Pumping Up the Volume in a Quiet Period
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Holmes Report

Pumping Up the Volume in a Quiet Period

To avoid running afoul of regulators, Requisite’s SEC lawyers took an ultra-conservative approach to the upcoming filing – so much that in the third week of the public relations campaign they restricted PR to product-focused outreach in the industry trade

Paul Holmes

  "Loose lips might sink ships" Americans were told in a World War II poster.  The meaning of the slogan was simple and clear: Do not divulge whatever information you have about ship-sailing times and destinations.  If the wrong set of ears heard the information, disaster could follow.  Thanks to Webvan Group Inc.’s much-ballyhooed full-disclosure blunders around its 1999 initial public offering (IPO), corporate legal teams handling IPOs and quiet periods were as nervous as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rockers. 
Indeed, in March 2000, Requisite Technology, Inc.’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawyers had a “sinking feeling” about public relations around the Colorado-based company’s looming IPO.  To avoid running afoul of the Securities Act of 1933, Requisite’s SEC lawyers took an ultra-conservative approach to the upcoming filing – so much that in the third week of the public relations campaign they restricted PR to product-focused outreach in the industry trade and vertical press.   This directive was particularly stinging since Week Two was spent securing CEO meetings with the following tier-one business and financial media targets: Fortune Magazine editor David Kirkpatrick, Forbes Magazine editor and bureau chief Daniel Fischer, The Wall Street Journal regional technology reporter Evan Ramstad, and BusinessWeek’s e-biz supplement editor Tim Mullaney.   Deemed off-limits by the lawyers, these meetings were subsequently cancelled.
IPO folly aside, the electronic-catalog creation and content management company had other image issues with which to grapple:

        Say What?  A general and widespread ignorance in the media about “catalog content” – that is, product and service information – and its central role in the world of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce;

        The Fine Line Between Peers and Competitors.  A pre-existing notion that “content management” always referred to Web site information (ala Vignette Corporation; BroadVision, Inc.; and Interwoven, Inc. – Wall Street winners who would crush Requisite if lumped into the same competitive set);

        Category Killing?  A rapidly consolidating market in which Requisite’s two primary catalog content competitors – Aspect Development, Inc. and Harbinger Corporation – were acquired by i2 Technologies, Inc. and Peregrine Systems, Inc., respectively, in the first three months of the PR campaign; and

        Who ‘Dat?  A fundamental lack of awareness about the seven-year-old company, Requisite.
Undeterred by its limitations, Requisite and The Weber Group team forged ahead with a focussed, 10-month plan that elevated the company’s reputation in industry circles, clearly differentiated its technology and processes from the competition, registered a year record sales and operations for the company, and provided support for its planned $92 million Wall Street debut.

TWG immediately designed an intensely focused program to accomplish the following objectives:

        Elevate the awareness of Requisite and position it as a leader and a strong investment.

        Drive sales.

PLANNING/Strategic Approach
The Weber Group and Requisite took a strategic approach to create brand and category awareness under the radar of the SEC.  To succeed, TWG outlined the following strategies:

1.      Leverage the noise of the electronic marketplace, or exchange, trend to build corporate and category profile(s).

2.      Establish and nurture broad and deep relationships with top-tier industry analyst firms to gain third-party endorsements/validation.

3.      Aggressively build a competitive profile by debating content creation “standards.”

4.      Launch a “case study-on-steroids” program by becoming the de facto public relations agency for select Requisite customers – creating another means for delivering Requisite’s competitive messages.

5.      Establish Requisite’s thought leadership through executive speaking opportunities and awards.


The PR team implemented a program to help Requisite build relationships and credibility with industry influencers:

        Promote the category … Set the stage: To introduce Requisite and communicate the importance of catalog content to the success of B2B marketplaces and e-procurement systems, the team conducted a bi-coastal tour in July 2000 -- consisting of meetings with 23 top industry reporters and analysts.

