Citigate Cunningham was presented with a unique set of challenges that could have only been overcome through an unwavering commitment to delivering world-class client service. The primary challenge of launching an Alliance of this nature was gaining the respect of 14 different companies and achieving consensus among 50+ individuals. In order to do this, Citigate Cunningham had to play the part of the United Nations. With each country (aka Alliance member) having their own agendas, government bodies and national anthems, it was imperative that Citigate Cunningham remain neutral and stay focused on the vision and mission of the Alliance.
The first step was to develop a positioning platform (series of messages that positioned the Alliance within the home technology industry) that everyone could agree to. This meant including each member company in the positioning process by conducting multiple Alliance member interviews, analyzing the industry landscape and delivering a series of messaging that communicated the Alliance’s strategy and positioned them to succeed in this fragmented industry. By involving everyone in the process, Citigate Cunningham ensured that everyone involved had a voice and was heard. When presented in person by a Citigate Cunningham team member to 50+ corporate vice presidents and general managers, consensus was achieved in less than two hours.
The second step was to deliver a launch strategy everyone could agree to. This meant understanding the emotional, political and business pressures each member company faced. Citigate Cunningham presented the Alliance with a series of scenarios and their associated risks. Once an understanding of the decision process established, Citigate Cunningham provided their launch recommendation and again, consensus was achieved within a few hours.
Citigate Cunningham continued to involve the Alliance members throughout the public relations process (press kit material development, speaking opportunities, presentation development, interview opportunities, etc.) and as a result was able to meet the needs of each Alliance member as well as achieve the overall goals of the Alliance.
The PR objectives of the launch were to:
- Establish industry and consumer awareness of Internet Home Alliance by building awareness among key influencers
- Educate the industry as well as consumers on the value of Internet lifestyle solutions
The Citigate Cunningham team understood how important a successful launch was to the long-term success of Internet Home Alliance. Given the Alliance’s position during the time of launch, Citigate Cunningham recommended that the Alliance focus on communicating to the industry first. This focus helped the Alliance meet their business objectives — recruit new members and gain industry credibility. Once the Alliance establishes themselves in the industry, Citigate Cunningham would then launch the news to the consumer audience.
In order to be successful with the strategy stated above, it was important to have two sets of messages: one for the industry and one for the consumer. This prepared the Alliance and Citigate Cunningham to address questions regarding the industry while offering insight on the impact on consumers’ lives. Currently, the home technology market is faced with the following issues: market fragmentation, consumer and industry confusion, and availability and complexity of home technology solutions. Industry experts believe that these issues need to be addressed before mass adoption by consumers can take place. Members within the Alliance agreed that they would work with industry associations and ecosystem partners to further enable the creation, distribution and adoption of Internet solutions that would eventually add value to consumers’ lives.
Upon approval and agreement of all of the strategies, plans and materials, the Citigate Cunningham team worked together to reach out and inform the media about the launch of Internet Home Alliance. Citigate Cunningham deployed a targeted media relations launch to effectively introduce Internet Home Alliance to key industry press. However, Citigate Cunningham was presented with a major media relations challenge. Since the launch was highly confidential, Citigate Cunningham could not reveal the names of the Alliance members prior to the announcement. Another major challenge the Citigate Cunningham team faced was organizing several spokespeople’s schedules in order to secure meetings with the media. It was extremely important for the Citigate Cunningham team to remain in constant communication with all Alliance members to discuss and secure media opportunities and provide 1:1 media coaching for each meeting with the media. The Citigate Cunningham team spent countless hours compiling a 250 page briefing book that contained press materials and briefing materials for each meeting with the media, highlighting the media’s “hot buttons” and Alliance key messages. The caliber of meetings that were secured prior to the launch, the interest garnered from the industry and the 200+ people who attended the launch event in San Francisco demonstrated for the Alliance members the dedication the Citigate Cunningham team had put forth in order to achieve a successful launch.
Citigate Cunningham exceeded expectations by securing 100+ media hits at the time of launch in major publications including Associated Press, Bloomberg, c|net, CBS MarketWatch online, CNN.com, Chicago Tribune, GartnerGroup, IDG News Service, Wall Street Journal and many more. As a result of the launch, Citigate Cunningham secured a year-long contract with Internet Home Alliance and PR interest from several Alliance member companies. In fact, one month after the launch, Sears, Roebuck and Co. hired Citigate Cunningham to support several technology initiatives company-wide.
Following are a couple statements about the launch from Alliance member executives:
“You all are doing a tremendous job coordinating all us folks. If 14 members weren’t bad enough, I’m guessing you’re getting 4-5 folks from each company coming at you with thoughts, ideas, changes, etc. You and your Cunningham staff deserve a great deal of credit for the huge amount of work that you’ve done and done well in such a short time.” – Senior Marketing Manager, Motorola
“I’m not sure any of us can thank you enough for all your hard work. We will all benefit from the energy and efficiency you and your team have shown in launching this project. You are inspiring to watch!!” – Public Relations Director, CompUSA