Fred Bateman: Using Web 2.0 for PR work

High-tech public relations firm the Bateman Group is riding a wave of new Web 2.0 clients toward another stunning year of growth, according to founder and President Fred Bateman.

Since June the San Francisco-based firm has signed on as the lead agency for three of the Web’s latest innovators, KickApps, BayNote and SpotPlex. The three Web 2.0 companies are part of a broader Internet evolution under way that has many companies rushing to add more interactive content to their Web sites in an effort to duplicate the success of sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook.

Technology companies that loosely fall into the Web 2.0 category generally offer products and/or services that aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users, Bateman said.

Such well-funded companies are a sweet spot for the Bateman Group, which seeks out emerging technology markets, Bateman said.

With $1 million in revenue and 34 percent growth in 2006, the Bateman Group is on track to exceed 50 percent growth in 2007, said Bateman, who, at 38, has already worked in high-tech public relations for more than 15 years.

“We’re on the way up, it’s exciting,” Bateman said, emphasizing the firm has continued to balance its clientele — with accounts in online wholesale vehicle auctioning, VoIP and digital identity theft protection — to avoid a “bubble” effect.

Growth has been so rapid that Bateman recently hired his first junior-level associates — a significant cultural shift for a firm that still advertises “a unique PR consultancy composed of only senior-level practitioners averaging more than a dozen years’ experience in the high-tech industry” on its Web site.

Junior associates don’t mean clients aren’t dealing with senior staff on all the company’s projects. In fact senior associates and senior management often double up on accounts, Bateman said. “We’re still very top heavy.”

Key to recruiting such senior staff is the “flex” time he allows. A number of staff members regularly telecommute, while some moms on the payroll work fewer hours during the week, allowing for more home life with their children and families, Bateman said. “We have less of an emphasis on people being physically present in the office,” he said.

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