COMMENDATIONS OF EXCELLENCE:
Zarafina with 360 Public Relations
Graco with Converseon
Kona Blue with Edelman
ElectraTherm with PilmerPR
MobileSphere with SHIFT Communications
Second Rotation with SHIFT Communications
Category: Blogger relations
Our communication challenge was twofold:
1. How do we connect, develop and build real relationships with influential online bloggers and social media networkers?
2. How do we introduce our products to a new circle of influencers?
We recognize that our customers are online — and have been for some time, and that some are extremely influential Our communications challenge over the past year has been to determine how to best connect with and build brand profile among the social media enthusiasts and bloggers in Canada in order to introduce or reacquaint a broader spectrum of consumers with our products.
Molson (www.molson.com) has been enhancing its media relations throughout Canada with traditional media for years, aiming to become the ‘go to brewer’ for traditional media. Now we are working to do the same – but this time online, within the social media sphere. To do this, we first needed to have a basic outreach plan and engagement approach with the online folks. We don’t want to become passive participants online. We want to become valuable contributors in this space and therefore we need to learn from the best!
The target audience for our Brew 2.0 blogger outreach was influential Canadian bloggers – bloggers with high traffic, high discussion and high-linking blog and social networking sites. For the first chapter in our outreach plan, we focused and segmented our audience into the following groups:
We targeted bloggers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who have little to no prior knowledge of the beer/brewing industry. The goal was to provide a unique and educational experience for them that surprised and delighted and ultimately provided a positive introduction to Molson and our beers. By doing so, we hoped to attract the key influences of customers who we aren’t able to connect with as easily online, – loyal users, non-users and even competitive users of Molson’s brands.
• Consumer bloggers
• Marketing bloggers
• Lifestyle bloggers
• Public Relations bloggers
• Sports bloggers
We also targeted food and beverage bloggers who are more likely to discuss Molson products or have before (some of the bloggers included online media sources). Many of these bloggers were both loyal and competitive users of Molson’s brands. The employees at Molson are also an important secondary yet internal audience for Molson’s online relationship building strategy. Many employees at Molson are actively engaging online with personal social networks, and need to be aware of all communications initiatives of Molson.
Bloggers who link, read and respond to social media sites of our primary and secondary audiences.
– Establish personal relationships with some of the GTA’s most influential bloggers
– Introduce and highlight Molson’s full product portfolio while providing a unique beer and food tasting experience
– Provide a great Molson experience, leading to online reviews from the guests and links to Molson’s blog
– Demonstrate Molson’s ability and desire to learn, understand and work within the social media space
The Plan: Brew 2.0
What it is: Brew 2.0 was a bricks and mortar blogger outreach event consisting of beer and brewing education led by a Molson Brewmaster, a behind-the-scenes brewery tour and showcase of the brewing process, a catered beer and food tasting session which included our full beer portfolio, and finally, a special sneak preview of several yet to be released beers.
Step 1: Target Smartly
We developed a very targeted invite list of around 40 bloggers in the GTA focusing the majority of the invites on our primary audience – PR, marketing, consumer and lifestyle bloggers, as well as some beer, brewing and food bloggers. Again, the thinking behind who was invited was to focus on natural communicators and those with little to no previous knowledge of either Molson or beer in general. By doing so, we could help form positive opinion and blunt any misinformation or unfounded misconceptions that may exist about Molson.
Step 2: The Invite
The invite was a unique e-vite that was sent out on behalf of Molson by our agency partner, Hill & Knowlton (H&K), who already had established relationships with some of the invitees. This approach was a way to facilitate the first introductions between Molson PR staff and invited bloggers. The invite copy was drafted in a conversational style consistent with how our audience communicates with their peers and followers, which earned praise among invitees for a very ‘non-PR’ approach. Once the invites were sent, we followed-up with some micro-blogging on Twitter , connecting and introducing ourselves to the guests online before the event date. Many twittered or blogged about the event before they attended.
Example of Twitter comments prior to event:
tamera: “Received excellent pitch/invite from H&K for Molson.”
gcn1: @DoctorJones “Thanks! #brew2.0 sounds like fun. How did Molson get the idea to do this? It’s a great one…”
Step 3: The Event (deployment)
Brew 2.0 was held on a Thursday evening before Canada Day long weekend at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Molson has its own micro brew-house on-site, providing the perfect backdrop and ‘classroom’ for attendees.
The event agenda:
1. Brewer’s Table – Beer and Food Pairing Session
Guests were led through a seven-course tasting menu led by Molson Brewmaster Ian Douglas. Seven Molson beers were showcased along with gourmet food that best complemented or contrasted each brew.
2. Behind the scenes brewery tour
Once well fed, the bloggers were led on an interactive brewery tour within the Rickard’s Brew House by brewmaster Bryan Egan. Bryan demonstrated the brewing process and shared some secrets of the perfect brew with fascinated guests.
3. Beer 101 Education
The bloggers were led through an in-depth beer and draught education session, taught by draught expert Steve Riley. Steve explained the draught process along with helpful and entertaining beer dos and don’ts to help attendees fully enjoy their next beer.
4. Special sneak preview
One of the key elements of Brew 2.0 was offering our guests something ‘new or unique’ to see/try. We provided a special sampling preview for a premium new beer being introduced to Canada later this fall as well as demonstrating other recent innovations such as the Heineken 5L Draught Keg.
5. Parting gifts
Each guest received a complimentary a beer coupon, a USB key pre-loaded with Molson brand logos, photos and other useful information to help them in the future should they ever choose to report or post about Molson and/or beer, as well as pre-ordered taxi coupons so everyone made it home safely.
Step 4: Follow-up
Follow-up thank you emails were sent by H&K staffers that evening and tweets (twitter) were sent the next morning, including links to sites where the bloggers could find photos and video of the evening.
Event attendees were greeted the next day at their homes or offices with a surprise gift from Molson to help them “enjoy their long weekend” and apply some of what they learned the night before. Gifts consisted of a 6-pack of Molson Canadian (in honour of Canada’s birthday long weekend) and a personalized thank you note signed by the Brew 2.0 team.
