To support this vision, in February of 2001, Qwest introduced a new product in 13 different markets—Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico—to give Caller ID users even more control over incoming phone calls. Designed to virtually eliminate unidentified calls, Security Screen intercepts all calls from blocked and unidentified numbers and requires anonymous callers to supply their phone number or a numeric code before their call can be completed. Unidentified callers also hear a message telling them to hang up if they are a solicitor.
Schenkein was charged with implementing a proactive, aggressive media relations strategy to support the launch of Qwest’s Security Screen product and drive sales through product publicity. We stepped up to the challenge by creating a plan to generate a consistent and sustained base of media coverage that would increase awareness and drive sales of the product.
We began by researching privacy trends among consumers to add trend data and interesting “factoids” to our pitching efforts. Through research, we identified that 90 percent of Americans rank privacy as one of their top concerns and that the average household receives 17 telemarketing calls per month, with many of these calls showing up as “unidentified” on Caller ID. Next, we researched the media in each market nationwide and selected specific reporters who had covered privacy issues in the past or who reported on consumer trends. We also analyzed existing Qwest research which demonstrated the demand for such a product, showing that approximately one out of 10 calls received by current Caller ID users currently shows up on their Caller ID units as “Private” or “Unknown,” which is a major source of frustration for consumers. These insights helped fuel our media relations efforts, providing the fact-based data needed to solicit media interest.
Our effort to promote this new product for Qwest was part of an overall, comprehensive public relations plan designed to meet Qwest’s business goals. We complemented a strategic planning session with additional planning meetings with Security Screen product managers to fully understand the product and develop an effective media relations approach. In addition, our timeline for the Security Screen launch was strategically created to prevent any conflicts with other Qwest launches or rollouts. Our program consisted of developing all media materials for distribution to targeted media and conducting all proactive media relations efforts surrounding the launch. We set forth to achieve the following objectives:
Generate 52 media placements (four in each market) totaling approximately 10 million media impressions.
Drive 350 sales within a week of launching PR efforts via product publicity and media relations.
Drive 1,000 calls to the toll-free number established to track results and sales driven specifically by media relations. Ensure at least 75 percent of total calls to lead to sales.
Ensure quality as well as quantity of media hits by generating at least one key message in 75 percent of media placements and two or more key messages in 50 percent of placements.
Exceed dollar value of public relations efforts compared to that of advertising.
STRATEGIC APPROACH/CAMPAIGN EXECUTION:
Identified and packaged an arsenal of interesting information about privacy trends to demonstrate why Security Screen is ideal for people who want to cut down on the number of undesirable calls they receive. From this, developed a fact sheet including information about how one out of 10 calls show up on Caller ID as “Private” or “Unavailable” and the fact that many of these are from telemarketers.
To aid media’s understanding of how the product actually worked, we also developed a graphic that demonstrated what customers would see when receiving an anonymous or blocked call. Using standard Caller ID as a comparison, we showed an anonymous call as it would appear on two Caller ID screens – one with and another without the Security Screen upgrade. Doing so allowed media and audiences to understand how previously unavailable caller information would now be automatically provided and easily viewed by a Security Screen customer.
Developed a news release for distribution to major dailies, TV, news radio stations, business journals, weeklies and community papers in Qwest’s designated launch markets.
Created a fact sheet that provided an overview of “How it Works,” educating and portraying the value of Security Screen to Qwest Caller ID customers.
Produced a Video News Release showing a Qwest customer using the product to demonstrate the direct benefit provided by the product: increased privacy and more, uninterrupted quality family time. Scripted the VNR and oversaw shooting and editing to ensure inclusion of “man on the street” sound bites from consumers nationwide expressing frustration with telemarketers and touting the need for such a product. The VNR provided a compelling visual to entice broadcast coverage and greatly enhanced pickup.
Refined key messages to ensure campaign achieved not only quantity but also quality placements. These messages were included in all pitch letters and media materials to promote the value of Security Screen.
Determined Qwest spokespeople available for comment on Security Screen and conducted one-on-one training sessions and reviewed all talking points to ensure effective communication of Security Screen messaging.
Targeted major dailies, TV, news radio stations, business journals, weeklies and community papers in Qwest’s designated local markets to reach out and inform consumers of Qwest’s newest Privacy Product.
Conducted pitch calls and follow up to these targeted reporters, coordinating interviews with a Qwest spokesperson.
After the delivery of media materials, followed up via email to Tier I and Tier II targets. Provided the business journals with an advance pitch to accommodate their deadlines.
In order to target the smaller media outlets and complement our proactive outreach to major markets, developed a controlled copy release for distribution via NAPS.
To ensure that the PR campaign could drive sales and contribute to Qwest’s bottom line, we established a toll-free number to be used exclusively in public relations communications. This would allow us to track calls and resulting sales that were a direct result of our media efforts.
Our media relations campaign supporting the launch of Qwest Security Screen was a huge success. We not only surpassed all our original goals and objectives, but we also exceeded sales driven by all other marketing/ communications efforts combined.
Media relations efforts surpassed the overall PR sales volume objective by 267% and were instrumental in driving sales prior to launch of direct mail and advertising.
Generated 77 media placements totaling more than 50 million media impressions, including 19 radio placements, 15 television placements and 43 print placements. Exceeded objective by more than 60 percent.
Generated a total of 2,309 calls, more than doubling our objective, to the dedicated 800 number tracing results, 1,293 of which resulted in a sale (an 81.93 percent order conversion).
Secured one key message in 100 percent of media placements, exceeding our objective by 25 percent and two or more key messages in 78 percent of media placements, exceeding our original objective by 28 percent.
Achieved a real PR dollar value of $141,173.20 making the cost per impression $.005, or a half of penny.
Security Screen was our first product launch for Qwest, and the client was extremely pleased with our results. Our success enabled us to “hit a home run” with this important new client and led our main client contact to say, “We were ecstatic when the very first campaign Schenkein supported surpassed its sales goal in the first week. Schenkein is accountable and places emphasis on concrete objectives that measure both quantity and quality.”