In July 1999, a 20-person San Jose, Calif.-based company named fusionOne tapped FitzGerald Communications to help establish the company’s identity and launch its Internet sync service, which allows mobile professionals and consumers worldwide to automatically access and synchronize all their personal digital information across multiple devices. FitzGerald’s strategy of targeting several key influencers, followed by solid execution, allowed the team to overcome a number of communications challenges and raise fusionOne’s visibility to become the industry leader that they are today.
FitzGerald faced several challenges with fusionOne. Because synchronization was a fairly new issue at the consumer level, FitzGerald had to creatively brainstorm ways to highlight another Silicon Valley start-up offering a “revolutionary” new consumer service.
fusionOne was also a small, new player competing against Goliaths in the industry. Puma Technology, for instance, received much media attention as their stock rose 3,770% as the largest appreciating stock in 1999. Another competitor, Starfish, was an established subsidiary of Motorola, and featured industry luminary Phillippe Kahn at the helm. To launch fusionOne and compete for media attention with these players, FitzGerald only had a $20,000/month budget.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVES/RESEARCH/PROGRAM STRATEGY
Since the opportunities and challenges afforded by synchronization were a relatively new issue at the consumer level, our objectives were to:
- generate awareness of the issue of keeping personal information up-to-date and accessible on multiple devices
- distinguish fusionOne as the pioneer of synchronization that leverages the Internet
- position CEO Rick Onyon as a thought leader on the topics of synchronization and mobile computing.
FitzGerald’s strategy was to connect with a focused set of prominent industry players to endorse fusionOne’s vision of a “truly connected lifestyle” and its innovative Internet sync product. FitzGerald also heavily researched and leveraged trends in wireless and mobile devices to expand the reach for fusionOne’s messages, using fusionOne announcements—such as strategic partnerships, industry group memberships, technology initiatives and high-level executive hires—to position fusionOne as a pioneer in its space.
For example, FitzGerald identified Mark Frauenfelder, a former WIRED reporter who was contributing to The Industry Standard, as one of the most knowledgable and influential targets. Starting with the smart pitch attached, and building a relationship by discussing Frauenfelder’s extracurricular graphic arts work with Chip Wass, FitzGerald was able to engender Frauenfelder’s interest to meet with fusionOne, test the service and schedule a feature story on the “next phase” of synchronization.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
The results of FitzGerald’s overall campaign were exceptional. FitzGerald cultivated relationships with influential analysts, like Bob Egan at GartnerGroup, Ross Rubin at Jupiter Communications and Jack Gold at META Group, and with such high profile media contacts as industry pundit Bob Metcalfe, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg, BusinessWeek columnist Steve Wildstrom and Release 1.0 editor Kevin Werbach. As a result, fusionOne received strong accolades in Metcalfe’s column, an invitation to PC Forum by Werbach and annual invitations to COMDEX panels by Bob Egan.
fusionOne’s product coverage has overwhelmingly out-shined Puma and Starfish, both in quality and quantity. Due to FitzGerald’s efforts, fusionOne has been featured in the Associated Press, Brill’s Content, Business 2.0, Business Week, Dow Jones, Fast Company, Forbes ASAP, Fortune, The Industry Standard, Red Herring, Reuters, TIME, Upside, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CBS Evening News in Los Angeles and more.
By raising fusionOne’s visibility through credible PR, FitzGerald’s efforts have also contributed to a number of fusionOne’s business successes. These include: attracting over 260 new employees; establishing strategic partnerships with companies like Franklin Covey, Groove Networks, Hewlett Packard, InfoSpace, MP3.com, Sabre, seeUthere.com and NBCi; and, closing $140 million in total funding from such investors as Chase Capital, Flatiron Partners, Hewlett Packard, Nokia Ventures, Oppenheimer Funds, 3Com Ventures, El Dorado Ventures, and many other leading investment banks.
Today, fusionOne is a recognized leader, due to FitzGerald’s smart strategy, ability to craft a strong story and persistent management of the media.