Heather Kernahan, global chief executive officer, Hotwire on the PRmoment Podcast
Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.
This week we’re chatting to Heather Kernahan, global chief executive officer of, Hotwire about her career story. Hotwire has 500 employees globally and about 90 in London. It has offices in 11 countries.
Heather joined Hotwire when it acquired Eastwick in 2016. She became CEO in 2021 following Barbara Bates’ move to the holding company Enero. Before joining Eastwick Heather had a senior comms role at Autodesk in the US.
Hotwire was founded in 2000 and was acquired by Enero in 2007. It has recently been on something of an acquisition trail: purchasing 3 B2B sales and marketing firms in the last 18 months or so: McDonald Butler Associates in the UK, BGetIT in Asia and San Francisco based ROI DNA.
Before we start the PRmoment Awards 2023 are now open for entries - do check out the awards site PRmomentAwards.com, including a bunch of new categories and make sure you download the new entry form because there are a number of changes to that for 2023.
Thanks to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors, The PRCA.
Heather welcome to the show.
2 mins As the CEO of arguably the world’s largest Tech PR firm - Heather talks us through the state of the technology PR economy currently
“We see the pipeline is still strong…but people are looking cautiously at the investments for next year (2023)”
“There are different segments of tech, there are resilient segments of tech.”
6 mins Heather talks us through the state of the US PR market at the moment. Is the upward trend of communications the same in the US as it is in the UK?
“We’re not going to see PR and comms backtrack out of the board room…executives need us”
8 mins Are Hotwire making more acquisitions than other PR and communications firms of its size?
8.30 mins Why has Hotwire bought 3 B2B marketing firms in the last 18 months?
9.30 mins Does Hotwire still see itself as a PR and communications firm?
10 mins Will Hotwire will be the last UK-founded PR firm to have a global presence?
12 mins Why did Heather study for an MBA and how has her career benefitted from it? What did studying for an MBA involve and how long did it take?
16 mins Why Heather decided to study Sustainable Enterprise for her MBA
“I use my MBA every single day for my job.”
“You're being trained to be a chief executive, so you better think at that level”
20 mins How much does it cost to do an MBA?
21 mins PR is a lot more business orientated than it was 20 years ago but we’ve got a long way to go, we must keep pushing.
“Agency versus In-house is breadth versus depth”
22 mins Heather talks us through how she went from an employee of the acquired business (Eastwick) to becoming CEO of the acquiring business Hotwire.
26 mins What are a tech PR firm's biggest challenges at the moment?
28 mins How big does Hotwire want to get? Does the business look at Edelman and say that’s where we want to get to?
30 mins Heather credits Canadian paternity leave laws for enabling her family the flexibility which resulted in her husband staying at home to look after the children while Heather concentrated on her career.
“He’s raised the kids…It’s really important to have an open conversation with your partner as your thinking about your careers - what’s this going to look like for us over time as we both add more responsibilities at home but also have aspirations at work.”
“Canada is progressive in their parental policies, so that gave us options”
31 mins Heather talks us through her 3 months in London - giving her perspectives as an outsider on the political changes over the past few months and the London PR scene!
On Prime Ministers Questions: “It’s upsetting to see the behaviour of the politicians in that environment…it’s incredibly disrespectful to the people of the UK. It’s very childlike, it’s very clubby and there are not a lot of connections (to the behaviour of the people of the UK.)”
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