        You can’t buy what you can’t find: To deliver a clear message of technology differentiation, the team touted Requisite’s “standard” for creating and managing B2B content – focusing on the point that Requisite organizes product and service information in the same manner that the human brain organizes data.  It humanized this message by showcasing Requisite’s ontology department.

        See and be seen: The team targeted industry trade shows for networking and speaking opportunities:

-         Requisite’s first outing -- the DCI eB2B World conference in June 2000 -- resulted in a new relationship with the chairperson for top-tier trade show Comdex.  Requisite was later invited by this chairperson to speak at Spring Comdex.

-         In November 2000, Requisite held its first Customer Forum. With Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s Chuck Phillips as keynote, the conference was booked to capacity and helped secure Requisite’s leadership in the category.

        Bringing “Energy” to Case Studies: The team launched an aggressive customer program to indirectly reach those audiences deemed off limits by Requisite’s legal counsel.  Publicizing PetroCosm – an oil and gas marketplace – and others, the team reached such publications as Line 56, Venture Wire, Silicon.com, Forbes.com and CFO.  It also placed these customers in speaking engagements, such as the DCI conference, citing Requisite as a technology “solutions” provider.

In only eight months of proactive work, the campaign generated an overwhelming response: 
Industry Analyst Results:

        Conducted 49 industry analyst briefings with Forrester, AMR Research, Patricia Seybold Group, Gartner Group, IDC, META Group and others.

        Secured coverage in 18 industry analyst reports and papers, including an exclusive brief from Gartner Group.

Media Results:

        Media:  Held 59 briefings with targeted trade press.

        Secured Requisite coverage in 92 articles, including InformationWeek, InfoWorld, InternetWeek, B to B, PC Magazine, InfoWorld, eWeek, Line56 and iSource Business.

        Secured eWeek feature story regarding Requisite’s creative use of language specialists to drive its differentiated “standard” for creating and managing catalog content, entitled:  “Ontologists Give e-Biz Speech Therapy: Scientists Help B2B Channels Develop a Lingua Franca to Refer to Products.”

        Generated “When is a Water Pump NOT a Water Pump?  When it is a Circulator, Condemgator or a Bubbler, and You are Trying to Find it on a Trade Exchange -- a feature story in Supply Chain Technology News giving a head-to-head comparison of Aspect Development’s catalog creation methodology vs. Requisite’s “standard” for creating content.

        Publicity included an Internet Week cover story on Requisite’s product suite, entitled: “Tools Tackle Catalog Content: Suppliers, Buyers Struggle to Get Product Data into e-Marketplaces.”

        Other headlines took the following form: InfoWorld’s “Reformatting content for digital commerce;” Line 56’s “Catalog Rolling;” Internet Week’s “Integration Key to Survival: Most electronic marketplaces have only began melding their systems with suppliers and buyers.”
Thought Leadership Results

        Who You Know: Requisite CEO Barbara Mowry introduced Geoffrey Moore, visible pundit and author of Crossing the Chasm, at NetMarket Makers’ premiere GroundZero conference in Boston.

        Stepping Up to the Podium: Secured 12 speaking opportunities -- including Spring Comdex, Spring Internet World, Net Market Makers Ground Zero 4, Line56 Live! London, B2B Cybermediaries Workshop and B2B Bootcamp Seminar.

        And the Winner Is?!: Requisite received the Committee of 200 leadership award, Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the year nomination. Financial analyst Credit Suisse First Boston also ranked Requisite “one of five emerging companies for 2001.”
Business Results:

        Requisite posted $33.6 million in revenue in 2000, compared to $7.3 million in 1999, representing 360 percent growth.

        Requisite crushed its sales expectations in 2000.  The number of closed deals skyrocketed from less than 10 in 1999 to 93 in 2000 – an increase of more than 830 percent.

        Requisite grew from 149 to 650 employees over 2000, growing 336 percent.


It secured $30 million in strategic funding from existing venture capitalists and first-time investors SAP and Oracle.

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