The Supplies Division had just hired a public relations manager who was not in a position to take the lead on the announcement. Xerox looked to Text 100 to completely own the project. Text 100 developed the public relations announcement strategy and handled all aspects of implementation, including planning, development of all press materials, arranging press meetings, communication and integration with other divisions and departments of Xerox, production of press kits, debrief documents, and follow up with the press. Text 100 became an extension of the Supplies Division.
The management and implementation of the Pixography announcement truly exemplifies not only the capabilities of Text 100, but also the care and heart its teams put forth to support their clients.
There were several challenges faced while planning and executing the launch of the Pixography Solution.
The Pixography Solution offers some features that are similar to the Kodak PictureMaker. In the views of Xerox, Pixography falls into an entirely different product category than the Kodak product—one that hasn’t yet been defined. Xerox was very sensitive to making any statements that compared Pixography to the Kodak product because it did not want the press to make comparisons or group Pixography in the same product category with Kodak. While this is an opportunity for Xerox to define and own this new space, it was a challenge to describe the strengths of the product without referencing a product the press was familiar with.
One of the biggest challenges the team faced was not having a customer to present to the press to establish credibility. The team compensated by gaining buy-in from consultants and informing press that beta sites were near completion, and contracts were in progress.
Text 100 had not previously worked with the Xerox Pixography team. Although the relationship was positive from the start, it’s always a challenge to learn working styles of new clients, build trust and respect and find ways to motivate executives to respond. Text 100 had a condensed timeframe to establish this relationship, plan, prepare and complete a major announcement.
The Xerox Pixography team had conducted numerous focus group studies with the targeted consumers of this system—“soccer moms.” This research was critical in determining how users would interact with the system, the ease-of-use of the walk-up kiosk and software and what costs consumers would bear. This insight was extremely helpful in educating the Text 100 team on the technology and in developing the strategy of the announcement. Competitive analysis also provided insight to the key competitive differentiators of the Pixography Solution. This information was critical to establishing the priority of messages, preparing for consultant and press interviews and developing all press materials. Additionally, beta test sites have been operating within a well-known grocery store line and two office supplies store chains. Although the names of these locations could not be disclosed at the announcement, mention of the existence of test sites proved to be a valuable proof point with editors.
The communication strategy for the Pixography launch focused on the print-for-pay and graphic arts markets for the initial announcement. Text 100 reviewed the key events taking place in the graphic arts industry and recommended an announcement at the Graph Expo tradeshow in Chicago. Graph Expo, one of the largest annual tradeshows targeted to the graphic arts market, focuses on areas such as digital prepress, printing, publishing and converting technologies - a perfect location to announce Pixography. This timing gave Text 100 only two months to create the PR plan and organize for the launch.
Text 100 joined the existing Xerox Graph Expo planning team to represent Pixography and integrate into the corporate strategy for the show. The Graph Expo team made the decision to plan an evening press and consultant event during the show to officially announce Xerox’s new products, including the Pixography Solution. It was determined that Ann Mulcahy, Xerox President, would host the event and be the spokesperson for Pixography. Ann Mulcahy’s public support of this new technology was a critical element of the Pixography launch plan. In addition, Text 100 coordinated with the Xerox Consultant Relations teams to plan pre-announcement discussions with analysts. These non-disclosure meetings would allow the Pixography team to test its messages and strategy prior to the announcement.
The main objectives of the announcement focused on generating awareness and understanding of the value, benefit and superiority of the Xerox Pixography Solution.
- Increase credibility and awareness of Xerox in the print-for-pay and graphic arts markets
- Announce and showcase the new Pixography system; focusing on the key competitive differentiators
- Announce and showcase a new Xerox photo paper; highlighting it’s innovation and design
- Demonstrate that Xerox continues to deliver color print systems that meet the demands of customers and expand Xerox’s market reach; allude to future Pixography offerings or features
- Allude to negotiations in progress with retailers and key print-for-pay customers
The timing of the announcement was based on the opportunity to be a part of one of the most important events for the graphic arts audience – Graph Expo.
Securing Ann Mulcahy as the spokesperson at the event was a critical component of the announcement strategy. Her public support would exemplify to the press the importance of this new technology.
Gaining support from third-party audiences. Although beta sites were in progress at the time of the announcement, the managers of the sites did not give Xerox permission to publicly announce the names of the companies. This lack of a customer reference was a challenge. To fill this gap, non-disclosed briefings were scheduled and held with key analysts. The meetings provided the Pixography team the opportunity to test messages and seek insight and “buy in” from respected, knowledgeable third parties that were used as references to the press.
Development of comprehensive announcement materials. The personalized imaging market space that the Pixography Solution is entering is not clearly defined. It was critical that the materials clearly explained the Pixography Solution, how it is used and what it creates. This explanation helped make the distinction for the press between Pixography and competitive products.
In-person demonstrations and one-on-one press meetings enabled the press to capture the true power of the announcement.
Pre-announcement briefings held with industry consultants from DocuTrends, CAP Ventures and Lyra
Prepare Ann Mulcahy and the team for press questions with an internal Q&A document
Creation of comprehensive announcement materials including: press release, technology fact sheet, two supporting photos and captions, print samples, brochures, creative press kit cover
Prior to Graph Expo, calls were placed to editors inviting them to stop by the booth for a booth tour and an opportunity to meet with the Pixography executives. 15 in-person meetings and demonstrations were held with press. An additional 19 experienced Pixography during a booth tour.
Participation in the formal press and consultant event held at the Chicago Firehouse, with Ann Mulcahy, Xerox President, announcing Pixography. Over 40 press and consultants attended.
Text 100 submitted Pixography in the Graph Expo “Must See ‘Em Awards”. The Pixography Solution was awarded the “Worth-A-Look” award, which is given to products or technology that is a “must see” by all show attendees. A placard was presented and displayed in the Xerox booth for the length of the show.
The objectives of the announcement activities were clearly met and can be considered a success.
The press event at the Chicago Firehouse presented an overview of what Xerox is doing in the print-for-pay and graphic arts markets and highlighted top announcements. The presentation by Mulcahy provided an overview of the Pixography Solution and identified why this system is unique and will be a successful new product for Xerox for the graphic arts market. The special photopaper designed exclusively for Pixography was highlighted during every demonstration, in the press kit and in Mulcahy’s speech.
In all cases, the message to the press was that Xerox is here to stay in this market and will continue to develop new products and improve existing technologies. One of the first questions asked by press was about current or prospective customers. The Pixography team did an excellent job of stating that there are established beta sites and negotiations in progress with major retailers in the grocery and office supplies area. Overall the Xerox Pixography clients were extremely pleased with the performance of Text 100, the Must See ‘Em Award, response from the press and resulting coverage.