17 to 1: Babylon Takes an American Leap
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17 to 1: Babylon Takes an American Leap

Having already established international success based on PepperCom's initial launch of the translation and conversion tool, Babylon.com again looked to PepperCom to strategically guide the company in launching the latest version of its freeware, especial

Paul Holmes

  Before coming to PepperCom, Israeli-based Babylon.com had established itself as a leading online translation and conversion tool for non-English speakers with a loyal customer base of 4 million users worldwide.  Despite Babylon’s international acclaim, the need for its one-click tool was not as great in the United States where user downloads ranked 17th in the world.  In an attempt to bridge into the American marketplace and further its successes overseas, Babylon came to PepperCom to help build upon its existing freeware and to prepare a launch for an updated version of its technology.
From a public relations perspective, the new version represented the first freeware that allowed users to choose their own content on the Web, helping them to make instant sense of topic-specific terminology and promoting the creation of true online communities of people with shared interests.
CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES
Babylon had to prove that its product was unique and that it fulfilled a specific need for Web users and e-businesses worldwide, especially in the United States.  Since it was primarily known for a translation feature that American users did not need, Babylon also had to drive downloads and convince individuals and businesses to submit their glossaries for others to use, supporting its goal of creating an open exchange of information online.   Lastly, Babylon had to demonstrate why its technology was more sophisticated than some of its key competitors who had been receiving significant coverage in America.
The newest version afforded individuals, businesses and organizations the opportunity to develop and showcase their own glossaries of specialized terms to millions of Babylon users worldwide.  These glossaries were direct products of such well-respected companies as Britannica.com, Zacks and Accuweather.com, as well as specialized organizations like Dietwatch.com and Whatis.com.  It also empowered individuals with special interests to submit trend glossaries such as Harry Potter, Ally McBeal and Pokemon. 
OBJECTIVE
Having already established international success based on PepperCom's initial launch of the translation and conversion tool, Babylon.com again looked to PepperCom to strategically guide the company in launching the latest version of its freeware, especially with American reporters and users.  The ultimate goal was to increase the number of American downloads of the tool and glossary submissions to the site. 
Babylon’s freeware targeted two main audiences: 
Internet users in the United States and other countries worldwide looking for a source for instant information - from definitions to translations to conversions of currencies, metrics and time zones - and an opportunity to share their expertise with millions of users worldwide.
Any e-business looking to position its company as a leading expert in a given discipline and to find a new and unique avenue for driving additional traffic back to its Web site.  
STRATEGY
In order to introduce Babylon’s new platform to the American marketplace and to separate the company from its competitors, PepperCom recommended that Babylon develop a revised positioning that could be marketed to the American media and other external audiences.  The exercise aimed to do three things:
  • Highlight the key features that make Babylon unique.
  • Create a need for the product in a crowded space.
  • Provide an umbrella positioning that could be utilized as the company and product continued to evolve.  
To achieve this, PepperCom researched the views of internal and external constituents through comprehensive, one-on-one interviews and conducted a survey of the competitive landscape.  With the results of this research, PepperCom developed a unique and sustainable positioning for Babylon: Bringing a world of information to users’ fingertips in a single click, Babylon.com’s freeware instantly unlocks everything from definitions to translations to conversions.  Babylon’s platform enables individuals, businesses and organizations to easily share their own expertise with millions of Babylon users worldwide.  
PepperCom also did an extensive search of media covering emerging technologies, online reference and search tools, Internet and high-technology terminology and clutter on the Web.  PepperCom then developed a targeted media list for the launch date to ensure that the media outreach would be geared toward those specifically covering Babylon's space. 
The new version was originally scheduled to launch in late June.  However, following a series of pushbacks, Babylon decided on a launch date in August.  Recognizing the importance of continuing the momentum during this interim, PepperCom worked to maintain the visibly of the older version. The goal was to steadily increase the user base by familiarizing audiences with the benefits of the translation and conversion features.   By the time of the new launch, the tool would have strengthened its popularity and the new version would be positioned as an enhanced version of the already-popular freeware.
TACTICS/EXECUTION
As a result of the positioning and competitive research, PepperCom developed a public relations plan to effectively deliver Babylon's newly established positioning statement and meet the following goals: 
  • Raise awareness among American media covering the Internet and online communities.
  • Raise visibility by establishing a presence at key industry trade shows and events.
  • Develop “win-win” partnerships with Web sites that attract specific communities of visitors in order to encourage glossary submissions and spread the word about Babylon.
  • Continue the momentum post-launch.
Some specific program strategies included:  
  • Conducting comprehensive media training.
  • Developing a media script. 
  • Developing databases and collateral materials.
  • Conducting pre-briefing and day-of-launch interviews with media and analysts.
  • Developing strategic partnerships. 
  • Researching speaking platforms and key conferences.
  • Initiating ongoing media relations and announcements. 

RESULTS

As a direct result of the publicity, the American user base leaped from #17 to #1.  Furthermore, since the launch, individuals and businesses have certainly recognized the value of Babylon’s tool. Glossary submission has skyrocketed from 200 at launch to 3,500 to date.  The user base has also expanded from 4 to 7.5 million since August.
As a result of PepperCom's public relations initiatives, Babylon secured a number of speaking and exhibiting opportunities including a panel at Silicon Alley Reporter's International Network 2000 and Upside’s Launch! event and was named as a finalist in MIT’s Sloan e-Business Awards in a category with companies including eBay and Monster.com.  Press coverage of Babylon.com both prior to, and following, the launch of the new version was significant.  Articles highlighting the older version appeared in The Associated Press, Forbes, The New York Times, abcnews.com, CNNfn, Smart Business, Family PC, San Diego Union Tribune, Newsweek, The Washington Times and Yahoo! Internet Life, leading to significant download numbers. Details of the new version appeared in a major Reuter’s piece that ran in Business Week, Yahoo! News, Fox Newswire, CNNfn and SiliconValley.com . Other outlets included access, CNET, Time Out New York, PC World, Kiplinger’s Financial Finance Magazine, The Newark Star-Ledger and Newsbytes.  Babylon's CEO was also featured on a series of radio programs.
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Technology-New Media
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