Raising the Curtain on ACT II
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Raising the Curtain on ACT II

When Citrix Systems surprised the software industry in early 2001 with a corporate acquisition that expanded its market share and flew straight in the face of a struggling economy, Greenough Communications immediately took on the role of ring-master.

Paul Holmes

When Citrix Systems surprised the software industry in early 2001 with a corporate acquisition that significantly expanded its market share ambitions and flew straight in the face of a struggling economy, Greenough Communications immediately took on the role of ring-master – orchestrating a complex corporate and product repositioning campaign with media and industry analyst audiences.  The goal: within nine months, establish Citrix’s position as a strong, focused Business Access software leader with the addition of an award-winning portal products company, Sequoia Software (Nasdaq: SQSW), and firmly set the stage for raising the curtain on “Act II” of the company’s mission at the annual Citrix iForum customer event.
Beginning with the announcement in March that Citrix would make its largest acquisition ever – an $185 million all cash purchase of portal server maker Sequoia Software – Greenough Communications immediately began increasing Citrix’s visibility to key influencers in the portal software and access technology space by clearly communicating the company’s business and product strategies, and elevating Citrix to a higher level of market mind share. 
The Greenough team achieved the goal and surpassed it, educating top business and financial media, information technology trade press, and key industry analysts, about the company’s renewed product direction and vision for Virtual Information Access through aggressive news and proactive media outreach, customer stories placement, influencer tours and interactive Webcasts.  The success of the campaign reached critical mass at Citrix’s iForum user conference in October, when over 80 media and 30 analysts worldwide attended the event in Orlando and another 100+ via the Greenough-produced interactive Webcast.  Citrix president and CEO Mark Templeton graced the cover of Citrix’s top U.S. technology channel publication, CRN, and an extensive Q&A and feature article about him and the company’s new direction appeared within the magazine to compound the win.
Our Opportunity
Citrix had ruled the application serving software market for over a decade, but needed to expand its ambitions in order to convince the world that it would be around for the next ten.  With its flagship software product (MetaFrame) maturing, and in light of a growing perception that MetaFrame could eventually be rendered obsolete in a more Web-centric world, this was “make or break” time.  Citrix acted decisively and aggressively – declaring the acquisition a calculated move into the increasingly noisy Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) space. 
Greenough needed to act equally as quickly to blanket the media with the news, elevating the company’s awareness by a factor of 10.  Our challenge, simply stated, was to raise awareness for the company as being more than just a behind-the-scenes application serving software provider, but a serious player in the Web-based information access market – a company poised to leverage its extensive customer base and technological track record to generate new sources of revenue. 
With the desired end in mind, the PR team set about the task of educating a whole new set of media and analyst influencers – audiences Citrix had never touched before – and proving the validity and viability of Citrix in the new Web-centric world to customers, partners and investors.  We needed to re-brand Citrix’s corporate and product image as a serious portal player, without alienating its core constituencies who were questioning whether the acquisition would breathe new life into the company’s future or send it down the wrong path. 
Compounding this challenge was the lack of a viable portal software product that could be touted as the future and validate Citrix’s technological strength in the portal space.  In short, Greenough needed to build visibility for Citrix as a portal player despite the lack of a concrete product and aggressively launch its new phase of growth to an anxious worldwide audience at the iForum customer event.  Our work was cut out for us.
Preparation/Research and Execution Strategy
Greenough’s nine month campaign consisted of three primary initiatives: executing the corporate Sequoia Software acquisition and achieving worldwide awareness, educating and conditioning key new audiences about Citrix’s portal strategy and plans to integrate Sequoia’s XML technology into future customer offerings, and previewing the first product born of the acquisition, Project “South Beach,” at the iForum customer event.  Immediately following the internal announcement that Citrix would acquire Sequoia, Greenough orchestrated a targeted communications outreach plan to effectively distribute the news to key business and trade media targets, and coordinate broadcast and print media interviews within hours of the announcement to ensure timely coverage. 
Following the initial push around the corporate value of the acquisition, we extensively researched key media and industry analysts who significantly influence the portal product marketplace.  We then crafted tailored pitches that framed Citrix’s integration of Sequoia’s portal technology in context of the company’s overarching vision of a “Virtual Workplace,” which enables enterprise customers to access personalized applications and information from any location. 
Citrix iForum planning was conducted over a period of six months and the Greenough team was intimately involved in the message development and logistical planning for the event, particularly the launch of Project “South Beach.”  The event was the most significant in Citrix’s history, with intense international coordination, uncompromising media recruitment strategies (during a time when no one wanted to travel), onsite red carpet treatment of the press/analyst attendees and aggressive follow-up with those not in attendance but participating via the Greenough-produced Webcast spanning two days.
Campaign Execution
A critical success factor in securing blanket press and analyst coverage was establishing relationships with the most appropriate journalists and analysts from each target media outlet and research firm.  Greenough conducted extensive proactive outreach to trade press and analysts who cover the portal product marketplace leading up to and during the South Beach launch at iForum. 
Through editorial and tradeshow press briefings, customer success stories placement, as well as an extensive industry analyst tour, our outreach emphasized how the integration of Sequoia was the next logical step in Citrix’s evolution, enabling it to maintain leadership in the application serving market, while embracing the future of the Web world.  We continuously expanded our target list of influencers and proactively executed on every available opportunity to communicate Citrix’s aggressive entrance into the portal market.  Attention to detail and aggressive “Play to Win” communications strategies are the hallmark of Greenough Communications and nowhere was this more evident than with the results garnered from the “Citrix Act II” campaign.
As a result of our work, Citrix’s acquisition of Sequoia Software and new product direction have been covered close to 600 times in 92 business and financial publications and 100 North American trade publications; and 42 times in industry analyst reports (the initial acquisition announcement alone generated nearly 200 articles), including the following highlights:
  • CRN, “Framing the Future” (11.26.01) – This cover story is the result of pitching Jennifer Hagendorf Follett on the company’s new direction and providing her with executive access at iForum
  • CNNfn “Money Gang” (3.21.01) – Interview with Mark Templeton, Citrix president and CEO
  • TechTV “Techlive” (6.27.01) – Interview with Mark Wesker, Citrix vice president of Internet Strategy and former president of Sequoia Software, at PC Expo tradeshow
  • The Wall Street Journal, “Citrix Systems Agrees to Acquire Sequoia Software for $184.6 Million” (3.21.01)
  • The Miami Herald, “Softwaremaker Buys Web Portal” (3.22.01)
  • Investor’s Business Daily, “Software Maker Citrix Smiles About Second-Quarter Earnings” (8.2.01)
  • The Hurwitz Trend Watch, “Citrix Plants a Sequoia in the Crowded Portal Forrest” (3.23.01)
  • Gartner Research Note, “Citrix and Sequoia: A Good Technology Match” (5.30.01)
Article tags
View Style:

Load 3 More
comments powered by Disqus