One memorable follow-up consisted of us dropping off a few cases of an influential bloggers’ favorite beer for his social media BBQ at his home the weekend after Brew 2.0. This resulted in a blog post entitled: Molson Gives a Crash Course in Relationship Building, which detailed the events of our Brew 2.0 activity as well as the ensuing follow-up at his BBQ. This resulted in a storm of comments to his blog (11) as well as set off several follow-up posts by several notable bloggers/blogs such as Neville Hobson and Chris Norton, which equal parts credited and criticized our efforts. The end result was a rich conversation and heated debate that lasted several days and drew in several prominent social media commentators. Heather Yaxley’s: Greenbanana views of public relations and more blog post continued the conversation with 26 comments and sparked three podcasts on For Immediate Release (FIR) with influential social media experts Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson.
Challenges: Our primary obstacle was gaining an audience to attend the event, given that we only had cursory contact with most of the bloggers on our list prior to the event. We wanted to communicate that this activity was simply to serve as a personal introduction to our PR staff (who were new to the job) as well as a fun and educational introduction to our products. We wanted to impress upon those attending that there was no expectation to write or post about what they experienced. It was simply to get to know them better.
Tools: We employed the following social media tools to communicate with guests, spread word about event and post follow up photos, video, comments:
Molson Blog: http://blog.molson.com/community/2008/06/27/how-about-some-brew-20/
Molson Flickr Account http://www.flickr.com/photos/23266041@N02/sets/72157605936187618/
Twitter: @toniahammer, @moffat, @withoutayard, @doctorjones, @MolsonFerg
Our social media counselors at Hill and Knowlton helped develop the invite list, craft the invitation copy and facilitated face-to-face introductions at the event.
Molson’s PR team:
•Concept creation; hosts for the evening
Hill and Knowlton Team:
•Invite list and copy development and led invite outreach
Results: Brew 2.0 was written about on many different blogs in Canada, the United States, and even the UK! Much of Brew 2.0 success came from the positive feedback, comments, tweets and photos from influential bloggers. Fourteen blog posts were written about Brew 2.0 by guests and tertiary audiences, and many posts were accompanied by photos that featured Molson’s products. Over 75 comments with passionate feedback and dialogue can be read on those posts. Another successful result of Brew 2.0 was the mentions of Brew 2.0 (one full discussion and two follow-up discussions) on three separate episodes of Hobson & Holtz on FIR – For Immediate Release. Average listenership for FIR podcast is 1,717. Geographically, listenership is broadly broken down as US and Canada 55%, UK 30%, rest of the world 15%. There was also a positive call-in interview with Jay Moonah, author of Media Driving with Jay Moonah (Authority: 40, Ranking: 175,601). And many of the guests ‘live twittered’ Brew 2.0, with a total number of micro-blogs mtweets at 60.
Molson staff blogged about Brew 2.0 event on Molson’s community blog, engaging readers and bringing unique traffic to the blog site, including 8 comments.
Molson blog analytics
June 27 (day after event): 90 visits
Week after event: 500 visits – 430 unique visits
Week after event: 881 pageviews
As a result of our activity, we now have regular contact with many of the bloggers who attended – through linking to each other’s blogs to following and interacting with one another on Twitter. One blogger even volunteered to be a guest judge at a different Molson event shortly after Brew 2.0. The end result of this activity was that influential bloggers now consider Molson to be an innovative company through our social media engagement efforts. The beer itself was also celebrated on many blog posts and tweets which accomplished the awareness building and positive association we set out to make.
As a result of our pioneering event, we will soon be bringing this program to Canada’s west coast and hosting a similar event in Vancouver at the end of September for 40+ social media enthusiasts.
Category: Blogger Relations
Company: 360 Public Relations for Jarden Consumer Solutions – Zarafina Tea Maker Suite
In 2007, Jarden Consumer Solutions (http://www.jardencs.com/), a division of Fortune 500 Jarden Corp., enlisted 360 Public Relations to help launch a new high-end tea maker, called The Zarafina Tea Maker Suite. Given the $200 price tag, it was important to reach the most passionate tea consumers first and to gain their endorsement of the product.
Reach tea-drinking consumers – and not just casual consumers, but enthusiasts who would be able to influence other consumers (assuming they liked the product once introduced to it). The objective was to create positive word-of-mouth about Zarafina in a targeted community of consumers, and do that with a very limited PR budget. The target audience was comprised of adult women and men with higher than average household income. Age was not a driving factor. However, psychographics were key: we needed to reach consumers with a passion for tea, again not just casual tea drinkers but true enthusiasts, and with a desire for the latest “must-have” kitchen gadget. Further they must be comfortable with new technologies since Zarafina introduced a whole new way of making tea.
*Introduce new, high-end tea maker, Zarafina, to tea enthusiasts.
*Secure positive product reviews targeted to tea drinkers that educate these consumers about
Zarafina’s key benefit: making a perfect cup of tea every time.
360PR conducted extensive online research to identify the top tea, food and kitchen gadget bloggers utilizing a combination of subscription blog monitoring tools, Technorati, Google and, most important, visiting each blog to determine:
*Does the blogger reach our key audience of tea-enthusiasts?
*Is the blogger generally negative or positive about commercial messages and products?
*Does the blog include advertising? How established is it?
*How influential is it? What does its blogroll look like and who is linking to it?
*How often does the blogger post and how engaged is the community in posting comments?
360 Public Relations created a campaign to speak to tea enthusiasts about Zarafina via tea, food and kitchen gadget bloggers, educating them on how the Zarafina Tea Maker Suite makes the perfect cup of tea and driving traffic to www.zarafina.com, where consumers could learn more about the product, including “where to buy” information.
360PR conducted extensive online research to identify the top tea, food and kitchen gadget bloggers utilizing a combination of subscription blog monitoring tools, Technorati, Google and, most important, visiting each blog to read recent posts, search the blog’s archives and determine:
• Does the blogger reach our key audience of tea-enthusiasts?
• Is the blogger generally negative or positive about commercial messages and products?
• Does the blog include advertising? How established is it?
• How influential is it? What does its blogroll look like and who is linking to it?
• How often does the blogger post and how engaged is the community in posting comments?
