Launch of a Consumer “Infomediary”
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO Launch of a Consumer “Infomediary”

. PlanetFeedback not only had to contend with well-entrenched players such as and, but also had to create a climate for providing both positive and negative feedback.

Paul Holmes

A free consumer infomediary, is a leading online community designed to use the power of the Internet to turbocharge consumers’ ability to make their voices heard.’s user-friendly letter-writing utility streamlines the process for consumers to forward feedback (complaints, compliments, questions, and suggestions) directly to companies.
Based in Cincinnati, Planet Feedback was launched in February 2000 and is committed to being the Internet economy’s most effective and efficient channel for helping consumers get more value and satisfaction from the products and services they purchase.
The number of Websites targeting or designed by disgruntled consumers were rapidly mushrooming in late 1999. These and a few other third party online forums were limited to capturing consumer complaints. PlanetFeedback not only had to contend with well-entrenched players such as and (later known as, but also had to create a climate for providing both positive and negative feedback.
  • was not first to market in its space
  • Perceived lack of interest in sending positive feedback
  • Skepticism about effective feedback resulting in desired outcome
  • Brand building during the launch timeframe was to be accomplished solely through public relations activity, without support from paid advertising or traditional DM
  •’s stringent privacy policies, resulting in difficulties with regard to connecting reporters with referenceable end-users
To launch a new, Internet-based consumer opinion utility,, and establish it as the top-of-the-mind service for consumers to send their feedback directly to companies
Planning and preparation for the launch campaign commenced in late November 1999. A two-pronged approach aimed at consumers, and influencers was adopted.
  • Pre-launch company name and business model prior to site launch, focusing on business and Internet press
  • Conduct extensive interim analyst briefings between pre-launch and site launch
  • Collaborate with existing consumer advocacy organizations
  • Extensive consumer media relations to support site launch
  • Stage investor meetings immediately following launch media push for maximum impact
  • Position PlanetFeedback’s CEO Pete Blackshaw as a thought leader in the consumer feedback, and viral marketing space
  • Media relations program, including a VNR to announce the launch of the utility
  • Briefings with key analysts
  • Thought leader speaking opportunities for Pete Blackshaw
  • Events to launch service in nationally and locally
Measures used to evaluate the success of the program included both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative measures included number of unique stories and markets, impressions generated, and Web site traffic. The effectiveness of the program was analyzed using qualitative measures such as the reputation enjoyed by the forum/speaking opportunity, the residual impact of analyst briefings, etc.
Local launch event in Cincinnati, and national launch event in Washington, DC resulted in wide-spread awareness, including a media story during prime time on NPR’s “Morning Edition” national broadcast (2/28/00).
Print media coverage generated 4,525,002 impressions during this campaign. Also, the efforts resulted in unique stories in top-tier publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Advertising Age, and Wired, among many others.
Broadcast media coverage generated 45 unique stories in 25 major metropolitan markets throughout the U.S., resulting in more than 4.7 million impressions. Also, the VNR was the basis for two major national placements, Bloomberg Business News (3/2/00) and CNNfn’s “Entrepreneurs Only” segment (3/3/00).
In the absence of paid advertising or other marketing communications channels, media coverage correlated with higher site traffic for PlanetFeedback among companies in its competitive set (eComplaints,, By August 2000 PlanetFeedback was receiving 2.5 to five times the unique visitors of its competitors.
The analyst tour, including briefings with key analysts from Forrester Research, Jupiter Communications, The Delphi Group, and the Aberdeen Group resulted in a much higher profile for PlanetFeedback in its competitive set and was partly responsible for increased buzz leading to critical second round venture funding in April 2000.
Speaking opportunities for PlanetFeedback founder and CEO Pete Blackshaw at leading forums, including @dTech, TheConference Board’s May 2000 forum, Futurize West, Jupiter Online Consumer Forum and others.
Although was not one of the first to market in its space, it continues to be one of the very few comprehensive online forums that has enabled consumers to send both positive and negative feedback. The launch campaign not only achieved all the tactical objectives, but also most importantly was successful in enabling to capture the perception of critical “first mover advantage” among consumers and Internet insiders.
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