There’s a definite OutCast mentality. The firm calls its people Outcasts and boasts that to the outside world they are “the most competitive, intelligent, fearless, tuned in and tenacious public relations practitioners in the world… always innovating and trying new approaches, continuously looking for ways to over-deliver, and then some.” But to each other, OutCasts are “team-oriented, supportive, collaborative and fun” and “always looking for ways to help each other grow.” While providing a wide range of counsel—media training to crisis communications to traditional product media relations—the firm eschews traditional practice areas, preferring to provide employees with a broad range of experience and to assemble customized teams for each client, so that everyone at the firm can work on companies in several sectors, from clean tech to consumer tech, from start-ups to large publicly-traded corporations.
None of that seems to have changed in the wake of the firm’s acquisition four years ago by Next Fifteen, parent company of global technology public relations powerhouses Text 100 and Bite Communications.
At the time, OutCast was perhaps the hottest technology public relations firm in the Bay Area; it has not cooled off in the intervening years and in fact has demonstrated its ability to scale to successfully serve large clients like EMC and Dell.
The foundation of its success rests on three pillars: long-term employee relationships (more than 20 percent of its people have been with the firm for three years or more); long term client relationships (Salesforce.com has been an OutCast client for 10 years; Foundation Capital for eight; EMC for five; RSA, Yahoo! and Zimbra for four years each); and a phenomenal 90 percent win rate in new business pitches, with recent additions including Andreessen Horowitz, Autodesk, Intuit, Playdom and Palm Pixi.
The firm’s 2009 work, meanwhile, showcased an increasingly impressive ability to develop direct-to-consumer communications across online and offline channels. For Palm Pixi, Outcast built a Facebook app, while the agency also filmed and edited videos for Quicken Online. Other key campaigns included the launch of the Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DZ, overseeing the rollout of Facebook Connect and the new Facebook Home Page and handling comms for Yahoo’s new global brand campaign. In addition, the agency helped push a Quicken iPhone app, launch Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and roll out a new $300 million first-time fund for VC firm Andreessen Horowits.
“We are thrilled to have OutCast become part of our extended team and to support us during these critical stages of growth at Facebook,” says Facebook director of corporate comms Brandee Barker. “We rely on their expertise in overall corporate and product communications strategy and deep experience and familiarity in working with the media and analyst communities.”
By any standards, the quality of Outcast’s work and its new business record represented another strong year. But the agency also hired a slew of new executives including Cathy Ashenbremer, (from Edelman Digital), Allison Braley (Conde Nast Digital), Nicki Dugan (Yahoo), Chris Kraueter (Forbes.com), and John O’Brien (CNN).
OutCast has offices in San Francisco and New York and the bulk of its work is in the United States. But when a client needs help overseas, it has the ability partner with other firms, most often sister agencies within the NextFifteen group such as Text 100.—AS