The Consumer Press Breakthrough; Lexmark Launches All-In-One Print Centers
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The Consumer Press Breakthrough; Lexmark Launches All-In-One Print Centers

In the spring of 2001, Lexmark, a manufacturer of inkjet and laser printers, charged The Weber Group (TWG) with launching a media relations campaign for its new X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers (launched June 25, 2001).

Paul Holmes

In the spring of 2001, Lexmark, a manufacturer of inkjet and laser printers, charged The Weber Group (TWG) with launching a media relations campaign for its new X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers (launched June 25, 2001).  TWG recognized the numerous creative applications for these products and saw the opportunity to breakthrough to consumer media – who are generally reluctant to cover technology issues—while at the same time expanding relationships with established trade contacts. 

TWG staged a two-day interactive media event in New York City showcasing Lexmark’s technology in an at-home setting, introducing Lexmark to a new set of media – consumer – and creating buzz among established trade press prior to the official launch of the products at PC Expo two weeks later.  Also, TWG utilized the back-to-school season as an opportunity to reach shoppers and reached out to consumer media outlets.  The campaign resulted in coverage in a variety of top venues including NBC’s “Today Show,” “ACB World News Now,” and Martha Stewart Living.

Challenges

What’s an inkjet, anyway?
Þ  In the past, TWG found it difficult to peak the interest of consumer press with Lexmark’s products, with reporters maintaining that it didn’t fit with the publication’s demographic.  TWG knew that in order to break into this segment of media, the team would need to brainstorm creative consumer applications for the products and present them in a simplified, low-tech, jargon-free manner. 
Brand Loyalty
Þ  As with general consumers, reporters also prefer certain brands.  A good example of this is“The Today Show” technology correspondent, Corey Greenberg, who frequently featured Epson products in his segments.  In the past, TWG struggled to breakthrough to Corey with product announcements and creative pitch angles, but he remained focused solely on Epson.
Summer Fun
Þ  With a launch date late in June, TWG would have to keep in close contact with numerous media contacts throughout the summer months, a time during which many are on vacation. 

Research/Objectives

Þ  Conducted extensive research to determine appropriate media targets, selecting outlets that reach Lexmark’s key target audiences. 
Þ  Studied areas of interest to media targets and developed an outreach strategy based on these findings.
Þ  Monitored competitor announcements and coverage in the inkjet and multifunction product category to stay abreast of the marketplace.     

Objectives
Þ  Create and execute a launch strategy to generate interest in new products.
Þ  Position the Lexmark imaging centers as the latest “must-haves” for consumers.
Þ  Showcase products with a focus on user creativity and product applications.
Forge new relationships with reporters at influential media outlets.

Strategy & Execution

Strategy
Þ  TWG put into action a strategy to build product awareness and consumer interest through an extensive media relations campaign that included:
Taking advantage of the back-to-school season to pitch products for inclusion in round-ups and product reviews.
Staging an interactive media event featuring the products in a home setting to demonstrate creative and practical product applications. 
Using PC Expo as an opportunity to continue momentum created by the media event and keep the products top-of-mind among key media targets. 

Execution

Back-to-School (June – August, 2001) 
With the summer launch in mind, TWG leveraged the back-to-school season as an opportunity to seize the attention of consumer press, especially the discriminating Corey Greenberg, who is considered one of the most influential consumer-technology reporters in the business. 

Through creative mailings that included inkjet produced craft projects, TWG demonstrated to media why these new products were the latest “must-have” for the new school year.
 
Media Event in New York City (June 5 – 6, 2001)
Þ  TWG planned and executed a media event entitled “Bringing Technology Home.”  This was an opportunity to introduce the new Lexmark X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers (prior to launch) to key trade and business contacts and engage a new set of reporters – the consumer press – in discussions surrounding consumer printing trends.  TWG successfully secured 20 attendees for this event, which included a tour through a home setting enhanced with subtle use of technology, illustrating the increasing pervasiveness of print technology and applications for the new products. 

PC Expo Trade Show (June 25, 2001) 
Þ  Riding the strong momentum of the “Bringing Technology Home” event in New York City, PC Expo was used to formally launch the Lexmark X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers and reach out to reporters unable to attend the media event and keep the products top-of-mind to those who did attend the media event.  (Appendix B: PC Expo summary report for client)

Product Reviews (Ongoing)
Þ  TWG maintains a comprehensive reviews program that serves to garner visibility for Lexmark’s inkjet printers.  Throughout the year, TWG worked to expand its reviews program to consumer publications and broadcast outlets, while maintaining strong relationships with key trade press.

Results

The Big Breakthrough…
Þ Persistence pays.  TWG earned the attention of Corey Greenberg, resulting in back-to-school coverage of the Lexmark X83 on “The Today Show” – airing on 8/21/01.  Greenberg referred to Lexmark as a “legendary manufacturer of budget printers, budget scanners. They put together what I consider to be the greatest in an all-combination unit.”

Additional Media Highlights…
Þ  Additional product coverage included ABC World News Now, Martha Stewart Living, C/Net, MSNBC, Investor’s Business Daily, MacWorld and Smart Computing. 
Þ  Garnered X83 and X73 product requests from 59 reporters, including top consumer outlets: Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle and Rosie.
Þ  Scheduled 20 media attendees for tours of the Morgans’ penthouse “Bringing Technology Home” event, including top-tier trade, business and consumer press.
Þ  Secured meetings at PC Expo trade show with influential press contacts from organizations such as MSNBC, Rolling Stone, Consumer Reports, PC Magazine and Popular Science.

Evaluation of Success…

Objective: Results:
Create and execute a launch strategy to generate interest in new products. To date, TWG has secured 72 media placements featuring the X83 and X73.
Position the new print centers as the latest “must have” for consumers. Showcased to media the numerous creative and practical applications the X83 and X73 offer to the modern consumer lifestyle.
Showcase products with a focus on user creativity and product applications. Lexmark All-In-One featured in Martha Stewart Living as an ideal tool for home-craft projects.
Forge new relationships with reporters at influential consumer outlets. In addition to “The Today Show” and Martha Stewart Living, TWG was successful in opening-up a dialogue and building relationships with contacts at MSNBC, Family Circle, Popular Science and ABC News.

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