties with the king of tech, Sir Richard Branson, should be something to be proud of rather than obscured. Text 100’s affiliations with Next Fifteen, Tim Dyson, Will Whitehorn, and even Sir Richard Branson, should be a lot more visible in my view.

Communications Wonderland

After about 3 hours of sifting through holding companies in the UK and worldwide, it is somewhat apparent that there is more going on at Text than meets the casual eye. This is not to suggest any impropriety, but my point is well taken I hope. For a company that (along with its sisters) represents a vast array of tech innovation, I think their site is far off base. A nice looking and obviously dynamic group of executives rising atop a fairly elite list, beckons questions. Any website should leave very few such questions unanswered. What is Text 100 communicating here?

Aside the covey of financials flying around all these name changes and acquisitions, it is simply interesting that all the other large PR firms we have spotlighted so far, have a rather high profile with regard to their executives. Finding out something about either a Text 100 or Outcast one for that matter, is an exercise in futility, or at least unrealistic. I suppose in fairness, I should over scrutinize all the other firms too, but finding out “who and what” is afoot did not lead me there so far. For a company with such obvious (once a visitor cares to look) portfolio of innovative clients, Text 100 just seems too “shy” about its affiliations.

Who’s Who At Next Fifteen Then

This report on the “Web wise-ness” for PR firm, Text 100 has become as circuitous as the company background itself. So, in an effort to boost the visibility of who’s behind the voice, here are some of the more known notables associated with Text 100.

  • Will Whitehorn – President of Virgin Galactic, Non-Executive Chairman of Next Fifteen Communications, and right hand man/spokesperson for Sir Richard Branson
  • Tim Dyson -Next Fifteen CEO, considered one of the pioneers of tech PR.
  • David Dewhurst -Finance Director at Next Fifteen and former director at Strong & Fisher Holdings among others.
  • Ian Taylor – Former Minister for Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry, and Next Fifteen’s Chairman of the Remuneration and Audit Committees
  • Mark Sanford – Secretary and Solicitor, and a former attorney with Premier Farnell, round out the team.

Text 100 is obviously on the razors edge with regard to engaging the Internet, from their initial insertion at Second-Life, to a host of companies that have become “Web Household” words, tech is where Text is at. The problem for me, aside from their proportionately mediocre effort on the site, is what looks like subterfuge with regard to transparency. I am sure they will have a good reason for this, but from their blog (which has great content), to their other indexes of technological know how, anyone seeing all the potential at Text 100, let alone Next Fifteen, would expect a website that literally lift off (no pun – hardly). This on does not all things considered, neither does that of Outcast or Next Fifteen.

It is as if no one at any of these subsidiaries considers that their digital brand and likeness is important. It is not that the sites are not good, but come on, these guys should be able to wow anyone who visits, and at least be able to promote their own blog. I actually hate being so critical, but after having to sift through 400 web pages to find out more than a sound byte of information, I just got mad. Looking at clients for the various holdings from Facebook, to Amazon an over to Yahoo! and StumbleUpon (just for OutCast), no one could be surprised if it were announced that Sir Richard owns the whole kit and caboodle at this point.

Text 100 PR Agency

Outcast clients in part.

Spider Web Web

textfifteenFor a company or companies representing the latest and greatest, we expect more – much more. Combined, these entities (and how knows how many more) represent just about everyone from AMD to your local neighborhood Morrison’s Cafeteria, from Apple to Warner Brothers, and so far afield it is actually difficult to grasp. Yet the flagship, and even its sister ship, cannot even provide the casual passer by with a free Facebook beer, or Second-Life spa token.

To think I got hammered for not using every one of  a client’s widgets on all our blogs? My suggestion for Text 100 (or should I say Next Fifteen), would be to repopulate these sites with a whole overview. Secondly, I should think that any blog on any oneof these sites should not only be informative, but have readers to inform.

The term “nice” is good enough for even the traditional PR big boys when they under-do-it, but you guys have no excuse. I leave the reader with an image of one of the best corporate communications blogs I have seen, just sitting waiting for comments.

For the company with names synonymous with technology and forward thinking, Text 100 is a disappointment. Come on guys, even if it means yelling “Rule Brittania” from your rooftop, let us know who you are. I am considering a new section on Everything PR entitled;  “The PR Sneaky Awards”, for companies sneaking up on the next competitor in line.

A superb blog awash in obscurity - text 100

A superb blog awash in obscurity.