From Blizzards to Black-Suited Vikings with Oz.com
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From Blizzards to Black-Suited Vikings with Oz.com

In the early winter months of 2000, Text 100 set out on an adventure to Iceland to uncover the mystery around its newest client, OZ.COM.

Paul Holmes

In the early winter months of 2000, Text 100 set out on an adventure to Iceland to uncover the mystery around its newest client, OZ.COM. A three-day intensive messaging workshop followed, giving Text 100 the opportunity to help OZ.COM define its messaging, brand the company, name the service and influence the logo, advertising and marketing collateral. Text 100 identified numerous PR opportunities along with some significant obstacles. The wireless sector was only just gaining mainstream attention and Text 100 had to move quickly to get OZ.COM mind share with key influencers. There was a brief window of opportunity to position OZ.COM as a revolutionary wireless company from Scandinavia before market saturation made the target audience cynical.  Text 100 seized this opportunity, rushed forward and achieved results worthy of their Viking client.
 
Text 100 identified huge opportunities including:
  • Scandinavian founding provided immediate credibility. This region is renowned for leading the wireless revolution and is far ahead of the rest of the world with adoption and technology.
  • A comprehensive wireless service targeted specifically at wireless service providers (WSPs) and telecommunications operators (telcos), ensured a business focus that Text 100 could reflect.
  • An executive team of young, brilliant, passionate and personable spokespeople with significant industry knowledge across EMEA, APAC and the Americas, making them a valuable information source for influencers getting up to speed on this space – especially important in the U.S.
  • A great story, a long history in technology and a clear business focus.
 

CHALLENGES

 
OZ.COM’s service, mPresence, would not be available until Fall 2000 and the company founders were determined to announce the service in March 2000 at CTIA, New Orleans
 
The platform upon which mPresence is based, iPulse, was co-developed with Ericsson. OZ.COM, positioned as a reseller of this technology, therefore did not have a technology story in its own right
 
OZ.COM did not have any customers and the iPulse pilots in place were Ericsson customers, therefore if the media needed validation, this would not be available until the end of 2000
 
Text 100 focused on potential partner activities that were delayed and delayed again. The news is still due to be issued; however, the delay meant Text 100 was not able to focus on the pro-active as much as was necessary. That said, the momentum Text 100 achieved in the early days assured that OZ.COM was still on the radar of the key media even if Text 100 had reduced contact and information
 
Ericsson partnership means that any release to be issued by OZ.COM must go through the approval cycle of a large public company. This partnership gives OZ.COM great credibility, however it also slows down our process, making it difficult to be fast and flexible in press outreach
 
Unpredictable blizzards that left two Boston account directors stranded in a taxi on the side of the road for nine hours! If we didn’t get out, mPresence would have been lost!
 
RESEARCH
 
The development of terms and phrases in the messaging workshop to more clearly explain OZ.COM’s positioning. In our research, Text 100 found that terms such as m-business, m-business enabler, etc., had not appeared in any coverage nor were they being used by analyst groups. M-commerce had made its debut but the “m” revolution had not significantly taken off. Therefore, Text 100 would not know until the terms were used if they would work with the target audiences.
 
A meeting with Jeff Pulver of Pulver.com, an analyst very close to OZ.COM, provided a third hand perspective on the challenges OZ.COM faced. It is a unique opportunity to have an analyst understand the company in such detail up front. His feedback on the challenges and opportunities were invaluable as has been his endorsement.
 
Competitive research showed companies like Phone.com were well ahead of OZ.COM in PR activity. This research provided enormous value as the competitors had tested the market, but Text 100 also saw an immaturity in the market and once again, recognized the small window of opportunity at hand to establish OZ.COM as a significant player in the m-business revolution.
 