After thoroughly screening each blog, 360PR contacted bloggers individually, with tailored emails, not a “blast” approach. Staff emails to bloggers were careful to reference relevant posts by the blogger as an entry point for contacting them regarding Zarafina.
360PR introduced the product, offering brief product information with link to the web site for more information, as well as a product sample to test, being clear throughout that we were writing from the company’s PR firm.
Product Review Process
• 360PR shipped product samples and information for review upon request only.
• 360PR worked closely with each blogger to answer questions as needed. The team provided evaluation tips and ensured that bloggers were aware of specific features and benefits in order to be able to test them.
We monitored all blogs on our outreach list daily, and provided an overview of each blog’s influence to the client as the bloggers began posting their reviews.
First and foremost, the client had not embarked on a formal blogger relations campaign. 360PR developed a process map to educate the client on the planned blogger outreach and carefully vetted each blog we contacted in advance of our outreach to minimize the risk of a negative product review.
Further, tea enthusiasts are often times wedded to very specific processes for making tea, favoring traditional steeping processes that have been used for hundreds of years. The Zarafina Tea Maker Suite introduced a new way of making tea and, as a result, required significant education – long-form reviews with links to the product web site, rather than brief mentions in magazines and other traditional media, would be key to success.
Finally, the client had a limited budget. In part for that reason, 360PR recommended an online campaign, feeling that it would be more efficient than a traditional print media outreach, as well as more immediate in terms of potential results.
We employed a combination of paid/subscription blog monitoring tools (360PR subscribes to Custom Scoop and Radian6) and free tools, such as Google; agency staff time to read, search and monitor each blog; and Compete.com and Technorati to qualify a blog’s reach and influence.
Our Digital Media Manager provided strategic counsel throughout the program to the Zarafina account team, who were on the front lines with bloggers as they knew the product best and could answer questions as needed. 360PR worked closely with our client, Jarden Consumers Solutions, to ensure information that was being sent to bloggers was accurate and consistent with the overall marketing campaign messages for Zarafina.
360PR contacted 30 bloggers of which 24 posted positive reviews of the Zarafina Tea Maker Suite. No negative reviews were posted. The blog postings combined for a total of 9,257,826 unique monthly visitors.
Reviews, which often ran 2-3 pages long and all included an image of the product and product web site for more information, were posted on such influential tea, kitchen and gadget blogs as Gizmodo.com, KitchenContraptions.com, About.com’s Food Channel, The Global Gourmet, Tea Scoop and The Tea Guy. In addition, 7 bloggers completed and sent in questionnaires sharing their insights on the Zarafina Tea Maker Suite, providing valuable product feedback for the client from tea enthusiasts.
Jarden Consumer Solutions reported that online efforts increased traffic to www.Zarafina.com and elevated Zarafina in key word searches. The Zarafina blogger program has been used as a case study within the company – a reason to embark on new media campaigns – to help identify similar opportunities for other brands moving forward.
We secured lengthy, positive product reviews with bloggers who reach Zarafina’s target audience of tea and kitchen gadget enthusiasts. Further, as reported by the client (though they were not comfortable sharing specific numbers), there was an increase in traffic to Zarafina.com as a direct result of the reviews we were able to secure with the targeted bloggers. Finally, the client held up the Zarafina blogger relations campaign as a model for other brands in its portfolio.
Category: Blogger relations
Company: Converseon for Graco
The issue: Connecting a 66-year-old brand in a tightly-regulated environment with a highly-interconnected online community of influentials with a proven skepticism towards brands.
Graco (www.gracobaby.com) needed to assess a complex and fragmented online conversation that occurred across multiple websites and environments including message boards/forums, hundreds of parenting blogs, numerous parenting social networks, Twitter, YouTube and many other social media environments. Graco had no voice in the online conversation and no existing relationships with influential online parents at the beginning of this campaign.
The challenge was to identify the right venues through which to engage the opinion leaders within these communities and the cultural norms and language required to connect authentically with parents. Graco’s primary target audience is expectant parents, but all parents and caregivers are potential customers. This social media campaign primarily targeted parenting (mom and dad) bloggers as a means to build a community of influencers and reach a wider audience of parents through word of mouth.
Increase overall volume and positivity of online conversation about the Graco brand, while shifting conversation towards product and brand advocacy.
– Identify key bloggers in the parenting category and build trust and relationships that can be leveraged over time.
– Give Graco a ‘voice’ in the online conversation to enable two-way dialogue with customers and other stakeholders.
– Position Graco as an authentic contributor to the online parenting community and humanize the brand through open communication between employees and customers. Social media agency Converseon and Graco Baby first “listened” to the conversation to develop a clear understanding of the conversation landscape in the parenting category.
This informed a strategy to:
– Make Graco an accepted and welcomed participant in the online parenting conversation.
– Humanize the Graco brand and build lasting relationships with the community by demonstrating that behind the brand are a group of concerned and engaged parents.
– The most important feature of the strategy was a rigid commitment to long-term relationship building and community development through altruism ahead of achieving short term brand goals. Listening (“i.e. Conversation Mining”) activity found that there was a robust, active parenting conversation that was largely resistant to commercial efforts to engage them in conversation.
– A core thrust of the strategy: Don’t force the brand into the conversations, but instead environments to facilitate relationships between influentials and be invited to the conversation.
– A core component: A series of Graco blogger “Get-Together” events across the country to allow Graco to engage in an acceptable manner.
This outreach engagement laid the groundwork for the subsequent launch of a corporate Graco parenting blog authored by a multi-disciplinary team of Graco employees. The blog was carefully crafted to focus on “parent first” issues, stories, and advice.
The blogging effort was supported with the complementary use of other social media tools, including Flickr, YouTube and Twitter. Graco operates within a tightly regulated industry and its strict legal environment presented many challenges for open communication. A long period of internal training, policy setting and legal conversations was undertaken before the launch of any tactics.
The ‘mom blogging’ niche is one of the most targeted by marketers online, with decidedly mixed results. There is a significant amount of competition for attention and many marketing/PR campaigns are derided for a lack of authenticity and understanding of the community.
Conversation Mining: Proprietary Converseon online monitoring technology that maps the online conversation for brand mentions and provides reporting on sentiment, tone, venues, depth, influence and more.
