Creating a Drumbeat of Publicity with Soft News
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Creating a Drumbeat of Publicity with Soft News

Citigate Cunningham was charged with ensuring that Pitney Bowes’ needs for strengthening its value proposition and sustaining solid media coverage were met in 2000.

Paul Holmes

 

This nomination highlights the media relations campaign designed for the launch of Pitney Bowes’ Workplace Messaging Research Study.  Citigate Cunningham was charged with ensuring that Pitney Bowes’ needs for strengthening its value proposition and sustaining solid media coverage were met in 2000.  The campaign results merit attention and recognition because it helped meet and exceed every goal set forth by Pitney Bowes.   Citigate Cunningham’s strategic focus and thoughtful tactical execution served as the driving force behind an incredibly successful media relations and thought leadership campaign that would help springboard Pitney Bowes into 2001.

CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY

Pitney Bowes’ fourth annual workplace messaging study, which analyzed how workers interact with their messaging environments, was the company’s primary proactive media driver in 2000 and previous years.  Pitney Bowes’ challenge was to extend the promotional value of the study in order to sustain a steady drumbeat of coverage based on the study findings, which, historically, were viewed as “evergreen” versus “breaking” news, offering no real sense of urgency for media coverage.  Pitney Bowes needed to break down the study’s themes into interesting and “media friendly” information that would increase the company’s thought leadership in the market, showing businesses, customers and influencers that they truly understand the trends in workplace messaging.  To ensure the success of the project, Citigate Cunningham implemented a multi-pronged media relations program designed to garner press coverage and drive thought leadership.

RESEARCH, PLANNING PROCESS AND OBJECTIVES

Between January and March 2000, Pitney Bowes conducted the research in conjunction with the Institute for the Future (IFTF).  The study was designed and tailored to reveal detailed messaging trends for customers and businesses in the United States, Canada, France Germany and the UK.  While the study’s findings were of importance to all workers in several countries, Citigate Cunningham was specifically responsible for creating awareness in the United States and Canada.  Therefore, Citigate Cunningham had to create a targeted media relations campaign tailored to publications of interest to workers at all levels in both the United States and Canada.   

The objectives of the campaign were to:

  • Leverage the study’s themes, sub-themes, categorical findings and quantitative results to garner sustained media coverage in a wide range of United States and Canadian print and broadcast outlets through 2000
  • Increase the quality and quantity of coverage over previous year’s results in the United States and Canada
  • Leverage the research platform to help build Pitney Bowes’ value proposition and thought leadership in the twenty-first century
  • Leverage the study’s status as the most comprehensive workplace study in order to secure a top-tier print exclusive that launches the umbrella findings of the study
  • Secure multiple top-tier print articles and a nationally syndicated article

STRATEGIC APPROACH

To meet our goal of maintaining a steady drumbeat of press coverage throughout 2000, we employed a multi-tiered media relations campaign.  In order to break down the complex study findings, we implemented a press release strategy in which 10 press releases were disseminated over a 10-week timeframe.  The launch press release detailed the umbrella findings of the study.  The releases that followed broke down the study’s themes into topical soundbites, making this very complex research understandable to all workers.  The press release strategy continuously offered the media new story angles and fresh perspectives.

Citigate Cunningham developed a public relations media outreach plan that utilized all forms of media including magazine, newspaper, radio and television.  Based on our understanding of the likes and dislikes of United States versus Canadian media, we tailored each press release and pitch to the main ideas of interest to both markets.  Increasing Pitney Bowes’ thought leadership and value proposition in the marketplace required developing press releases that spoke to current market trends and the future of the industry.  The complex language involved such as “knowledge worker” and “social networks,” was simplified (but not over-simplified) in order to reach audiences of all levels of work experience.

While we honed in on various aspects of the research findings, we maintained a common theme focusing on the business implications surrounding Pitney Bowes’ research findings.  By targeting all audiences across various media outlets with specific outreach and specific tactics, we were effective in meeting communications goals that supported Pitney Bowes’ key business objectives.

