For Perlita Fränkel, Peter de Groot and Robert de Moll, June 1992 marked a new start in communications with the foundation of MCS PR. Since then their firm has grown into the Netherlands’ most experienced PR agency in the technology sector. The only constant in this dynamic industry is change. How does Perlita look back on the past 23 years, and what does the future hold? Eleven questions for the agency’s cofounder…
1. WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN REASON FOR LAUNCHING MCS PR?
“I had spent years working hard, day and night, as PR manager for the IT company Datex. This was a small business that had evolved into a major player in the sector, with all the highs and lows you can imagine. When Datex was taken over by Getronics, though, I discovered that I could no longer identify with my new employer and its very different culture. After all, Datex was the company I had put my heart and soul into. But, I thought, I could do for myself what I’d done for them. Passion is what has always driven me. In my view, that’s an important prerequisite for good entrepreneurship.”
2. WHAT DID THE WORLD OF TECHNOLOGY LOOK LIKE IN THOSE DAYS?
“Everything in the IT sector of the early 1990s was dictated by the suppliers. Other companies and institutions knew very little about information technology. Users weren’t as outspoken as they are today. You can hardly imagine that now. It was also a world in which a lot of money was being made relatively quickly. The main Dutch IT media at the time were the specialist magazines Computable and AutomatiseringGids. The newspapers and other traditional media had little or no time for the subject. And paper media was still dominant. We always had to take press deadlines into account. That’s different now.”
3. WHAT WAS YOUR AMBITION IN STARTING A PR AGENCY?
“My ambition was, is, and will always be to let the client shine! It gives me huge satisfaction when my clients gain the media coverage they deserve. When we ‘score’. Not every client realizes how much effort that takes. For me, ‘no’ is not an answer. And that’s a message I pass on to my coworkers at MCS PR. Nothing is too much for us.”
4. WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CLIENT AT MCS PR?
“We first started our business in 1989 as three partners, each handling their own clients and contacts. And we originally had three clients: Kodak, L&T Informatica, and Hoskyns. Our first real agency pitch, in competition with other agencies, was for Microsoft. We ended up working with them for almost 25 years.”
5. WHAT ANECDOTES FROM YOUR EXPERIENCES CAN YOU SHARE WITH US?
“Speaking of Microsoft, I could write a whole book of anecdotes just about them. When Bill Gates came to the Netherlands, I had to buy him a new pair of shoes. He was being awarded an honorary doctorate at Nijenrode University. Because Prince Bernhard was attending the ceremony, protocol required a dress suit with matching shoes and a stretch limo – things Bill Gates wasn’t into at all. The fact that he had traded in his usual casual footwear for a pair of shiny black shoes made a number of newspapers. Apart from that, I remember how happy I was the first time I managed to arrange television coverage for a client. I jumped for joy and fell flat on my back in the office.”
6. WHY DOES MCS PR FOCUS ON THE TECH SECTOR?
“That’s where our knowledge and expertise are. I would even say that no other Dutch PR agency knows more about the tech sector than we do. We read, talk, think, and even dream technology. And of course, we know the media and the journalists who report on technology. We were involved in this sector from the start of its rapid development. That also means that we can assess and explain themes from a historical perspective.”
7. HOW DIFFERENT IS MCS PR NOW COMPARED WITH TWENTY YEARS AGO?
“When we started, we did everything related to communications. We even organized big events for clients, with performances by Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minelli, and Frank Sinatra. We also took on other activities in the domain of internal and external communications. But we very soon decided to specialize in public relations – that is, securing media coverage for our clients. These days, though, our know-how in various aspects of communications is coming in handy once again. More than ever, our starting point now is to develop good content and to exploit it fully in all kinds of media in order to achieve a combination of attention, engagement, and conversion for our clients. That really is very different from twenty years ago.”
8. HOW DO CLIENTS BENEFIT SPECIFICALLY FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE?
“For me, half a word from a client is enough. On top of that, MCS PR has built up a huge network of contacts among important influentials. Because we know better than anyone what is relevant to a journalist, for instance, we are constantly challenging clients to think and act from the outside in.”
9. YOU HAVE ACHIEVED A LOT, BUT WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
“The leading organizations that have been part of our client portfolio for a long time, like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, McAfee, TomTom, and HP. And of course our long-term relationship with the IT entrepreneur Roel Pieper. I still remember a journalist once writing an article asking what it is that makes so many well-known tech firms entrust their PR to MCS. I’m massively proud of that!”
10. WHAT MISTAKES WILL YOU NEVER MAKE AGAIN?
“My passion is sometimes the trap I fall into. I can run so fast that I forget to ask myself whether what the client wants is realistic. That has caused me to make a couple of big mistakes I’ve learned a lot from.”
11. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MCS IN 2016?
“Clients are now well aware that MCS PR is not just for press contacts. We help them develop effective communication strategies to achieve attention, engagement, and contact moments with relevant stakeholders. In addition, we assist them with every conceivable form of earned, paid, owned, and shared media.”