PLANNING
 
Following the messaging workshop in Iceland, Text 100 knew that a company launch had to happen quickly as they were booked to attend CTIA and the founders were adamant that the OZ.COM and mPresence launch must happen. Time was of the essence if they were to make the impact they needed. A short-term program was defined along with a momentum campaign to ensure that OZ.COM communicated its mPresence announcement fully and that OZ.COM was kept alive in the minds of the key media and analysts. Creativity was key since there would be very little news for the first six months.
 
OBJECTIVES
 
The principle objective of the program was to educate and excite key influencers ensuring that OZ.COM was front of mind as a key player in the wireless revolution.  Supporting PR objectives included:
  • Educate press and analysts that OZ.COM is set to revolutionize the emerging m-business sector
  • Position OZ.COM as a major player in the mobile Internet Communications market in the US
  • Communicate OZ.COM’s relationship with Ericsson, the partnership strategy, in addition to OZ.COM’s plans to move forward independently
  • Communicate the strategy behind mPresence and OZ.COM’s marketing strategy
 

Audience

  • WSPs and Telcos: OZ.COM’s No. 1 business target
  • Analysts covering the wireless space and wireless editors
  • Technology trade: covering the wireless story as momentum around the industry increased
  • Business media: covering the issues around wireless as it gained further business momentum
  • Mainstream media: ensuring OZ.COM’s inclusion in coverage hitting the business consumer audience
 

STRATEGY

 
  • Defined initial activity- Prior to CTIA
  • Text 100 was tasked with the creation of all documentation for press packs within two weeks. Activity included corporate and mPresence backgrounder, fact sheet, boilerplate, corporate and service positioning, Q&A with Ericsson, and the mPresence press release.
  • Launch mPresence at CTIA, New Orleans, March 2000.
  • Issue press release to all identified press and analyst contacts with no pre-briefing time allocated.
 
Momentum campaign
 
With the initial launch off the ground, which achieved strong “stickiness” for the new messaging and positive feedback during briefings and in coverage about the mPresence offering, it was now time to keep the momentum going. Text 100 had to further communicate OZ.COM’s objectives in the U.S. market, namely to reach WSPs and Telcos and to make OZ.COM a name synonymous with the wireless revolution. If there was a wireless article relevant to its space, OZ.COM had to be included. The campaign that followed is still in place today, with the following objectives:
  • To be constantly pro-active with media by providing new ideas/angles for them to write about
  • To be educational in all outreach to press and analysts
  • Utilize any news potential in the most appropriate manner in the absence of partner or customer wins
  • Aggressively target speaking opportunities to position OZ.COM spokespeople as industry experts
 

EXECUTION/TACTICS

 
Analyst influence: A four-city tour with OZ.COM in April to reach the key analysts in the U.S. market.
 
Media outreach (a key success factor in this campaign): Text 100 aggressively targeted media for forthcoming wireless articles. Tactics included: on-going educational media outreach; local press outreach; creative positioning around issues such as presence management; responding to articles covering specific issues and giving OZ.COM’s positioning to increase mind share. 
 
Press release activity: Identification of news potential within OZ.COM including office opening releases, appointment releases, the chess game on top of an Icelandic Glacier using iPulse. These activities were initiated to support the momentum program and not identified as real news opportunities.
 
EVALUATION
 
The OZ.COM PR campaign has been a successful one. The coverage, both in the business press and the wireless press, achieved the principal objectives of strategically positioning OZ.COM in the US market and of educating and exciting the influencers. Media hits significantly covered mPresence and its related product offerings/potential and/or target audiences (Telcos and WSPs), along with overviews of OZ.COM spokespeople.  Examples of headlines include: “OZ.COM roles out mPresence at CTIA”; “OZ.COM plans big splash in U.S. messaging market” and “First, there’s e-commerce, now there’s m-commerce”. Jeff Pulver continues to be a big supporter of OZ.COM and Text 100 has quoted Jeff in the mPresence launch release, had OZ.COM spokespeople speak at Pulver.com shows and contribute monthly comments to his newsletter, the Pulver Report.
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