OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Text 100 had been working with XRM for two years when it was asked to support the division’s spin-off. Since first announcing the XRM division in June 1999, Text 100 had helped it quickly transition from market upstart to established player. Supporting XRM’s spin-off was a natural evolution, both for the division’s own business strategy and for its relationship with Text 100. ContentGuard was launching into an increasingly crowded market sector, with furor over the Napster issue creating mounting excitement about the potential of copyright protection technology for digital music, books and film distributed over the Internet. While offering a dynamic industry context, this made Text 100’s clear articulation of ContentGuard’s differentiators imperative to its success. With two of the world’s biggest technology names, Microsoft and Xerox backing the new venture, Text 100 had a unique opportunity to leverage the combined investors' brand value to generate considerable attention around the launch. However, it was also important that Text 100 clearly delineate ContentGuard as an independent entity. Text 100 was challenged with ensuring ContentGuard’s mission was clearly communicated, while coordinating the messaging and differing priorities of all three companies.
Since Text 100 was launching a new brand, its first task was to clearly define ContentGuard’s technology offering and differentiate the new company against some heavyweight competitors, including IBM and Adobe. In addition to a thorough industry analysis, examining how competitors’ positioning translated to perception in media coverage and analyst reports, Text 100 also conducted an extensive telephone audit of key influencers. Through this work, Text 100 was able to generate a clear picture of how XRM was perceived, the issues it faced with differentiating itself in the market, and the focus needed in ContentGuard’s messaging to give it a position of strength and clarity at launch.
Text 100 initiated launch planning by conducting an all-partner conference call which ascertained each company’s objectives and messaging needs for the announcement and agreed roles and responsibilities. Text 100 took on four main roles for the event: Overall consultancy on announcement strategy; print media relations; analyst relations; and investor/partner/customer liaison ownership. The Xerox team handled event logistics and international and broadcast media relations. As well as contributing a central Xerox-driven plan for the event, Text 100 folded the company launch in XRM’s overall PR plan, ensuring that PR activity for the division leading up the event would support messaging and activity for ContentGuard’s launch and lay the groundwork for follow-on activity.
- Establish ContentGuard as a premier player in the field of digital copyright management
- Position ContentGuard as an independent company with a strong technology and business heritage and an exciting future
- Leverage the brand value of ContentGuard’s investor companies to generate exposure for the new company and position the company as a strong, viable business
- Use ContentGuard’s launch to educate target audiences on the company’s mission and technology benefits, providing a platform for ongoing communications
- Initiate relationships for key ContentGuard spokespeople with media and analyst influencers, positioning them as business-savvy industry visionaries
- Use industry analysts and partners to provide third-party credibility to underline the importance of ContentGuard to the digital copyright management market space
Text 100’s activity around the launch focused on the following:
Overall consultancy: Text 100 provided ongoing consultancy to Xerox, Microsoft and ContentGuard on all elements of the announcement. Text 100 created new messaging for ContentGuard, trained its spokespeople to deliver the news effectively, and worked with investors to develop announcement specific messaging that integrated required positioning for all parties. Text 100 also provided input on Xerox CEO Rick Thoman’s speech to ensure that it reflected Xerox and ContentGuard messaging and proof points and drafted a central Q&A for the event, ensuring that all parties’ spokespeople were communicating the same points.
Partner/Customer Liaison: Text 100’s partner and customer liaison involved two major groups: the investor companies, which were actively involved in launch activity; and ContentGuard’s new customers and business partners, which were used to lend third-party credibility to the announcement. By holding initial planning discussions and daily logistics calls with the investors’ PR teams, Text 100 ensured all parties were bought into the new company’s positioning and that all elements were in place to make the event sufficiently high-profile. Critical to the event’s success was securing the attendance of the Xerox and Microsoft CEOs as hosts. Text 100 worked with each organization to communicate the positive exposure to be gained by the press conference, successfully securing their most senior-level representation. In terms of ContentGuard’s customers and business partners, Text 100 worked with them to secure third-party endorsement for media interviews and collateral, ensuring that their spokespeople were trained on key messaging around the announcement.
Analyst Liaison: To ensure that industry analysts, traditionally fans of XRM, bought into the vision of ContentGuard as an independent entity, Text 100 coordinated confidential telephone pre-briefings with contacts at seven major analyst houses, including Gartner Group, Jupiter and Forrester. Pre-briefing analysts enabled Text 100 to secure a quote from Aberdeen Group for the announcement press release and offer analyst comment to the media immediately after the announcement. All analyst targets were invited to the event, with five contacts making the trip to the West Coast.
Print media relations: Text 100 was responsible for domestic media outreach, with the key priority to brief the maximum number of target business, trade and vertical media on ContentGuard’s launch. The announcement had the potential to have a major impact on the investors’ share prices, so Text 100 was unable to issue a media alert until the afternoon prior to the announcement. An effective and targeted last-minute sell-in strategy was vital to the event’s success. Outreach to attract attendees was limited to the top-150 targets, the majority of whom were West Coast-based, timing meant East Coast editors were unlikely to attend. At 2:00 p.m. the day before the event, a media alert was issued to these targets via email, immediately followed by telephone pitching to ensure maximum event attendance. Text 100’s challenge was to provide enough information to generate attendance without giving away material information. By highlighting the investor names and the technology sectors to be impacted, Text 100 secured 70 media attendees. Those unable to attend were invited to view the event via live Webcast. Spokespeople from ContentGuard, Microsoft and Xerox were divided into three interview tracks immediately after the event, so Text 100 was able to provide telephone or face-to-face briefings with all three companies to those requiring further information. To ensure that ContentGuard’s business operations were clearly communicated, Text 100 drafted an announcement press release, issued on the morning of the event and press background collateral about the new company.
To evaluate success of the press conference and supporting activity, Text 100 undertook the following:
Coverage Analysis: to highlight the key messages reflected in media pick-up. This measured both coverage of event messaging and how extensively the new company’s mission came through (typically, this was discussed in more detail in later coverage than in the hard news articles published on launch day). Finally, Text 100 evaluated coverage to assess use of third-party endorsers, including customers, partners and analysts
Media and Analyst Audit: to measure influencers’ understanding of the new company’s differentiators and gauge their feedback on its strategy, as communicated via launch activity
Client Feedback: Text 100 held a de-brief meeting with the ContentGuard team to assess their feelings about the success of the launch and provide them with key analyst and media feedback gathered during the post-launch audit. The results were used to refine the new company’s positioning and shape PR strategy moving forward