Graco Blog: Developed by Converseon on the open source WordPress platform and authored by a team of Graco staff members.
Twitter: A combination of individual employees and corporate branded accounts allowed the brand to access the ‘back channel’ conversation amongst parenting bloggers while also interacting directly with consumers.
Flickr/YouTube: The addition of targeted content to these venues promoted easy sharing of Graco branded content online. Graco
Lindsay Lebresco – Social Media/PR Manager: Led the implementation of the strategy and Graco’s lead blogger
Pancho Gustein – Director of Brand Marketing: Assisted in strategy development and brand direction
Kim Lefko – Vice President of Global Marketing: Assisted in strategy development and Graco blogger
Paull Young – Social Media Strategist: Account Manager
Constantin Basturea – Director of Social Media: Strategy development and support
Stephanie Schwab – Senior Vice President: Strategy development and support
Rob Key – CEO: Strategy development and support
• Conversation Mining results showed the volume of the online conversation for the Graco Brand nearly doubled, while the polarity of online mentions rose from 68% positive in 2007 to 83% positive in 2008
• 100% of posts sparked by proactive outreach have been positive
• Volume of conversation about the Graco brand has more than doubled
• A significant increase in positive recommendations/reviews – this desirable topic became the most common discussion of the Graco brand
• GracoBaby blog featured on Today Show and as a case study at BlogHer Business conference
• In just 6 months it ranked as the 59th top parenting blog in the hundreds strong Parent Power Index
• Thousands of monthly unique visitors to the Graco Blog
• Graco Blog ranks on the front page of Google for many relevant search terms
• Technorati Authority of 88 resulting from 224 blog reactions in 6 months (higher than many Fortune 500 blogs)
• 155 posts at the Graco blog garnering 530 comments
• Positive reviews from industry commentators and parenting bloggers alike including the 5th highest ever score in Mack Collier’s series of Corporate Blog Reviews
Goal: Increase overall volume and positivity of online conversation about the Graco brand, while shifting conversation towards product and brand advocacy. This goal was directly achieved as measured through Conversation Mining, with the comparison of a benchmark report, mid-year report and a full year report showing a significant positive boost to each category.
In addition, Graco’s relationship and community building objectives (the core of this campaigns success) can be measured through the traffic, inbound links and engagement on the Graco Blog.
The fact that 100% of blog posts stemming from outreach are positive, alongside the series of glowing endorsements for Graco’s approach, clearly demonstrate Graco’s acceptance into the online parenting community.
Category: Blogger relations
Company: Edelman for Kona Blue
Increase awareness of Kona Blue (www.kona-blue.com) and get consumers excited about its sustainably raised, mercury-free yellowtail fish, Kona Kampachi. Most had never heard of or tasted Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi and the fish’s high price-point deterred people from trying it for the first time without knowing of its qualities. Additionally, Kona Blue was not garnering news coverage through its PR outreach to green, environmental, and health reporters and news outlets with their story about sustainably-raised, mercury-free Kona Kampachi.
To address this awareness issue, Edelman (www.edelman.com) recommended an online word-of-mouth blogger relations campaign developed through research.
– Identified Kona Blue’s online target audience
– Demonstrated where the target audience interacted online
– Reviewed target audience conversation trends and search behavior patterns
– Provided observations and recommendations for conversation opportunities for Kona Blue
– Developed an ongoing blogger relations program
Research demonstrated that recipes for Kona Kampachi needed to be online because search terms used to look up food generally include the word “recipe” alongside the type of food people are searching for — and most online conversations are organized by types of recipes.
– Research revealed that the online “foodie” community should be Kona Blue’s target audience, rather than “green” bloggers or mothers concerned about mercury in fish. The online “foodie” community is one that values sustainability, health, and high-end fish that satisfies the taste bud’s refined desires.
– Increase awareness of Kona Blue and get consumers excited about its sustainably raised, mercury-free yellowtail fish, Kona Kampachi.
– Increase sales of fish
– Research also demonstrated that before doing a marketing module or advertising, Kona Blue needed to provide relevant experiences that engage “foodies” with what is most important to them
– Getting to cook and prepare the product for themselves and take still photographs of it. This was an important insight, as typical food programs entail tasting events, but those do not guarantee positive reviews or coverage from bloggers. However, research showed than in almost every case, when a blogger prepared a recipe themselves, the review was positive.
Top 100 foodie bloggers were identified based on authority (readership), how many other foodie bloggers were linking to their posts or including them in their blogrolls, those with Food Blog Awards and/or awards from food magazines, and those that were quoted in lifestyle and food magazines and newspapers.
Developed relationships with the top 100 most credible and respected “foodie” bloggers – with a keen eye to understanding and valuing our shared interests – in order to engage and build buzz among them relevantly, and ultimately build credibility within the online community by having these top-tier bloggers tell Kona Blue’s story for us.
– Over a five-month period, bring a sense of “taste” to this online environment by providing Kona Kampachi fish to them to cook, taste, photograph and talk about Kona Blue
– Most people had never heard of or tasted Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi and the fish’s high price-point deterred people from trying it for the first time without knowing of its qualities.
– Online blog research sites (Google Blog Search, Technorati, Blogpulse, Boardreader, etc.)
– UPS to mail the fish
Components of program included research, development of messaging, blogger relationship building and management, and online communication monitoring.
The word about Kona Kampachi spread like wildfire, garnering 70 positive posts and hundreds of positive comments, as well as photos making foodie headlines about Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi. Example quotes:
• “Kona Kampachi is so the IT fish right now.” – One Food Guy
• “By the way, this morning a friend called and asked me what this fish tastes like. It tastes like standing on the edge of a high bluff looking straight out over the open Pacific, with the surface of the water like light beaten silver, and a faint cold morning wind washing over your face, and the wind has come four thousand uninterrupted miles straight to find you. It’s that clean and beautiful and pure.” – Blue Kitchen
• “Enter Kona Kampachi – a type of yellowtail fish raised in the immaculate waters of the Big Island of Hawaii. Here they are reared with no growth hormones and in a sustainable environmentally sound aqua culture. The fish is touted as having no detectable levels of mercury and is high in Omega 3’s.“ – Veronica’s Test Kitchen
• “The kampachi has a high fat content that gives it a rich, buttery mouth-feel. It’s flavor is delicate, briny, and clean…pure fishy excellence.” – Eating Out Loud
People spread the word beyond blogs within food information and community networks (including Gather.com, Food411, My-ANI World Food and Dining Guide and a 5-star rating on About.com), a variety of different audience and topic-based websites (such as Flickr and International Women’s Day) and even influenced traditional media (including Tampa Tribune running Steamy Kitchen’s blog post about Kona Kampachi).
