Tuesday, March 31, 2009

PR at JBoss

A little shout out to Chantal Yang who, along with Laura Kempke and Sarah Conway, was one my main point people and the "professional" side of PR at JBoss.

For a little background, JBoss began a concerted effort at professional PR at the beginning of 2003, with what was a significant monthly retainer for us at the time. These three women worked for us, while at Schwartz Communications, where Laura Kempke has remained. Laura was the head person on our account for the duration of our contract and Sarah and, later, Chantal were our account managers. Chantal stayed with us until the end, even working for a year at RHT post-merger. Sarah and Chantal are now at Page One PR. I could not have worked at JBoss part-time and raised three children during my tenure there, without relying on the help of these three very capable women.

In this post, Chantal shares her opinion of what it was like working for us, and some of the factors that made PR a success at JBoss. She doesn't say it directly, but I'm sure she and her colleagues got plenty of "I can't believe you let them get away with saying that." The irony is we engaged Schwartz Communications based on one reference and one reference only--Miguel de Icaza and Ximian, which was getting a lot of publicity at the time (2002) for their OS project Mono, which Marc felt was completely irrelevant. Back then, you couldn't open a trade or business publication or read about an industry award without seeing Miguel's smiling face and an accompanying halo of flattering elogies--"diplomatic", "takes the high road," "Wants OS to succeed to help the third world," "Linux Savior"...and so on. We decided that we, too, wanted the "Miguel" PR treatment :)

It will take a PR genius to give to give you a product and a "voice" if you haven't got one, however, based on your project and community's maturity, the right PR team can do a lot towards analyzing and amplifying your message, and taking it to places you might otherwise not be able to reach.


Nathalie said...

Vintage JBoss PR :)


laurak said...

Nathalie, I'm smiling reading this--it doesn't seem right that it was six years ago that we began working with you. I was (and still am) grateful to Miguel for putting in the good word for us.

I definitely did my share of forehead-slapping at the time, for the couple of minutes before something would become really funny.

If I had it to do over, I'd probably understand from the outset that the best "PR results" come when you let your client be themselves.

Nathalie said...

Hi Laura,
Good to hear from you. Actually Marc never met/spoke with Miguel until years later. We were simply impressed with all the press he and Ximian were getting, and that was enough for us.

Some days it was a real roller-coaster ride, but it was fun. As always, it was a pleasure working with you and I wish you the best,

Chantal Yang said...

Nathalie, thanks for posting. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you guys. As a team, we all definitely learned a lot together.

Ben said...

It was simple google news search that led us to Schwartz, we searched for Zimian and mono, found a press contact, dialed the phone, and the rest was history. We were then passed up the chain until we were on the phone with Bryan Scanlon. It was that month that I got yelled at by our CFO at the time, as my cell phone bill was huge, because we were interviewing PR firms. Those were the days, lots of fun! I hope everyone is well.