CAMPAIGN EXECUTION

Through an extensive and proactive media relations campaign, Citigate Cunningham launched an aggressive, awareness-building campaign to position Pitney Bowes as research experts in the minds of key customers, media and influencers by utilizing a wide variety of media outlets.  The tactical execution of Citigate Cunningham’s campaign unfolded as follows:

  • Worked with Pitney Bowes and IFTF to develop the key findings and themes that emerged from the study’s research
  • Developed 10 press releases detailing the study’s findings for distribution to a database of well over 500 media contacts between July and September; tailored each release for Canadian and United States distribution
  • Developed and distributed a comprehensive 30-page Executive Summary to media and analysts
  • Developed and distributed a comprehensive press kit that included the Executive Summary and launch press release, a fact sheet of the findings, a Pitney Bowes and IFTF fact sheet, biographies and a “best practices” list
  • Secured top-tier national print exclusives for Canada and the United States that ran on the day of the launch
  • Developed 30 specialized media pitches targeted at select reporters from top-tier, major metro, online and technology/business publications
  • Coordinated a Satellite Media Tour (SMT) than ran on a wide variety of national television stations
  • Coordinated an Audio News Release (ANR) that was aired on radio stations nationwide
  • Developed a 500 word bylined article highlighting the major study findings
  • Developed a nationally distributed NAPS article to insure regional saturation of the news

SUMMARY

Citigate Cunningham’s efforts exceeded client goals and expectations.  Incredibly, the study generated well over two-thirds of Pitney Bowes’ United States media coverage in 2000.  The following maps Citigate Cunningham’s results to the five main objectives:

Goal #1:  Leverage the study’s themes, sub-themes, categorical findings and quantitative results to garner sustained media coverage in a wide range of print and broadcast outlets through 2000

Coverage documented from launch day, July 24, 2000 through December 31, 2000 includes a total of 4,678 print, broadcast and online placements, reaching an audience of approximately 51 million.  Furthermore, the study was covered in either the #1 or #2 ranked newspaper in eight of the top 10 United States DMA markets.  Citigate Cunningham’s campaign generated multiple mentions of the workplace study in top-tier online publications such as Business Week Online, Industry Standard, The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal Europe and USA Today, which continue to be strong coverage drivers.  In addition, coverage is document in several major metro news outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free-Press, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register.

Goal #2:  Substantially increase the quality and quantity of coverage over last year in the United States and Canada

The following chart compares 1999 and 2000 results (circulation number reflects closest estimates*):


 

1999 Placements

2000 Placements

1999 Circulation

2000 Circulation

Print

45

124

13,877,916

32,614,738

Online

8

60

951,237

5,034,929

TV

16

98

936,180

2,326,291

Radio

33

4,396

2,961,000

10,776,311

Total

102

4,678

18,726,333

50,752,269

Goal #3:  Leverage the research platform to help build Pitney Bowes’ value proposition and thought leadership in the twenty-first century

Prior to Citigate Cunningham’s involvement in publicizing the workplace messaging study, Pitney Bowes was known primarily as “the postage meter company,” despite its total messaging solutions that include a variety of electronic solutions, direct and one-to-one marketing, along with an Internet division dedicated solely to small business solutions.  As Citigate Cunningham continued to implement its strategic communications plan, the media began referring to Pitney Bowes as “a vendor of messaging technologies,” “business communication specialists,” “a United States firm specializing in messaging tools research,” “a diversified mailing equipment maker with interests in small businesses” and a “communications management firm.”  Citigate Cunningham’s efforts supported Pitney Bowes’ overall corporate efforts to position Pitney Bowes as a company that understands its evolving marketplace and is helping to develop and drive the industry.

Goal #4:  Leverage the study’s status as the most comprehensive workplace study in order to secure a top-tier print exclusive that launches the umbrella findings of the study

Interest generated from the exclusive coverage in Canada’s The Globe and Mail and USA Today were the beginning of a steady drumbeat of press coverage that would establish Pitney Bowes’ messaging research study as the most comprehensive analysis of workplace messaging practices to date.  Marketplace awareness of Pitney Bowes’ research increased dramatically as important media influencers began covering important trends such as how workers are feeling less overwhelmed by the proliferation of messaging tools and the impact that messaging tools are having on workers and work environments. Even today, Citigate Cunningham continues to be contacted by well-established and up-and-coming companies who are interested in using Pitney Bowes’ research for business development.

Goal #5:  Secure multiple top-tier print articles and a nationally syndicated article
Citigate Cunningham secured the following top-tier placements:  Business Week Online (1 placement), Industry Standard/Industry Standard Online (3 placements), USA Today (4 placements) and The Wall Street Journal/The Wall Street Journal Europe (5 placements).   Syndicated placements include Gannett News Service, King Features Syndicate and Knight Ridder Tribune Business News.    

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