Key influencers touted the fish’s excellence, including:
• Cooking with Amy, one of Forbes Best Food Blogs, and featured on KQED, Glamdish, SFStation, Bay Area Bites and Epicurious. She is currently writing a cookbook for Williams and Sonoma.
• Apartment Therapy gets 1 million unique visitors per month with over 4.5 million pages views per month. Its readers are style conscious, early adopters, and savvy consumers.
• A picture of Kona Kampachi (with link to recipe and positive blog post) is chosen as “Photo of the Day” on Serious Eats, reaching a community of over 500,000 serious eaters
• Kona Blue was spotlighted on the Food411 homepage, named one of TIME Magazine’s 50 Coolest Web sites
• One blogger’s picture of Kona Kampachi (with link to recipe and positive blog post) was featured on TasteSpotting, reaching 150,000+ visitors monthly
• Sales of Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi increased by 10
• Blog posts about Kona Blue went from three total posts in the entire blogosphere ever to an average of three posts per day.
Category: Blogger Relations
Company: ElectraTherm with PilmerPR
PilmerPR (www.pilmerpr.com) began public relations efforts for ElectraTherm (www.electratherm.com) in early 2008, preparing for the upcoming commercial launch of the ElectraTherm Green Machine. Having put forth virtually no public relations efforts prior to enlisting PilmerPR’s help with the product launch, ElectraTherm could not rely on name recognition in publicity efforts. Having already established itself as a leader in Green PR for small to mid-sized companies, PilmerPR faced head-on the challenge and opportunity to create ElectraTherm’s messaging and public voice from scratch. PilmerPR determined early on that targeting influential blogs and online news sites would be an essential part of its strategy for the launch of this breakthrough product.
ElectraTherm, Inc. delivers renewable energy solutions for a sustainable future, now. The ElectraTherm Green Machine is a recovered energy generator that makes low-cost electricity from residual industrial heat that has, until now, gone to waste. The company’s proven patented Twin Screw Expander enables its line of energy generators to make electricity from 200-degree Fahrenheit waste heat instead of fossil fuel. ElectraTherm’s fuel-free, emission-free and low cost technology offers the industry a recovered energy generator with the shortest payback period available. ElectraTherm determined to launch its new product, the ElectraTherm Green Machine, for commercial use in mid 2008. Prior to its commercial launch, ElectraTherm set up an on-site, working Green Machine at Southern Methodist University. Having this ElectraTherm Green Machine already in use would allow ElectraTherm to exhibit the technology and efficiency of its product.
ElectraTherm enlisted PilmerPR to provide Media and Blogger Relations for the Green Machine launch. The media focus on eco-friendly and green products surrounding the launch time provided huge opportunity for ElectraTherm and PilmerPR. Nearly every target print and online publication featured green products or stories in the months leading up to the launch. This meant there were editors, reporters, and bloggers focusing all their efforts on promoting green initiatives. The challenge was to present the ElectraTherm Green Machine launch in a compelling manner that would attract the eyes and ears of ElectraTherm’s target audience of editors, reporters, bloggers, and their readers. Along with the use of conventional public relations tactics of strategic planning, press releases, and media pitching, PilmerPR would also need to incorporate current PR trends of blogs and social media.
While the client was unfamiliar and somewhat wary of the use of social media and blogs, PilmerPR sought to reach a greater, more targeted audience through these tools than only outreaching to print and broadcast media. Visitors to blogs and social media sites would not usually include a large percentage of industrial purchasers and decision makers. Part of PilmerPR’s strategy was to create buzz among blogs, trade sites and news networks, that would reach industrial and social influencers, whether they personally frequent the sites or not. ElectraTherm was a relatively new company with virtually no press outreach or other public relations experience. It was just as important for PilmerPR to educate the client regarding expectations, methods and public relations best practices as it was to obtain positive press coverage for the launch.
ElectraTherm CEO Richard Langson, VP Bill Olson and other corporate investors. Every campaign must include key stakeholders as part of its target audience. PilmerPR’s messaging must meet the approval of company representatives. The campaign ultimately has to be deemed successful by these same representatives. If they are unsatisfied with the results, they will not ask PilmerPR for further work.
– Editors and reporters of target publications, bloggers. Because editors and reporters write for their readers, the readers are the ultimate target audience. In order to reach the readers in a compelling way, however, we had to first spark the interest of the editors, reporters and bloggers. These individuals all have distinct styles and interests. Being able to pitch for readers of TreeHugger (who are mainly conservation-minded individuals between the ages of 18 and 35) is very different than pitching for readers of CNET (who are high tech-minded influencers).
– Other environmental, energy and technology industry editors and companies. There are many publications and blogs that have small readership and were not the main focus of PilmerPR’s campaign efforts, but which are publications that would readily publish ElectraTherm’s announcement.
– Readers of targeted publications. The end goal in reaching out to any publication, be it print, blog, or other online publication, is to reach and influence their readers. PilmerPR’s extensive research and expert pitching built and strengthened relationships with editors, and, most importantly, reached the target audience of readers.
– Current and potential ElectraTherm customers. These are readers of target publications. They are listed as a separate target audience to emphasize the design of reaching these readers with the goal of making them aware of, and interested in purchasing, the ElectraTherm Green Machine to the end that they will purchase it. There was intentionally some overlap in the target audiences so as to confirm we were targeting all possibilities.
Increase national and international awareness of the ElectraTherm Green Machine through positive media coverage, resulting in at least 15 online media hits, and introducing the product to an audience of at least one million. PilmerPR developed a strategic plan to reach the established goal. The plan included the strategies and tactics listed below.
