Paul Holmes 10 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Lutris Technologies began its partnership with PAN Communications in January of 2000. At the time, Lutris was an unknown Internet consulting company that also had developed a powerful application server software program called Enhydra. In a radical and risky business decision called Open Sourcing, Lutris released its technology onto the Internet and bet that the international Open Source community would return to them a highly advanced, and infinitely modifiable Internet development tool designed to fit a business’ needs exactly. PAN Communications developed and implemented a comprehensive public relations program that built phenomenal brand recognition for both the company and its technology in a market dominated by publicly traded, proprietary software vendors. Lutris Technologies looked to PAN Communications to reposition the company from an Internet professional services firm to a globally competitive product/technology vendor. Additionally, PAN Communications was charged with conducting a general education campaign on the value of open source technologies to the enterprise and the benefits of the open source software development methodology.
CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITIES:
In early 2000, the Java application server market was not only crowded (over 30 vendors offered similar technology) but also dominated by well-known products like BEA’s WebLogic and IBM’s wildly popular WebSphere. Furthermore, there was a widespread industry perception that the term “open source” was limited to the Linux operating system, and corporate information technology departments were reluctant to bring open source technologies into mainstream use. PAN Communications was able to dovetail the launch of our campaign off of the initial public offerings successes of open source Linux distributors Red Hat and VA Linux to create a new market awareness of open source software that could be exploited to the benefit of Lutris Technologies.
Launch Lutris Enhydra, the company’s branded and supported Java/XML open source application server, while generating awareness for the Enhydra Open Source community of developers behind it.
Leverage the product’s strengths and availability to reposition the company as a product/technology vendor.
Position the company and its executives as experts in the evolving Open Source movement and community, as well as the use of open source technology to achieve a competitive business advantage.
PAN Communications implemented a comprehensive public relations program that leveraged aggressive media relations activities and Lutris’ presence at LinuxWorld in February 2000 to introduce the company and its executives to analyst firms and publications such as InformationWeek, Technologic Partners, Hurwitz Group and many others. In addition, PAN initiated relationships with the “shepherds” of the Open Source community and their Web sites to create massive streams of constant exposure. From February to April of 2000, PAN successfully positioned Lutris executives as leaders in the open source and application server industry. Together, these efforts set the stage for PAN Communications to launch Lutris Enhydra 3.0 in April 2000. The resulting media tour netted Lutris close to 40 scheduled press and analyst briefings.
Rather than sit on its laurels, the Lutris PAN Communications team embarked on a many faceted and prolonged media relations campaign that kept the IT trade media’s shifting focus squarely on the company and its newly launched product. Initially, industry curiosity about the Open Source community and its methodology helped secure media placements, but the Lutris PAN Communications team was out to establish a company, not just call attention to a trend.
To that end, PAN Communications established a hyper-aggressive speaking opportunities program to compliment Lutris’ editorial opportunities momentum. PAN positioned key Lutris executives as industry experts, leveraging their respective industry backgrounds and strengths to secure marquee speaker’s positions at conferences such as Wireless DevCon, XML DevCon, Wireless IT 2000, the O’Reilly ‘Birds of a Feather’ Conference and AnyWhereYouGo.com’s Wireless Builders Conference. Further, PAN already has four more speaking opportunities confirmed for Lutris in 2001.
As media exposure grew, and the established proprietary software vendors began to take note of Lutris as a new open source threat, the PAN Communications team abruptly switched gears on the media. Coverage of wireless technologies became all the rage, and Lutris was in a brilliant position to exploit the wireless wave. As an open source technology, developers from around the world contribute to the Enhydra community innovative code solutions that solve new computing problems. The Lutris PAN Communications team seized on this opportunity to get a new “wireless and wired application development” story out to the press, and effectively positioned Lutris and Enhydra as the leading vendor and technology for the development of anytime/anywhere application development. As a result of PAN Communications’ outreach, Lutris quickly closed partnership deals with Motorola and Nokia—the world’s leading wireless hardware and software vendors—and reaped the coverage benefits inherent to closing deals with companies of that size.
Prior to and during the official launch, PAN secured editorial and analyst coverage that included a corporate profile in Technologic Partners’ ComputerLetter, a Hurwitz Group Trend Watch, and an exclusive beta product review with InfoWorld. Additional secured coverage included stand-alone articles in [email protected] Week, Computerworld, Network World, Computer Reseller News and [email protected] Partner, Business 2.0 and Smart Money.
Following the initial product launch, PAN Communications’ aggressive public relations program continued to brand Lutris and Enhydra as leaders in the open source application server space. The company’s corporate spokespeople are firmly positioned as credible industry experts able to comment on a variety of industry trends and are sought after by top editors. Lutris’ net gain from PAN Communication’s efforts after one year of service is total industry and media acknowledgement of the viability of open source software development, as well as brand name recognition as a leader in the application server industry.