Bringing the Web to Seniors
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Bringing the Web to Seniors

SAGEport’s online marketplace and community and specially designed hardware empower seniors with the capabilities and resources of the Internet.

Paul Holmes

SAGEport’s online marketplace and community and specially designed hardware empower seniors with the capabilities and resources of the Internet.
 
In preparation for the January 2000 company launch, Text 100 presented SAGEport with a comprehensive PR strategy to help the company establish itself as a leader in the emerging Internet service market for the senior community.  With the product availability nearly one year away, Text 100 recognized the importance of proactively elevating the issue of bringing seniors on the Internet to the forefront of the business, industry analyst and technology communities.  Text 100 identified the need for successful corporate initiatives that would:

       Provide a platform for SAGEport to build relationships with media and other key industry influential audiences

       Educate and increase the attention of seniors and the Internet

       Lay the groundwork for the product introduction that was nearly one year away
 
CHALLENGES
 
Throughout planning and execution, SAGEport faced significant challenges including:
Lack of awareness in this market (limited media covering seniors and technology or the Web)
Inability to show the product for nearly ten months - Text 100 could only talk about the concept
Internet appliance category wasn’t being well-received by the media
Media and industry analysts didn’t think many seniors would go online
Competition in the senior site category was increasing rapidly
 
RESEARCH
 
Currently, less than 15 million of the 45 million seniors in the U.S. are online.  According to Census Bureau projections, the senior population will more than double between now and the year 2050.  The Internet provides a powerful communications vehicle where seniors can find answers, seek advice and communicate with their peers and family.  Because of their concentration of wealth and relative availability of free time, seniors are extremely well suited to targeted online advertising and marketing.  Prior to SAGEport’s launch, there had not been an Internet environment or appliance focused on the specific programming needs and buying habits of seniors.  Therefore, advertisers and merchants seeking to reach concentrations of seniors online are under-served.
 
OBJECTIVES
 
The objectives of the campaign were:

  • Educate on the need to help seniors get tech savvy

       Establish an identity for SAGEport

       Position SAGEport as the leading provider of Internet services for the senior community

       Increase awareness for SAGEport, SAGEvision and SAGEport.com among strategic partners, merchants, congregate living facilities, venture capitalists and seniors
 
AUDIENCE
 
When Text 100 began the campaign, the target audiences consisted of strategic partners, merchants, congregate living facilities and venture capitalists.  However, as the campaign moved closer to the launch of the Web appliance, Text 100 began targeting senior citizens as well.
 
STRATEGY
 
Text 100 created a strategy that would take the company from its launch to the initial introduction of its senior-friendly Internet appliance and service bundle.  Initially, Text 100 focused on building visibility for the category and company with influencers.  With this support, Text 100 launched the company and elevated the media interest in the senior market at a high-level industry conference.  Following the launch of the company, Text 100 recommended that it create awareness for the Web site in preparation of the Internet appliance.  At this point, Text 100 focused efforts on creating “buzz” for the appliance, prior to its availability.  Once the company had built recognition, the market was ready to hear about its initial Internet appliance partner (Intel).  This provided credibility for the market category and the company.  Throughout these efforts, Text 100 recommended the company put a face on the technology and leveraged members of SAGEport to highlight the technology’s positive effect on seniors.
 
PLANNING & EXECUTION
 
Phase One -- Launching the company and product concept
Timeline:  January-March 2000
Text 100 recommended a phased approach for SAGEport, with the launch of the company centered on a keynote at one of the industry’s premier technology conferences held in January.  To maximize the visibility at the conference, two weeks prior to the launch, Text 100 took the company on an influencer tour, meeting with Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, New York Times, Red Herring, US News & World Report and Newsweek, among others.  At the conference, Text 100 recommended that SAGEport bring a senior citizen on stage with them to highlight the simplicity and benefits of the technology to this age group.  It was a hit -- everyone came up to the president and CEO to comment that it was one of the best presentations at the show.  In addition to the events happening at the conference, Text 100 contacted more than 100 media and industry analysts to drive visibility for the company.  Due to the coverage generated, within the first few days the company fielded hundreds of calls from sales, investors, potential customers and partners.
 
Phase Two -- Launching the first tangible: the Web site
Timeline:  March--July 2000
During this time period Text 100 recommended focusing on the first sign of product development, the online community and marketplace.  Text 100 worked with SAGEport to launch the Web site and focused its efforts on creating awareness among its end users, seniors.  Text 100 issued a radio news release and NAPS release that helped increase membership and “buzz” for the appliance.
 
Phase Three -- Leveraging the Intel partnership to launch SAGEvision
Timeline:  August 2000
This was the phase where all the previous education and foundation building came to fruition.  Text 100 worked in tandem with Intel to aggressively pursue coverage.   Text 100 and Intel teamed together to announce the first partner of the Intel Dot.Station.  The efforts were a success.  In two days, the companies jointly pre-briefed 14 industry analysts and top-tier journalist from IDC to Business Week.  On August 14, 2000, the companies issued a joint release that resulted in more than seven pieces of coverage, the content of which proved that the education campaign paid off.
 
EVALUATION
 
Following the company launch, SAGEport received an amazing amount of targeted print, broadcast and online media coverage, including:  PC Magazine, Forbes, Red Herring, Upside, CNNfn.com, Washington Post, [email protected]tive Week, DemoLetter, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Dallas Morning News, Detroit News, King 5 News (Seattle), KMOV-TV 4 (St. Louis) Internet.com.  This coverage highlighted both the need to help seniors get tech savvy and SAGEport as a company that was doing so, successfully meeting campaign objectives.
 
In order to create the  “buzz” with consumers, Text 100 issued a successful radio news release that generated an estimated 699 broadcasts and an audience of more than 6 million listeners.  In addition, Text 100 issued a NAPS release that was placed in 304 outlets with a circulation of more than 4.7 million.  Approximately 62.5 percent of the placements were in the top 50 markets, including Atlanta, Tampa, New York, Dallas, Kansas.
 
When the company announced its first Internet appliance partner Intel, the results were outstanding with coverage in ZDNET, internet.com, PC World, The 451.com, Internet World, Business Week and c|net.  In addition to these outlets, SAGEport and Intel also spoke with Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine, Industry Standard and IDC and Invisioneering analysts, among others.
 
Coverage Highlights:

       CNNfn.com:  “Savvy senior gizmos”

      PC World: "Net Appliance Targets Seniors”

      King 5 TV:  "Turning Seniors into Surfers”

       Interactive Week:  "Sageport Aims to Wire Older Newbies”

       Seattle Post-Intelligencer:  "Web firm aiming at the older generation”

Internet.com:  "Sageport.com Gears Up for Some Senior-level Action”

Article tags
Technology-New Media
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