When Sterling Hager, Inc. (SHI) began its relationship with Sedona Networks in late 1999, this Canadian-based telecommunications hardware manufacturer start-up was an unknown entity in the crowded telecommunications industry. SHI faced numerous challenges in executing a successful public relations campaign for Sedona Networks, a company who had no product, customers, or partners. In addition, the company lacked name recognition and had minimal Web site visitors. Raising Sedona Networks’ profile in the burgeoning telecommunications marketplace would be difficult, especially where big players like Lucent, Nortel and Cisco were commanding the mind-share of industry editors and analysts. Despite these obstacles, SHI was determined to achieve success and ultimately helped put this company on the map.
SHI was aware that since the network access space wasn’t viewed as a “sexy” topic in the minds of editors and analysts (compared to the wireless space, for example), a strategy of a simple pitch informing the industry about a small, virtually unknown Canadian company would not be successful. The SHI team decided to take a creative approach to lift Sedona Networks above the fray and discovered a way to incorporate Sedona Networks’ vision into an important industry issue that grabbed the attention of journalists and analysts and made them willing to listen to what Sedona Networks had to say.
Through researching and reading trade publications, analyst reports, and local and national newspapers, the SHI team scoured the telecommunications industry for issues where Sedona Networks could provide insight and position themselves as experts in their field. The team found this opportunity in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that was to take effect in May 2000. This FCC regulation (#99-238) created an environment that making it necessary for upstart telecommunications providers to rebuild their network infrastructure in order to deliver faster, better quality and differentiated service to customers to remain competitive. Because most infrastructure vendors and carriers remained unaware of the ruling, the Agency developed a plan to use the FCC ruling as a hook to establish Sedona Networks as a leader in the infrastructure industry who understood a carrier’s needs and also was aware of the direction in which the market was turning. Using a broad theme to grab the attention of the industry, SHI also knew that this would be a chance for Sedona Networks’ to demonstrate that its technology can help service providers to meet these newly regulated infrastructure requirements.
SHI moved forward with a plan to obtain the following objectives:
Schedule appointments for Sedona Networks to speak with respected industry editors and analysts to inform them about the FCC regulation and Sedona Networks’ technology.
Secure a speaking opportunity for Sedona Networks to provide them with a platform to present the issue directly to carriers.
Secure coverage about this issue and Sedona Networks in key industry publications and analyst reports.
Establish Sedona Networks as a thought leader in the telecommunications industry; increase Sedona Networks’ credibility and visibility; and validate the need for Sedona Networks’ technology.
To meet these objectives the team executed the following activities:
Wrote a press release about the FCC ruling, its effect in the industry, and Sedona Networks’ spin on the issue, incorporating information obtained through extensive research.
Pitched the announcement to Sedona Networks’ top tier analysts and press to secure appointments with them for the planned 5-day press and analyst tour.
Researched applicable tradeshows and submitted speaking abstracts for Sedona Networks to speak about the FCC regulation.
The biggest hurdle at the start of the PR program was piquing the interest of journalists and the press. The SHI team knew that it needed to create a variety of concise and to-the-point pitches that would grab the attention of the editorial community and made sure to use just the right amount of emphasis on the FCC ruling while also mentioning Sedona Networks in the process. A successful tactic, this kept journalists on the phone and the press returned the Agency’s phone calls. Many journalists and analysts were interested in learning about the FCC ruling, but were even more interested in Sedona Networks’ technology that could help carriers conduct business in the new regulatory environment.
The results of the press and analyst tour were phenomenal and Sedona Networks is still experiencing the aftershocks. The results listed below increased Sedona Networks’ industry visibility and enabled Sedona Networks to enter five trials with carriers. In addition, the company’s Web site traffic increased by 50 percent. The team’s PR success include:
Fourteen appointments with trade analysts and press for Sedona Networks to complete a successful 5-day tour.
Two speaking slots for Sedona Networks at two key industry conferences, ALTS (Association for Local Telecommunications Services) and Broadband Year.
Nine press articles that mentioned or featured Sedona Networks appearing in key industry trade publications as a result of the 5-day editor and analyst tour, including an America’s Network cover story (see supporting materials).
Current Analysis analyst Ron Westfall issued a report about Sedona Networks stating that, “The ability [of Sedona Networks to attune its messaging to the FCC 99-238 ruling shows their savvy in meeting head-on the regulatory transformations that impact new carriers.” (See supporting material.) These program results increased Sedona Networks’ credibility in the industry and the company has been covered frequently by the media and was identified in Interactive Week as an example of a company that is leading one of ten major technology trends.
The SHI team’s insight and program execution resulted in a significant positive impact on the success of Sedona Networks. As a direct result of SHI’s PR activities, Sedona Networks gained credibility and visibility in the marketplace and became a recognizable name. Six months later, Sedona Networks is frequently featured in trade publications and is a well-known telecommunications hardware manufacturer. Editors are now interested in the company and customers who are not even in trials with the company are presenting with Sedona Networks at industry conferences about the importance of Sedona Networks’ infrastructure. In addition, analysts have repeatedly informed SHI of their approval of Sedona Networks’ approach to solving an important network issue and its ability to recognize and address the concerns of carriers.
Recently, SHI executed a two-week tour for Sedona Networks prior to an announcement planned for COMNET (January 29-February 1) and also planned meetings with press and analysts for Sedona Networks at COMNET. In total, 30 appointments were secured for Sedona Networks with industry analysts such as Yankee Group, Gartner, Current Analysis, Telechoice, Stratecast Partners and The Burton Group, and publications such as Telephony, America’s Network, Telecommunications, Network World, [email protected] Week, The Net Economy, Computer Telephony. Clearly, the opportunity that SHI created for Sedona Networks has put Sedona Networks on the map.