HP's Internet Enabled Fall Product Tour
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Holmes Report

HP's Internet Enabled Fall Product Tour

With a new CEO, HP was faced with drastic internal changes in strategies and directives. In addition to supporting new company initiatives, the NA IPS division needed to garner press coverage for its new products.

Paul Holmes

HP’s North American Imaging and Printing Solutions (NA IPS) division faced several unique situations in the launch of three new printers in the Fall/Winter 2000 time frame.  With a new CEO, HP was faced with drastic internal changes in strategies and directives.  In addition to supporting new company initiatives, the NA IPS division needed to support divisional initiatives and garner press coverage for its new products.  Recent experience has shown that journalists and analysts are more interested in products that can be positioned as examples of the successful execution of a broader corporate strategy.  As these influencers are bombarded with information and demands for their mindshare, they require context.  In other words, Hp’s NA IPS was faced with “connect the dots” for these targets to help them understand what HP is striving to accomplish with imaging and printing. 
HP’s NA IPS division tied the three printers together into one launch with overarching messaging to meet corporate and divisional objectives.  After touring three cities with the new lineup, HP was able to meet all its objectives  -- including 100% coverage of key messaging and award winning reviews and news coverage in top tier publications.
Over the past 18 months, HP has undergone a “reinvention” of its business model.  This includes positioning HP as a leading e-company and introducing company-wide initiatives.  Divisions have been charged with not only furthering their own initiatives, but reinforcing company messaging in communications.  HP North American Printing and Imaging Solutions division faced the following obstacles:
  • Positioning itself as a “forward thinking” division
  • HP’s goal of becoming a leading e-company hinges upon presenting a unified image to customers and the media.  Previously, product launches were very focused on tech specs, or “speeds and feeds.”  The new corporate structure dictated that in order to succeed, divisions must integrate overarching, unified messaging into new product launches.
  • Integrate company-wide initiatives with divisional initiatives in a clear manner
  • With the corporate push to integrate higher level messaging and divisional initiatives to support, there were numerous messaging points to incorporate into press materials.  Presenting messaging without sacrificing the positioning of each product was essential in the Fall product launch.
  • Generate excitement over products that were upgrades of pre-existing products
  • While the fall products offered enhanced features, they nonetheless were upgrades to pre-existing products.  Creating excitement and generating press coverage surrounding the fall products with reporters on the printer beat became a challenge.
Earlier in the year, HP announced its printing e-services initiative.  CEO Carly Fiorina stated that, “Printers will be defined by the services they deliver, not just by how fast they print. HP is pursuing the Internet printing and imaging market holistically through the invention of brand-new services and appliances, along with the infrastructure required to make it all work.” In order to support the initiative, HP examined the feature sets of each printer and identified a key feature from each printer that leveraged the power of the Internet.  A news search was conducted to determine how much coverage had been given by trade publications to Internet capabilities in competitive products.  HP realized that Internet-based printer features had not been extensively reported on the past and therefore represented a fresh news angle to pursue with it’s printers. 
HP identified the following objectives:
  • Leverage the printer’s launch to reinforce HP’s position as a leading e-company
  • With the new corporate identity, HP wanted to reinforce Internet-based solutions available from the company.
  • Promote higher level messaging from HP corporate and NA IPS

NA IPS adopted the “Printing e-Services” to support, in addition to the division’s:

  • “Color in the Office” initiative to drive the use of color printing in offices
  • “Teleworking” initiative to support the benefits to employees and employers of telecommuting
  • “MFP (multifunction peripherals)” initiative to underlining the value of printing, copying, scanning and faxing, all with one device
  • Generate product news coverage and standalone reviews
  • Garner news and reviews coverage to further support HP’s leadership as well as quality and reliability. 
  • Influence key publications review processes
  • Use HP’s leadship role and the introduction of Internet enabled functions to drive the adoption of reviews criteria for Internet capabilities.
The three launching products, the HP LaserJet 3200, HP Color LaserJet 4550 and the HP LaserJet 8150, were positioned as HP’s fall lineup and incorporated into a three-city long lead media tour targeting key reviewers and journalists.  An overarching theme was applied to the printers to tie them together as “HP’s first generation of Internet-enabled appliances.”  HP identified key “Internet-enabled” functions in each printer and leveraged them as proof points to demonstrate HP’s e-company focus and commitment to delivering printer e-services solutions.  In addition to umbrella Internet messaging, each product was mapped to a key corporate initiative – the LaserJet 3200 was tied to teleworking, the LaserJet 4550 was positioned as an example of color in the office and the LaserJet 8150’s expandability was utilized to reinforce the MFP initiative. 
The HP North American Imaging and Printing Fall tour exceeded expectations in meeting its outlined objectives.  These successes include:
  • 100% of all press coverage included Internet messaging from HP – reinforcing HP’s e-company and leadership positioning. 
  • Since the launch, over 41 review unit requests were made by top tier trade publications such as PC Magazine, PC World, Smart Business, CRN and CNET. The printers were honored with five awards ranging from “Editor’s Choice” to “Value” awards. 
  • The fall products received over 60 news hits in top tier publications such as CNET, Dow Jones News Service, IDG News Service and Investors Business Day
  • With the introduction of HP’s new Internet-enabled capabilities, journalists queried HP during the tour on how to evaluate the new features. 
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