When Shawn Amos was in a pitch meeting with a big corporation recently, he started to explain his new service in which writers would create journalistic stories for the company’s website. But the chief marketing officer interrupted him midsentence.
“I’ve been waiting for our ad agency to come up with an idea like this for the last year,” the executive said, based on Amos’ recollections. “Where do I sign?”
Amos is chief executive of Westwood-based Freshwire, a new joint venture between public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard and GMR Marketing, both units of New York-based Omnicom Group. The company launched last month.
Companies that create content for brands are the current fad of the Internet economy, with new competitors starting each week. But Amos hopes to set his service above the crowd by hiring former journalists instead of ad copywriters. At launch, Freshwire had 10 full-time employees supplemented by more than 75 freelancers including editors, writers, TV news cameramen and designers.
“We are not PR people or advertising types, we are storytellers,” Amos said. “We look at everything with the question, ‘What is the story here?’ That’s different from traditional marketing.”
The company has signed two clients, but he declined to name them.
Freshwire is an outgrowth of a company Amos founded in 2009 called Amos Content Group, which provided episode recaps, cast biographies and trivia for shows on Fox’s website. It also produced show biz news segments for Dallas-based IndoorDirect, which operates a network of TV screens in Taco Bell and Carl’s Jr. restaurants.
Freshwire will be getting its clients from referrals by Fleishman-Hillard and GMR.
Ryan Peal, the new general manager of the L.A. office of Fleishman-Hillard, said PR and marketing firms are evolving to provide different services such as Freshwire. He looks forward to contributing to its success.
Gary Reynolds, chief executive of GMR Marketing in New Berlin, Wis., said companies need to feed a growing number of websites and social media outlets, but most large companies don’t have the expertise or organization to do it.
“Content must be hand-crafted,” he said. “And that’s how they do it at Freshwire. Although GMR and Fleishman-Hillard are in different lines of work, it’s a solution that delivers on both our needs and our clients’ needs.”
When Freshwire signs a client, Amos runs a series of meeting to decide a brand’s editorial agenda. One issue that comes up: Companies are used to talking up their brands, but to have relevance to a web audience, the content must do more than tout products.
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