The Smart Process Summit
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

The Smart Process Summit

The SmartProcess Summit, a dialogue between electric generation trade editors and executives at Westinghouse Process Control, re-introduced this former division of Westinghouse Corp. to key trade media, and launched its new SmartProcess Optimization Softw

Paul Holmes

 

The SmartProcess Summit, a dialogue between electric generation trade editors and executives and engineers at Westinghouse Process Control, Inc. (WPC), re-introduced this former division of Westinghouse Corp. to its key trade media, and launched its new SmartProcessÔ Optimization Software for the power generation marketplace.  The Summit resulted in trade media coverage for over nine months, dozens of SmartProcess inquiries from interested electric generation customers, new sales tools and executive spokesmanship and bylined article opportunities within the target market.

THE CHALLENGE

WPC engineers, manufactures and markets process control hardware and software for the electric generation industry.  After the breakup of Westinghouse, it was purchased by Emerson and placed within its Fisher-Rosemount family of companies.

During this period, WPC limited or lost contact with a number of its key publics, including trade media covering the electric generation market, which previously recognized it as a major industry player.

In the spring of 2000, WPC was ready to re-introduce itself to trade media with a renewed confidence in its products and its future in electric generation.  WPC was also ready to launch its new SmartProcessÔ product – a suite of software modules designed to optimize the performance of various power generation processes for increased production efficiency and environmental compliance.

RESEARCH & OBJECTIVES

Soft soundings conducted by Magnet Communications among electric generation trade editors in the first quarter of 2000 indicated many were interested in what had been going on at WPC, and wondered if the company could continue its market-leader tradition as part of a different corporate structure.

Initial work for WPC resulting from the partnership of Magnet and the Gray Baumgarten Layport ad agency to coordinate both ad and public relations efforts focused on SmartProcess.  Discussions with WPC engineers and industry experts found that competitors marketing similar products were promising more than any software product could realistically deliver.  Market research conducted by Magnet among electric generation professionals found that experience and a reputation for service were important factors when choosing process control products.  SmartProcess competitors were newer companies (10 years old or less) and many delivered an off-the-shelf software product with little technical service. Ads (tab 2) and public relations for SmartProcess reflected WPC’s experience and technical support. Additional discussion with trade editors showed that not only were they interested in WPC, but also in learning more about process control as a whole.

Magnet believed SmartProcess was an opportunity to successfully re-introduce the company, while branding the product with the unmatchable “Westinghouse” electric generation experience.  Magnet recommended a trade media event with the following objectives:

Re-introduce WPC to its power market trade media as an industry leader;

Introduce SmartProcess as the premiere optimization software product for power utilities; and ,

Secure media coverage featuring key messages of technical expertise and service orientation.

STRATEGIC APPROACH

Magnet invited a strategically targeted group of power generation media to attend “The SmartProcess Summit,” a one-day informational event at WPC’s Pittsburgh headquarters. Local media were also invited, as Pittsburgh continues to be the home of WPC.

Magnet designed the Summit agenda to feature WPC’s industry technical expertise, built over 100 years, and its committed customized service and promote the company’s future business plans. Access to all levels of the company was arranged, from line workers to top executives, in order to present the company as a complete resource for information on power generation process control.

EXECUTION

Magnet notified editors of the event with a “save-this-date” e-mail message, the method research showed they preferred. A formal invitation followed, designed with help from WPC’s ad agency, to extend the leadership message of the SmartProcess ad campaign (tab 2).  All editors were invited to meet WPC staff in advance at a social gathering, in order to smooth introductions at the event.  

For the Summit, Magnet coordinated discussions and demonstrations of current SmartProcess modules with product engineers. Attendees were given a rare opportunity to discuss the direction of the company with President Ann Pauley over lunch.  Editors discussed WPC’s business plan with the Director of Business Planning and spoke with staff on the manufacturing floor about building high-tech process control systems.  Finally, the Vice President of Marketing & Product Development spoke one-on-one with editors about technology issues (tab 3).

Magnet prepared WPC engineers for the event, developing and rehearsing demonstrations and presentations.  The engineering segment ended with a preview of a new SmartProcess module, increasing the news value of the product presentation (tab 3).  

Magnet consulted on remarks for the executive presentations (tab 3) as well.  Ann Pauley’s remarks referred to an upcoming contract the company would announce shortly, further extending the newsworthiness of the event and reinforcing WPC’s future as a leader in process control for the power industry.

Media materials (see back pocket) focused on technology, highlighting field-test installations in Iowa and Wisconsin in the United States and in Poland. To strengthen the case histories, Magnet organized on-site video shoots with less than two weeks of production time, providing credible testimonial on SmartProcess for the Summit (tab 4).  Magnet also worked with a WPC contact in Poland to provide a video testimonial of the Polish site.  

RESULTS

With a final budget of $60,000, Magnet was able to rebuild trade media relationships, while providing product publicity and a strong foundation for positioning WPC as the process control expert in electric generation.  

Positive relationships were established with editors representing three of the most influential power publications – Power Magazine, Power Engineering and Power Online – who attended the event, and with one from Control Engineering, a process control trade, who also attended.

Power Online included SmartProcess in its “Product Spotlight” for four weeks, following up with a feature on all three case histories, and a sidebar interview with Ann Pauley focusing on the companies technical tradition.  SmartProcess was also included in Power Online’s weekly e-mail newsletter for four weeks. Of the 63 leads WPC received for the $300,000+ product during the time it appeared on the site, 18 came directly from Power Online (tab 5).

Power featured SmartProcess and WPC’s contract with PacifiCorp in its Sept./Oct. technology feature and a story on the Poland case study in Nov./Dec.; Power Engineering featured SmartProcess in August and the PacifiCorp contract on its Web site; Control Engineering highlighted SmartProcess on its Web site (tab 5). All stories carried the messages of service and expertise.

As a result of the Summit, Environmental Protection will run a by-lined article on the emission reduction capabilities for optimization software in its April 2001 issue, giving WPC the opportunity to “own” the issue in the environmental press (tab 6). Another byline of SmartProcess’s emissions reduction capabilities is scheduled to appear in Coal Age in May of 2001 (tab 6).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review met with Ann Pauley, resulting in two stories on WPC the next day, and regular inclusion in daily business briefs for all recent news releases (tab 7).

As a result of Ann Pauley’s luncheon remarks, trade and local media covered the company’s contract announcement with PacifiCorp in July (tab 8).

During an interview with Power, WPC Vice President Bob Yeager was invited to speak at McGraw-Hill Energy’s AGA/EEI Conference on IT, attended by CIO’s and plant managers in electric generation.  Ann Pauley has been invited to serve as the 2001 keynote speaker for the ISA.POWID conference.

WPC’s engineering staff, impressed with the testimonials included on the SmartProcess video, adopted the piece as a sales tool, regularly providing it to prospective SmartProcess customers.
WPC’s communications staff, also pleased with the video, commissioned Magnet to produce more sophisticated testimonials for its Ovation Control & Information System, for use by the sales force (tab 9).

View Style:

Load 3 More
comments powered by Disqus