• Through written and mass communication, work to land stories in well-known, nationwide news sources. These include top news sites and blogs such as CNET, Gizmodo, and Engadget.
• Through written, mass and one-on-one communication, target publications specialized in the environment, energy and high-technology. These include TreeHugger, North American Clean Energy, and Energy Current.
• Through written, mass and one-on-one communication, educate and train ElectraTherm’s executives on media relations.
• Through mass communication, increase awareness of ElectraTherm’s Green Machine to readers of targeted publications.
• Through mass communication, persuade potential ElectraTherm customers to inquire further about the ElectraTherm Green Machine.
• Determine most newsworthy and appropriate content for pitching and press releases.
• Acquire statistics and persuasive evidence of how the ElectraTherm Green Machine is one-of-a-kind and newsworthy. This meant compiling a competitive matrix including all other companies producing tools remotely similar to the ElectraTherm Green Machine and being prepared to show how this product is superior.
• Use podcast and webcast to provide media targets with new media tools to learn about ElectraTherm. According to BusinessWire, media representatives are 250 times more likely to respond to pitch material including rich media content such as images, audio, or video material. PilmerPR would employ all of these techniques to gain the interest of the highest number of target contacts.
• Pin-point most influential publications specialized in environmentalism, energy and high-technology. Many of these sites/publications are new and more are springing up each month. Constant vigilance in research was required to make sure we had the right targets.
• Establish trusting relationships with editors or appropriate journalists at top-tier publications by getting to know their writing style, beat, interests and other useful information. The only way to do this was to read each blog, site, and publication article featuring related topics. This would allow PilmerPR team members to know exactly who to pitch at each organization.
• Ensure spokespeople and press releases are aligned with messaging. A representative of Gulf Coast Green Energy (ElectraTherm’s exclusive Green Machine distributor in Texas) would be the on-site spokesperson at Southern Methodist University. PilmerPR would still arrange all contact between media representatives, on-site spokespersons, and ElectraTherm corporate spokespersons.
The press release and other tactics to announce the first commercial installation of the ElectraTherm Green Machine were executed in May and June, 2008, after the unit was successfully tested at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Some members of the media were given personal tours of the unit, but since many were not able to see the unit in person, video podcasts, diagrams, photos, and press releases were used to describe the news to them and allow them to better share the news with their readers. A large portion of research and pitching efforts focused on bloggers and the best ways to reach out to them.
PilmerPR’s research indicated that, unlike traditional media, bloggers prefer more personal contact and are not always keen on receiving press releases. PilmerPR pitched the news to them after having become very familiar with the individual blogs and then contacting the bloggers via email (usually through the blog), offering content they could post. This resulted in coverage in at least 21 blogs.
Getting noticed in the flood of “green” messages is always a challenge. The most influential bloggers are now receiving hundreds of pitches every day, and PilmerPR knows they have to be given real news in order to bite. In targeting bloggers, PilmerPR offered substantial statistics and hard evidence of the true “green” nature of the Green Machine, in order to rise above the noise and be noticed. PilmerPR also realized the value that one blog mention would have on other bloggers. We saw many other blogs linking to posts of each blogger with whom we developed a relationship. Once the news was carried by a few of the major blogs, we had crossed the hurdle and saw a lot of resulting blog coverage.
In addition, PilmerPR overcame some technical hurdles to get the pitch out to bloggers. ElectraTherm provided an animated PowerPoint presentation to PilmerPR for use in a video podcast for reporters and bloggers. To mix the presentation with recorded narration, while maintaining a minimal file size, required converting the presentation to video that could be streamed online. Many programs were tried before finding one that would preserve PowerPoint’s animations and timing. Countless trials were then needed to ensure the audio matched the presentation. Finally, due to small print on the presentation, preserving that quality on a video-sharing Web site required trying many approaches. In the end, each of these challenges was overcome, and reporters were able to view the podcast in a variety of formats.
To convert the PowerPoint presentation to video, PilmerPR used Wondershare’s PPT2Video converter. The video podcast was uploaded to Podango.com for high resolution viewing and Google Video for quicker download times.
PilmerPR’s John Pilmer lead the campaign while Allison Yrungaray handled press release writing and direct pitching to bloggers and editors. PilmerPR’s Jack Shirts and Andon Carling performed supporting roles of conducting research, follow up, editing, and coverage duties. Loy Sneary of Gulf Coast Green Energy was the on-site media point of contact at Southern Methodist University. Bill Olsen, ElectraTherm vice president, acted as the corporate spokesman.
Due to a massive build-up of media relations, pitching, and an accompanying podcast and video podcast, PilmerPR’s efforts resulted in more blog coverage than initially anticipated. 21 blogs posted about the ElectraTherm Green Machine, including many of the targeted blogs and online news sites. Five additional feature articles and a television spot resulted. All told, PilmerPR’s campaign for the ElectraTherm Green Machine launch reached more than 36.8 million individuals, and saved the client approximately $1,127,700 in advertising value.
Being covered in 21 blogs, 5 additional news publications, and a Houston, Texas market T.V. news story, PilmerPR’s ElectraTherm Green Machine launch campaign was successful in meeting and exceeding quantitative goals. Quantitative success was measured by total number of blog and news posts/articles featuring the ElectraTherm Green Machine, as well as by the combined publication circulation sizes and blog and news site statistics regarding unique monthly visitors.
Qualitatively, success was measured by reaching targeted blogs and news sites, and their respective influence. For example, the announcement was featured in two of the top five rated blogs in the United States (Engadget and Gizmodo), and another, more targeted blog rated in the top 25 (Treehugger). The coverage and reviews on blogs and news sites was positive towards ElectraTherm and its newly launched product. In addition to these successes, a top tier technology publication with a national circulation of 7 million will announce in November the ElectraTherm Green Machine as a Green Technology Award winner for 2008.
PilmerPR’s stated goal for this product launch was to increase national and international awareness of the ElectraTherm Green Machine through positive media coverage, resulting in at least 15 online media hits, and introducing the product to an audience of at least one million. These goals were exceeded by leaps and bounds as PilmerPR garnered 24 online media hits two articles in print publications, and one T.V. news story. Instead of reaching an audience of one million viewers/readers, the ElectraTherm Green Machine launch coverage reached a combined 36.8 million viewers/readers.
