As a result of fierce competition between Qwest and cable companies for customers of high-speed Internet access, Qwest sought to differentiate itself from its competitors to increase its DSL sales and build customer loyalty. In coordination with ongoing advertising and public relations efforts, JohnstonWells Public Relations helped Qwest develop the Incredible Internet Guy program with the goals of helping consumers make more effective use of the Internet and to promote Qwest¡¯s high-speed Internet service.
The Incredible Internet Guy has helped thousands of people across the country get the most from the Internet by regularly featuring sites to enhance their everyday lives. The program represented a multifaceted approach that involved securing partnerships with the highest rated television stations in key Qwest markets and the creation of a website that would provide compelling information on current topics and links to related websites.
The Internet is full of useful websites, but most people don¡¯t have the time or patience to seek them out. As Qwest sought to expand the user base for its high-speed Internet service, JohnstonWells recognized a public relations opportunity to communicate Qwest¡¯s commitment to helping consumers use the Internet more efficiently and safely.
To get the word out to Qwest¡¯s 14-market region, JohnstonWells took the Incredible Internet Guy beyond the role of spokesperson, positioning him and Qwest as advocates for educating consumers through an integrated program of promotional activities. By helping people use the Internet more effectively, Qwest was able to highlight its high-speed DSL Internet service as a way to further enhance a person¡¯s Internet experience.
Based on information gathered by Forrester Research, which identified the most Internet savvy or ¡°wired¡± cities in its 14-state region, Qwest developed a strategy to approach its top wired markets in 2004 where the company offered DSL service.
The program tapped Ken Leebow, author of the popular 300 Incredible Things to Do on the Internet series, to fill the role of the Incredible Internet Guy. JohnstonWells, working with Qwest and partners FCBi and Rockford Gray, developed the following objectives for the Incredible Internet Guy program:
¡Æ Create an easily navigable website at www.incredibleinternetguy.com ¨C a simple and effective resource that would provide visitors with useful information to find the best sites on the Internet based around relevant weekly topics.
¡Æ Develop partnerships with the region¡¯s leading television stations and establish prominently placed, eye-catching links from each station¡¯s website to the Incredible Internet Guy website.
¡Æ Produce weekly Incredible Internet Guy television segments that would raise the visibility of the program and drive traffic to the website.
¡Æ Use the Incredible Internet Guy program to raise awareness of Qwest DSL high-speed Internet service through a website design that aligns with the Qwest brand and also includes accessible information about the benefits of broadband and the value of Qwest¡¯s DSL service.
¡Æ Drive one million visitors to incredibleinternetguy.com by June 30, 2004 using the weekly segments on the news casts and the news station¡¯s websites.
In order to garner awareness of the website, JohnstonWells created a program called the Wonders of the Web (WOW) Tours. Each WOW Tour took Leebow to a different Qwest market and put him in community events, elementary schools, museums, state fairs, live media appearances and other existing events. Leebow prepared and presented catered presentations for each audience, advocating effective use of the Internet including Internet security.
The other method used to drive the public to the website was a ¡°click-through¡± process JohnstonWells coordinated with each partner television station. Leebow appeared weekly on television segments and directed viewers to the television station¡¯s website, which linked directly to the Incredible Internet Guy website via a prominent icon. From there, clickable ads connected consumers to Qwest¡¯s DSL website for more information. The click-through scheme presented a win-win situation for the TV stations and Qwest.
As the Incredible Internet Guy, Leebow toured Qwest¡¯s market cities and conducted live television interviews, presentations and seminars for the public. His presentations range from educational to recreational in nature and cover topics such as spyware, online banking and travel. The website at incredibleinternetguy.com has provided consumers with tips on how to navigate the Web more efficiently, as well as weekly updated introductions to informative websites based on relevant topics, such as family vacations, home improvement, blogs and obtaining scholarships online.
From January to November 2004, JohnstonWells accompanied the Incredible Internet Guy to Qwest markets. Detailed below are the events that gave Leebow opportunities to interact with existing Qwest DSL customers and potential new DSL customers: traveled to 11 markets (more than half of which were visited more than once), coordinated 18 live media appearances, attended ten different elementary schools in Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, including parent teacher conferences.
The program presented four employee seminars to Qwest employees, attended eight retail and existing events at science museums, botanical gardens and state fairs and distributed nearly 40,000 tip cards that drove people to Qwest¡¯s website, as well as websites of partnering stations.
The public relations outreach in 2004 served to bring the Incredible Internet Guy program into the homes and businesses of millions of consumers in Qwest¡¯s key markets. From January to September, viewer impressions of Incredible Internet Guy television segments totaled 9,492,000. And there were 2.4 million total website hits to www.incredibleinternetguy.com, a direct result of the WOW Tour visits to Qwest markets and the segments that ran on the partnering stations in each market. The results represent incredible exposure for Qwest¡¯s DSL service among its target audiences.