Kodora Communications successfully developed and implemented a strategic media relations program in support of this client’s overall business objectives, focusing primarily upon trade and specialty publications, and including some national, regional and local business outlets. We worked closely with the client to overcome several business, perception and reputation challenges, and establish the firm as a leading force and recognized market expert in the direct-access securities trading industry. Paraphrasing the client CEO – Kodora played a significant role in helping to establish ProTrader as a leader within its industry, which led to the firm’s acquisition by Instinet (world’s largest electronic agency securities broker) in October 2001– thus achieving ProTrader’s two primary objectives for its overall business at the onset of 2001.
Several challenges had to be overcome from the onset of the program. These included:
· The widespread negative perception and mistrust of the day trading sector within the financial services and investment community, and related journalists.
· A steady stream of harmful press coverage on the unethical practices of some day trading firms some of their traders.
· Client’s desire to distance itself from the negatively perceived day trading sector and re-position the firm as a professional direct-access trading firm (a previously unknown/unused term).
· Relatively unknown status of the client among its target customer base and the financial services, investment, business and applicable regional media.
· Reluctance of Austin-based media to cover the client (headquarters were in Austin).
Performed extensive research into the past and current perceptions of the day trading industry among all of the client’s target audiences, and determined the level of awareness of ProTrader among those audiences and what reputation it currently had (if any). Conducted fact findings/audit team meetings with ProTrader’s executive management and closely studied their nearest competitors to determine the client’s competitive differentiators. The active trader sector and related financial markets were also thoroughly researched.
The planning process involved extensive collateral development; executive media training; the development and implementation of a crisis communications plan and its distribution to management in every regional office; establishing a company-wide communications protocol; media kit development; media pitch preparation; website enhancements and trade show identification and support. The primary objectives of the program were to positively raise ProTrader’s profile (both nationally and regionally), establish the firm as a leading force in the direct-access trading industry and position it for a major partnership/acquisition within the next two years.
A strategic plan was developed to support a significant corporate rebranding effort, designed to present a consistent, compelling and positive brand identity for the client, its trading technology and trading customers (existing and desired). All communications initiatives were designed to position the client as a leading direct-access trading firm, committed to responsible, ethical trading practices and appropriate trader training, as well as providing cutting-edge trading technology and customer support. This included consistently defining the client’s customer base as semi-professional and professional active traders. A strategic and proactive media relations program was also designed to significantly raise target audience awareness of the client as a leading direct-access trading firm, regularly position its executives as industry experts, and to establish the direct benefits of its proprietary trading software.
Execution of Plans
The International Online Trading Expo in New York (February 2001) was used as the launching point to set up introductory interviews with attending media and establish some initial journalist relationships. Concurrently, introductory pitches and applicable background materials were sent to a large and targeted list of mainstream business, financial, regional and trade media outlets.
An ongoing aspect of our media relations plan was the constant monitoring of industry news and market developments, coupled with regular planning meetings with the client. This enabled Kodora to regularly formulate newsworthy pitches/story ideas and position the client as an authoritative market expert who could add interesting commentary and value to specific story ideas.
Press releases were also developed to promote the client’s move into the institutional/small hedge fund arena and its ongoing progress, with the media outreach yielding some prominent feature articles in outlets that had never previously covered the direct-access industry. A regional media program was also executed to raise awareness and coverage of ProTrader in Austin and other markets where the client had trading offices.
Marketing Campaign Results
In 2001, ProTrader was featured or included in 153 articles in top-tier trade, financial, business, technology, specialty-Internet and regional business publications. The firm was also successfully acquired by Instinet, the world’s largest electronic agency securities broker, in October 2001. Coverage of the client included feature pieces on the latest developments at the firm (executive changes/trading platform enhancements/events/growth in customers), regional articles on local trading offices, inclusion in industry trend articles with appropriate competitors, and being quoted in market news pieces.
Within a month of implementing the marketing strategy in late January, the client became a regular market expert, quoted in literally every applicable industry piece on the latest trends or developments, such as the direct-access industry’s move upstream, or the impact of decimalization and Nasdaq’s new SuperSOES market. A significant amount of coverage was also generated from Instinet’s acquisition of ProTrader. Additionally, the client was featured repeatedly in Austin and gained a notable amount of regional coverage for its various trading offices.