Category: Blogger Relations
Company: MobileSphere with SHIFT Communications
MobileSphere (www.mobile-sphere.com) is a leading-edge provider of global wireless communications solutions leveraging the migration from fixed to mobile communications. The company focuses on providing mobile messaging and telephony solutions to service providers, enterprises, universities and consumers.
On July 21, 2008, MobileSphere planned to introduce its new product “slydial” to market. slydial is a free voice messaging service, connecting users directly to someone’s mobile voicemail. The service is an ideal way to save time, avoid an awkward conversation or relay information without interrupting friends, family or business contacts. In advance of the launch, MobileSphere tapped SHIFT Communications (www.shiftcomm.com) to plan and execute a traditional media campaign that incorporated a blogger relations campaign to get the word out about slydial.
Mobile services abound in the hot wireless telecommunications market, many of these services free. MobileSphere knew it needed to make an impact – a big impact – with its launch. It also knew that this type of fun, clever service could have a viral effect if the right people were talking about it. Therefore targeting the blogger community was a “must have.” The target audiences for the blogger relations program included: business bloggers, tech bloggers, women’s lifestyle bloggers, men’s lifestyle bloggers, teen bloggers, gossip bloggers, and mobile industry bloggers. While the slydial service may be most appealing to the 18-35 year old demographic, the product can be used by anyone.
Goal: To attract new users to the slydial service at the beta launch. Before the launch, slydial had 5,000 private alpha users.
1. Create creative angles and draft targeted pitches for each blogger, helping them to see how and why their specific reader community would use slydial
2. Develop and distribute a social media news release (SMNR) announcing the launch of slydial that includes multimedia elements such as videos to all blogger contacts. Include enough content that bloggers could post directly off the SMNR without needing an interview, if that’s their preference
3. Conduct outreach to blogger targets with these tailored pitches and the SMNR to secure interest and coverage surrounding the news
Starting July 1, the SHIFT team worked with MobileSphere to complete steps 1 & 2 above. Five of these sample pitches, as well as the SMNR can be found in the Supporting Documentation file. On July 21, the SHIFT team began step 3: pitch, pitch, pitch. Starting that day, SHIFT began fielding questions and working with the blogger community to secure coverage. The biggest challenge was something that SHIFT pointed out to MobileSphere during the agency review process: that this was not going to be a one-size-fits-all story. The team cautioned MobileSphere to consider that element carefully and to choose a social media team that understood the value of tailored pitches, and the importance of seeing each blogger as an individual.
MobileSphere hired SHIFT Communications to plan and execute this launch. The firm was brought on board for a two-month project, with the launch occurring about halfway into the engagement. The tools SHIFT used included old-fashioned email and phone pitching, and online research. SHIFT worked with MarketWire for the SMNR distribution. MobileSphere Co-founder and EVP, Marketing & Business Development Gavin Macomber and Marketing Manager Rima Patel were integral to the entire process, fielding questions from the SHIFT blogger relations team during the SMNR and pitch development process. At SHIFT Communications, the social media PR pros who planned and executed the campaign included Catherine Allen, Jennifer Humiston, Suzanne Aronowitz, Amanda Gravel and Ashley Girard.
The results speak for themselves: in one month of blogger relations outreach, MobileSphere’s slydial was covered in 381 blog posts. These results were the direct result of SHIFT’s blogger relations outreach, combined with the viral effect that those initial, high-profile posts had in the blogosphere. All of these results can be viewed with a Google News Blog Search: http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&client=news&q=slydial&ie=UTF8.
These successful postings were just as varied as the pitches that were sent.
To show the diversity and influence SHIFT’s pitches had on the resulting coverage, we have included five highlights – TechCrunch (tech blog), Perez Hilton (gossip blog), U.S. News & World Report: Dave’s Download (business blog), Asylum (men’s blog) and Popgadget (women’s blog) – in the Supporting Documentation. For each, we’ve included the blog name, the background, the pitch sent to the blog and the resulting coverage.
SHIFT used creativity, confidence and compelling storytelling skills to turn slydial into a true blogger relations overnight success. The myriad of posts (as well as traditional media coverage) hit consumers from all angles, and managed to bring slydial’s 5,000 private alpha users to more than 200,000 beta users in less than two weeks.
This significantly exceeded MobileSphere’s new user number goals for the program. Since MobileSphere tracked new users on a daily basis, it could correlate the spikes in coverage to the spikes in new users – showing the direct impact the program had on its business goals. These charts are included in the Supporting Documentation.
“SHIFT’s genuine excitement for our launch and their obvious PR smarts led our PR team to victory when we introduced slydial to the blogger community. The team’s strategic thinking and creative ideas turned slydial into an overnight success, and their ongoing social media counsel has ensured the launch hasn’t lost steam,” Gavin Macomber, Co-founder and EVP, Marketing & Business Development, MobileSphere
Category: Blogger Relations
Company: Second Rotation with SHIFT Communications
Category: Blogger relations
Company: Second Rotation with SHIFT Communications
In July of 2007, Second Rotation launched a consumer-facing online service that provides a fast, safe and practical way for people to get cash for selling back their used consumer electronics and/or recycle them in an environmentally friendly way – branding it under the company’s namesake. The company came to SHIFT (www.shiftcomm.com) in June, 2008 with the goal for a July re-launch of the site under the newly branded name Gazelle (www.gazelle.com). Though the original site was successful and had acquired thousands of users, the purpose of the re-launch was to announce the end of beta testing for the company as well as to make it more “consumer-friendly” with improved website features including Web 2.0 enhancements that make the user experience more intuitive and personalized.
The overall PR objective was to introduce Gazelle to existing and new consumers by leveraging the re-launch announcement to create new media relationships and secure coverage in consumer and business publications. Additionally, the team was tasked with positioning Second Rotation as an innovative company whose service addresses a clear consumer need for an easier, more convenient way to rid themselves of their used electronics.
