The Digital Workplace Category Creator
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The Digital Workplace Category Creator

eRoom Technology challenged PAN Communications to create a new market category, the “digital workplace.” In response, PAN created an innovative PR program that created widespread recognition of eRoom Technology as the pioneering market leader.

Paul Holmes

 

eRoom Technology challenged PAN Communications to create a new market category, the “digital workplace.”  In response, PAN created and implemented an innovative public relations program that defined the digital workplace space and created widespread recognition of eRoom Technology as the pioneering market leader. 

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

In March 2000, eRoom Technology (formerly Instinctive Technology) engaged PAN Communications to relaunch the company.  They had recently undergone a name change and at the same time conceptualized a new market category for the eRoom product, the “digital workplace.” With its name nearly synonymous with collaborative software, PAN was presented with the challenge of differentiating the digital workplace from traditional collaboration technologies.  The challenge was multi-faceted as it not only required repositioning the eRoom product but also involved the creation of a new market category, education of the media and analyst communities and achieving overall recognition and acceptance of the space. 

 

OBJECTIVES: 

 

Brand the company as “eRoom Technology,” the digital workplace market-maker

  • Establish and gain recognition of the digital workplace within the media and analyst communities
  • Position eRoom executives as digital workplace thought leaders
  • Successfully rollout eRoom 5.0 to the industry analyst and media communities
  • Position eRoom as the clear leader in the digital workplace market

 

STRATEGIC APPROACH

 

Category-creator and thought leader role are powerful positions in any industry.  In the digital workplace space, no one company or executive team had stepped in front as either.  With a small window of opportunity to work within, PAN developed a strategic thought leadership campaign that incorporated a core media relations program and focused activities that would put the company on the radar of industry influencers to help eRoom reach its goal of building and solidifying the thought leadership position in the digital workplace market.  Through this campaign, we would deliver the eRoom first-to-market position and digital workplace messages, rollout eRoom 5.0, and solidify eRoom Technology as the “de-facto” standard for digital workplace solutions.

 

CAMPAIGN EXECUTION

 

The tactical campaign was comprised of strategically implemented program elements that provided the foundation and launching pad for eRoom Technology in the marketplace.  The thrust of the campaign was a thought leadership program that integrated analyst relations with several creative elements, including the first “Envisioning the Workplace” event.  

 

In order to kick-off the thought leadership program, it was critical to gain the initial buy-in of the key collaboration analysts as well as the vertical market analysts.  As such, we identified a focus on the supply chain management, CRM, new product development and high-tech manufacturer markets, and began seeding relationships with the analysts that cover these new areas of focus.  Throughout the year, eRoom briefed analysts covering each of these markets at all of the top firms including GartnerGroup, Aberdeen Group, META Group, Forrester Research, AMR Research, Patricia Seybold Group, Collaborative Strategies, IDC, and Yankee Group.  As a result, industry analysts wrote and commented about eRoom, including reports from GartnerGroup and Forrester Research, and provided media and customer references for the company.

 

With key relationships in place and the beginnings of category creation underway, eRoom was well positioned to delve deeper into its vertical markets and take its relationship building to the next level. 

PAN stepped-out of the traditional and began the process of identifying and coordinating meetings with industry influencers across the country, including leaders in the supply chain, new product development and professional services markets, including Product Development Consulting and the Stanford Global Supply Chain Forum.

 

The thought leadership program was rounded out with targeted bylined article and industry award programs.  An aggressive awards program secured many honors for eRoom in the past year.  As part of the bylined article program, PAN created and placed the byline “How to Create A Digital Workplace” in  VAR Business and Boston Business Journal which helped to further establish eRoom executives as thought leaders.  Computerworld named eRoom Technology one its “Top 100 companies to watch in 2001.”  In addition, eRoom received a Crossroads A-List 2001 award in the Virtual Team Workspace category and eRoom.net was named one of PC Magazine’s “Top 100 Web Sites.”

 

Media relations was a primary vehicle for communicating the message of eRoom’s leadership in the digital workplace market.  PAN leveraged customer announcements with Ford Motor Company, Morgan Lewis, Siemens, Deloitte Consulting, Ketchum, and Leo Burnett, as well as partnerships with ABT Corporation, Plumtree, Yankelovich, West Group, Tonbu, Online Resolution, and Logica to demonstrate the capabilities of the digital workplace in the professional services and manufacturing markets.  The effort resulted in stand-alone coverage in Network World, InternetWeek, TechWeb, InformationWeek, KMWorld, Law Technology News and others (see clip book).    Additionally, PAN developed a “golden rolodex card” that was sent to all target media to promote eRoom executives as experts who are available for commentary in areas relative to the digital workplace and its application within the vertical markets. 

 

The year’s efforts to build awareness of eRoom and the digital workplace culminated with eRoom’s first annual industry thought leadership event, “Envisioning the Workplace.”  PAN secured the participation of leading industry reporters and analysts including Bill Bulkeley of The Wall Street Journal, Rochelle Sharpe of BusinessWeek, Polly LeBarre of Fast Company, Mike Rosenwald of The Boston Globe, Diane Rezendes Khirallah of InformationWeek, David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies and Simon Hayward of The GartnerGroup.  PAN also secured participation from top tier media, including   BusinessWeek, InfoWorld, and InformationWeek at the virtual portion of event.  PAN provided onsite media relations and coordinated Boston-based broadcast coverage of the event.  Immediately following the event, PAN sent eRoom executives on a West Coast media and analyst tour to build on the momentum of the event and further establish eRoom’s leadership role in the digital workplace market.  The tour included briefings with Industry Standard, Upside, Red Herring, PC Magazine, eWeek, Financial Times, Creative Strategies, DemoLetter, ComputerLetter (Technologic Partners), and Stanford University’s Dr. Scott Elliot.

 

To date, this January road-show has resulted in stand-alone coverage in Financial Times with others anticipated.

 

SUMMARY

 

In twelve months, eRoom has gone from a virtually unknown company to the leader in a category pioneered by the company and recognized by the marketplace.

 

At the beginning of 2000, the term “digital workplace” was a phrase familiar only to eRoom Technology.  Through the public relations efforts of PAN Communications, the digital workplace has become a valid market category recognized by the media, analyst and industry influencer communities.  In addition, today eRoom Technology is perceived as the category creator and leader in this space.  This position has been validated by media and analysts alike through industry award recognition, editorial coverage and participant interest and attendance at the “Envisioning the Workplace” event.  eRoom has become the de facto standard for digital workplace solutions as evidenced by an increase in its customer base by nearly 60 percent.

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