By Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency
Cross-posted from Ishmael’s Corner

La French Tech graphic

Today we publicly announced that the country of France is now a client. France’s international economic development agency, Business France, selected us to promote the country’s tech industry (Le French Tech initiative) in the U.S. and Asia.

I rarely use the blog as a forum to address Agency business, but I’m making an exception today.

The Agency will mark its 30-year anniversary later this year.

Thirty years is a damn long time. I raise this point because it’s tough for any type of company — much less a PR consultancy — to stay fresh. Today’s communications industry essentially consists of the mega shops owned by holding companies (like WPP and Omnicom) and upstarts that either flame out or eventually become big enough for a mega shop to acquire.

Rinse and Repeat.

We’re an outlier, an independent consultancy with scale, global capability and the guts to walk to our own drummer. In Silicon Valley which started the tech-focused PR agency movement, the inventors of the category — names like Regis McKenna, Franson & Associates and Tycer/Fultz/Bellack — are long gone. Of the second wave of tech-focused consultancies spawned in Silicon Valley, we’re the only one still standing upright and independent. Yet, taking into account service delivery, new clients, our talent base and financials, our 29th year of operation (2016) was the best in our history with our 30th year shaping up to be even better.

The Business France engagement offers another proof point that our services — and our ability to compete in the new-biz arena — match up favorably with any PR agency regardless of size.

Because it’s not about our roughly 140 staff members versus the thousands of employees at the Bursons and Edelmans and Weber Shandwicks of the world. I figure that the vast majority of agency account teams consist of four to seven people. I’ll take our four to seven folks every time — even if I had a choice —  in delivering the sophistication of a mega shop combined with the high-touch of a boutique.

PR campaign and management chart

This proposition, combined with our tech pedigree, resonated with Business France.

The engagement with Business France puts into action all of the “goodness” of our proposition. Thanks to our unique infrastructure that doesn’t worship individual office P/L, we could put forth a global account structure that aligns with the client’s needs. Our European team will handle most of the client facing and have a role in content development, with on-the-ground execution taking place in the U.S. and Asia.  It’s about doing what’s best for the client in contrast to the typical agency scenario in which every office is fighting over the carcass (budget).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the prestige that comes with this type of campaign. We’re part of a team striving to make a difference in how the world perceives a country and not just any country, but one that commands the sixth largest economy in the world.

Yes, people tend to associate France with goods like wine, cheese, fashion luxury products and tourist landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Yet, France is fast becoming a force in the world when it comes to making the impossible possible. Perception hasn’t kept up with the reality of what’s taking place in France, which cuts to the core of our assignment, to get the word out.

It should be fun and satisfying. We’ve already hit the ground sprinting in support of France at CES:

TechCrunch article screenshot

As you can imagine, this type of government tender is not for the squeamish. Kudos to Mike Sottak, our European MD, who quarterbacked the effort, and to Steve Burkhart and Jenny Chan who led the efforts in the U.S. and Asia Pacific respectively.

Reflecting on the win, I also credit our entire staff who believed the impossible is indeed possible.

I’m detecting a pattern, an encouraging sign for client chemistry.

P.S. You can read the official news release here.


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