In order to position the company positively in the media, SHIFT first needed to develop a solid messaging platform so Second Rotation could consistently relay accurate messages about the product and the company during media briefings. In order to secure interest from media, analysts, and bloggers, the team developed compelling pitches to capture their attention so that they would hold pre-brief meetings with Second Rotation prior to the Gazelle announcement and provide week-of coverage of the news.
To achieve a successful launch, SHIFT wrote a PR plan to outline and clearly communicate the strategy for the announcement to Second Rotation as well as internally. This included a proposed timeline, media targets, tactical approaches and specific metrics to determine the success of the campaign. Some additional elements that were needed to achieve this level of communication included access to the launch version of the site to educate press and analysts on the updated features and advanced functionality. Additionally, media training sessions were held with the key executives who were designated to serve as the spokespeople.
Second Rotation’s value proposition speaks to a wide consumer and business audience. In addition to attracting interest from the business and venture focused audience, the Gazelle story is primarily for the early adopters/technology forward consumers, green-minded consumers, organizational “closet cleaner” consumers and those who are looking for ways to help subsidize the high cost of living by making a few extra dollars here and there. In an effort to reach this expansive audience base, SHIFT set forth to secure coverage from mainstream consumer and business press as well as niche bloggers who speak to the above audiences.
SHIFT wanted to pay particular attention to cultivating relationships with the blogger community surrounding this launch. Bloggers have become very powerful – even acting more as a third party reference in some cases. Blogging has proved itself to be an extension of journalism. According to The State of the News Media report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Internet news audience (a growing group that is younger and better educated than the general population) is growing both skeptical and critical of the mainstream media’s fairness and accuracy. Though the debate surrounding traditional journalism vs. blogging continues, there’s no doubt of the medium popularity. According to the survey, there were 70 million blogs as of spring 2007.
Since the traditional users of Second Rotation had been the early adopter/techie types, we wanted to be sure to reach them through tech-focused blog sites so that those who were already aware of the service would be updated to the new brand. This audience often sources their own blog content from these outlets, which in turn results in a viral sharing of the news. The VC/business, green and “closet cleaner” audiences all have destination blogs of their own. Since readers often become evangelists and share the news they learn via a multitude of Web 2.0 functionalities (e.g. Digg and Technorati Tags), reaching key bloggers was the best strategy for reaching Gazelle’s target market.
SHIFT’s goal for the blogger relations campaign surrounding this outreach was to secure coverage from at least five niche bloggers surrounding the announcement of Gazelle. The objective was to build a long-term relationship with key bloggers so that we not only secure coverage surrounding the initial launch, but so that they would gain a genuine interest in the company and post about future initiatives and company news. In order to launch the Gazelle brand and subsequent website to the consumer marketplace without creating skeptical or negative press surrounding the announcement, the team put forth the tactical plan to reach the key consumer, green-minded and VC/business audiences by targeting the sources that they turn to for news, tips and how-to type information – niche blogs.
The Second Rotation team first made sure to create a clear and concise communications platform to be able to differentiate the key messages that we wanted to get across to each specific audience and corresponding blog outlets. To target the Web 2.0 savvy bloggers, the team proposed and executed a Social Media News Release (SMNR), which is aimed to evolve traditional press release formats for the dawning Social Media age by including multimedia content (video, audio etc.), core news facts, RSS feeds to relevant news, and tags for aggregator sites (Digg and Technorati). The SMNR is something that those, especially in the blogging community, appreciate – since it is self-containing and bloggers can easily pick and chose which elements they want to repurpose – making the essential rapid reaction to news possible. The team reached out to specific bloggers in each space with specific messaging and elements that would be compelling to them such as specific industry metrics (e.g. e-waste stats for those interested in the green story). As with any blogger, the team made sure to fully research the areas of interest to them as well as what types of stories they cover. Additional key ideas the team is always conscious of when reaching out to the blogger community include:
– Reading at least 20 recent posts and comments – becoming familiar with personalities and interests
– Participate – Becoming part of the community by posting comments
– Total transparency – Never posing as anything other than you are – a PR representative
– Customizing every pitch – Never sending a “mass” pitch
– Lead time – Bloggers appreciate getting news in advanced, we always offer to send the news embargoed and are available to hold pre-announcement meetings
Each blogger was introduced to a Gazelle executive and given a sneak peak into the upcoming launch of the new Gazelle website and improved service. They were provided with screen shots, a video demo, and access to the stage site as well as the press release. The main challenge was working to schedule meetings during the summer holiday. Many bloggers were interested in meeting, but were not available to hold meetings because vacation/travel schedules. Launching a product during these summer months is not ideal, although due to product rollout – can’t be avoided at times.
Tools that the team used included:
SMNR – The Social Media News Release is aimed to evolve traditional press release formats for the dawning Social Media age by including multimedia content (video, audio etc.), core news facts, RSS feeds to relevant news, and tags for aggregator sites (Digg and Technorati). (see Marketwire: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Second-Rotation-883081.html)
Video demo – see Marketwire: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/mmframe?prid=419421&attachid=804894
Flash Drive press kits (via iPromo)
– Julie Crabill, Vice President of Consumer Lifestyle Practice
– Audrey Craipain, Account Manager
– Colleen Wickwire, Senior Account Executive
– Daisy Kong, Account Coordinator
In addition to surpassing coverage goals that had been set for this tour, there was a clear and substantial value resulting from the relationships that were formed by way of the meetings. We succeeded in securing positive and in-depth coverage from bloggers in each key industry. The most telling sign of this campaign’s success however, can be measured by the end result of increased users. As a direct result of the blog coverage immediately following the announcement, Gazelle.com received nearly 8,000 visitors to the site in less than a 2-day period.
SHIFT’s goal for this campaign was to build relationships with the blogger community as well as secure coverage from at least five niche bloggers surrounding the announcement. The success of both objectives was clearly evident by not only the surplus of coverage (we received 8 posts), but by the subsequent opportunities that came from the relationships that were formed.
There are other opportunities that can be indirectly linked to this successful blogger relations program, most notably a feature on the Today Show (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/26035435#26035435). A producer for the show reached out to us shortly after the launch to let us know Gazelle would be included in an upcoming segment. When asked how she learned of us, she explained that there had been coverage of the launch on several blog posts that she was reading and decided Gazelle would be a good service to alert Today Show viewers to.