Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report


Mindstorm Communications was given the opportunity to launch to both young consumers and the business community to support sales, generate Web site traffic and support partnership development.

Paul Holmes LLC was created in July 2000 as a subsidiary of Sony Electronics (SEL) and one of the first e-business initiatives in Sony’s global strategy to create new products, services and business models for the networked era.. What is eMarker? Have you ever heard a song on the radio and wanted to know the title or artist name, but the DJ never tells you? With this cool-looking, key-chained size device, you just press a button on the eMarkerÔ to “mark” your songs. Then, you use your PC to access a database that gives you the song title, the artist and the name of the CD. With a click, you can buy the CD online.

Mindstorm Communications was given the opportunity to launch to both young consumers and the business community to support sales, generate Web site traffic and support partnership development. As is the case with many Internet-based start-up companies, eMarker’s modest marketing budget created a heavy dependency on public relations. Mindstorm’s aggressive public relations campaign achieved all of the goals and objectives for, including driving 13,000 site sessions daily, increasing eMarker device unit sales (by 30%), and positioning eMarker as the “must have” music accessory by reaching more than 225 million people through print, broadcast and radio impressions.  Some key headlines include “Portable Gadget Plays ‘Name that tune,’ New York Times (1/18/01), and “Magic eMarker”Interactive Week1/18/01. The campaign results attached to this entry speak to the success of Mindstorm’s public relations activities on behalf of  


When launched its company in July 2000, their most significant challenge was to create a new market for online music bookmarking services. The first such service -- similar to eMarker -- closed after a short period of time, raising difficult questions about the ability to succeed in this marketplace. As a result, and with help from Mindstorm, eMarker quickly established brick-and-mortar partnerships as channels for selling the device to consumers. Further, as a start-up, eMarker had no clearly defined key messages, nor had they developed any collateral. Mindstorm quickly outlined messaging, created an attention-grabbing press kit with lifestyle photography and implemented an aggressive media relations campaign to dispel the negative news stories on music bookmarking services. 


Mindstorm conducted no formal research, but market data compiled by Sony was used in several strategy development meetings to formulate the PR plan. Some of the findings outlined the promising growth of this category, and music industry analysts projected that the total online music market would increase by anywhere from five to 10 percent each year. This helped to justify Mindstorm’s positioning of as a brand – and it also established a bridge to Sony’s reputation as an innovator with tremendous customer loyalty, from legacy media to cyber media.  


Overall, Mindstorm’s goal was to use public relations to help drive sales of eMarker devices, and increase revenue opportunities by influencing affiliate relationships, advertising, licensing and sales, as no traditional advertising was conducted during this period.  

Specifically, the public relations program is designed to:

  • Create awareness of eMarker and among key influencers in the music, consumer and Internet press; 
  • Create awareness of among radio listeners, especially targeting teenagers and young adults, who are the demographic most likely to use interactive, Internet-based music products and services; 
  • Position eMarker as the hip, “must-have” accessory among target audiences; 
  • Stimulate user traffic and log-ins at 


One of the first tactics Mindstorm implemented on behalf of eMarker was to conduct an extensive media-training seminar for eMarker’s CEO and Communications Director.  This prepared the executive team to clearly outline key messages, and to deliver a compelling and consistent eMarker story to the media.

The awareness and launch campaign implemented by Mindstorm Communications included the following activities:

  • Introduced company and service at Jupiter’s PLUGIN trade show with media, analysts and online music enthusiasts. 
  • Created lifestyle photography for press kit and developed press kit materials including backgrounder, executive biographies, FAQ’s and specifications grid. 
  • Developed, planned and coordinated all logistics for a September kick-off launch party in San Francisco for LLC employees and partners at a local alternative music-mixed cocktail lounge.  Key local media, Gavin tradeshow attendees and partners attended the event. 
  • Participated in the development of an audio news release for a national radio story featuring three sound bytes from the CEO to coincide the week of the company kick-off launch party. 
  • Media relations campaign over a six month period included news releases on the product launch, 411 College Tour across the U.S., retail agreements and IT specification upgrades.  
  • Grassroots support of ESPN’s XGames in San Francisco. 
  • Holiday Campaign implemented over five months included media relations and partnerships with Sony’s Holiday 2000 Web site, a national broadcast media tour with talent Rommie Davis and long-lead publication outreach. 
  • Trade show support included National Association of Broadcast Radio Show in San Francisco, COMDEX 2000 in Las Vegas and Consumer Electronics Show 2001 in Las Vegas.


Media coverage of over the past six months has been outstanding, resulting in approximately 225 million impressions from print media; 4.4 million radio impressions and 14 million broadcast household impressions.   Holiday coverage of the eMarker generated more than 12 million print impressions over a four-month period.  Key headlines include: “Music Maker” Adweek, 8/7/00, “Keychain Music” 9/8/00, “Bridging Media Worlds at the Push of a Button” 9/11/00, “Santa Goes Surfin” New York Post, 11/30/00, “Born to be Wired” Twist 1/01

“ DJ on demand” Sony Style 3/01.  

The Audio News Release garnered more than 4.4 million impressions, including three national radio networks (USA Radio, Metro Source, and CNET).  

With no traditional advertising for in place, sales are primarily driven through PR efforts.  Sales of the device during this time exceeded expectations by 30 percent; eMarker was one of the Top 10 selling electronics on for almost two months prior to the holidays.

Extensive media coverage over the past six months includes the following highlights, The New York Times “Circuits” section, InStyle, Newsweek eLife, Time Digital and Rolling Stone
Broadcast coverage includes national network highlights on ABC’s “The View”, CNN “Today” and CBS “Up to the Minute.”  Additionally, more than 50 regional broadcast hits were featured in the top 20 DMAs, including: WNBC-TV Los Angeles, ABC News Philadelphia and KCPQ-TV Seattle.

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