WorldCom Conferencing: Meetings in America III
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WorldCom Conferencing: Meetings in America III

Soon after being named as agency of record for WorldCom Conferencing, Dome embarked on its first significant program: develop, leverage and publicize WorldCom’s annual survey of the American workforce

Paul Holmes

Soon after being named as agency of record for WorldCom Conferencing (WorldCom) Dome Communications Inc (Dome) embarked on its first significant program: develop, leverage and publicize WorldCom’s third annual survey of the American workforce, “Meetings In America III: A Study of the Virtual Workforce in 2001” (MIA III).  
 
This survey (MIA III) was designed to build upon momentum generated by the success of WorldCom’s previous Meetings in America surveys, which compared how the cost benefits of teleconferencing vs. business travel impact productivity (MIA I) and the Internet’s impact on business productivity (MIA II). Having analyzed results of both surveys, Dome viewed MIA III as an opportunity to highlight current business communications trends and demonstrate how WorldCom is uniquely qualified to respond to those trends.
 
CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY
 
Dome overcame numerous challenges including:
  • Identify an emerging workplace trend that could generate newsworthy research results that would also highlight the benefits of WorldCom Conferencing.
  • Use MIA III and its results to distinguish WorldCom’s services/capabilities from the more than ten major conferencing service providers and scores of niche conferencing companies that serve the ultra-competitive $1.5 billion conferencing market.
 

RESEARCH/PLANNING
 
Planning for the MIA III program launch began in October 2000, five months prior to the announcement date. Dome used this time to identify a suitable MIA III survey topic; finalize survey questions; create the media strategy; acclimate and media train third parties; and write a white paper to report the survey conclusions. 
 
Knowing that the best way to hook media on MIA III was to tie conferencing services’ benefits to workplace trends, Dome began seeking out the trend that survey results could support. Dome investigated federal government studies and Harvard University research on workplace trends, as well as interviewed conferencing technology users. From these efforts came the identification of a rising workforce trend:  the emergence of “virtual workers” who collaborate on projects from multiple, far-flung locations.  This was the platform Dome had been looking for.
 
Leading up to an early March launch, Dome researched several authors dedicated to the topic of virtual work and the virtual workforce, recognizing that one of them could be an ideal third-party spokesperson who would lend credibility to the study. To that end, Dome secured nationally recognized author Dr. Jaclyn Kostner. Together, Dome, Dr. Kostner and Modalis Research Technologies developed myriad survey questions that would generate compelling consumer feedback, translating into interesting and customized print and broadcast story angles. 
 
OBJECTIVES
 
For WorldCom’s MIA III initiative, Dome’s main objectives were to:

  • Raise awareness of, and demand for, WorldCom Conferencing services
  • Generate awareness for WorldCom Conferencing by securing 20 million media impressions and ensure more than 85 percent brand mention in media placements
  • Achieve a stronger than industry average CPM of $3 or less
  • Establish WorldCom as an authority on conferencing technology
 
STRATEGIC APPROACH
 
Dome’s positioning for MIA III was designed to differentiate it from the two previous surveys. Dome maximized interest by making results relevant to several target audiences and naturally identified “newsy” trends, including technology’s impact on cost, productivity and attitudes; virtual work as a means to work/life balance; efficiency and the institutional acceptance of virtual work. A step further, Dome bolstered  MIA III survey results as important data that, when analyzed with results from MIA I and II, provided a multi-dimensional look at the major areas influencing today’s business environment and the related workplace movements and trends.
 
Dome also leveraged third-party credibility. Utilizing Dr. Kostner would highlight and legitimize survey results. 
 
Knowing that MIA III’s impact could be felt globally, Dome’s communications strategy targeted top business publications that would communicate the survey’s key messages to a variety of key corporate decision-makers. Most importantly, Dome sought media coverage that not only reached the target audiences, but also positioned WorldCom at the forefront of this technology.
 
Dome also coordinated a series of carefully timed broadcast and print media efforts, including a satellite radio tour (SRT) and Net Conference presentation to announce the results to the media.
 
Additionally, Dome used the news to immerse media in a “user experience” and did so by leveraging WorldCom’s Net Conferencing technology to communicate the survey results of MIA III.  This approached fully engaged reporters and other attendees in a truly interactive and fun experience.
 
To ensure the effective communication of survey results, Dome planned an extensive spokesperson media training one day prior to the program launch.
 
EXECUTION
 
Dome’s media outreach began with the offer of an exclusive to workplace reporters. First, Dome secured an exclusive “first break” with Newsday’s workplace reporter Patricia Kitchen. Then, Dome distributed press kits to the top 150 dailies and distributed the press release over PR Newswire. Offering interviews with WorldCom representative Tim Reedy and Dr. Kostner, Dome also worked with a reporter from Time Magazine’s first-ever Global Business section to develop an in-depth trend story on managing a global workforce using technology. 
 
At the same time Dome was scheduled to host a Net Conference to announce the survey results to the media. Moderated by Tim Reedy and Dr. Kostner, both in different locations across the United States, the Net Conference would showcase the benefits of this exciting technology.  Dome secured attendance from a wide range of media, including Time, Investors Business Daily, Internet Week, Network World, Meeting News, Florida Times Union, Tele Span Publishing Group, Akron Beacon-Journal, Convention South Magazine and Richmond Times Dispatch
 
Next, Dome conducted a national satellite radio tour with Dr. Kostner, who discussed the survey results with prominent radio outlets. Her perspective and WorldCom’s messages reached 2 million listeners in several major markets including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Miami.
 
RESULTS
 
In a multi-layered media approach, Dome combined traditional and non-traditional communication vehicles, such as WorldCom technology, to highlight WorldCom Conferencing’s services and media results surpassed the program’s objectives as well as client expectations.
 
Raise awareness of, and demand for, WorldCom Conferencing services
Result:  WorldCom Conferencing saw a 20 percent increase in inquiries for its services
 
Generate awareness for WorldCom Conferencing by securing 20 million media impressions and ensure more than 85 percent brand mention in media placements
Result:  Dome generated more than 22 million media impressions and 100 percent brand mention in media placements
 
Achieve a stronger than industry average CPM of $3 or less
Result:  Dome achieved a $2.68 CPM
 
Establish WorldCom Conferencing as an authority on conferencing technology
Result:  Both Tim Reedy and Dr. Kostner were quoted in dozens of articles and radio interviews reinforcing WorldCom’s knowledge and expertise
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