Paul Holmes 10 Dec 2003 // 12:00AM GMT
On the factory floor, maintenance and engineering operations have historically worked in parallel with little exchange of critical machine information.
Working with Padilla Speer Beardsley Inc. (PSB), Rockwell Automation (RA) had the rare opportunity to launch a product – the Entek XM Series – that will revolutionize the way maintenance and control interact and how maintenance activities are conducted.
The challenge was to both educate the target audiences on the value of proactive maintenance and the benefits of integrating and applying a new technology while introducing the product. To achieve this, PSB developed a campaign that included an aggressive media relations program. At the heart of the campaign were media briefings with Chicago-based publications, followed by individual Web-based conference calls with remaining target media.
Through meticulous planning and ongoing communication with the client and trade editors, PSB planned and executed a comprehensive campaign that resulted in ongoing coverage in the key industry trades and earning industry praise.
Using RA competitor research, PSB confirmed that while competitors provided separate condition based monitoring and machine protection controllers, RA was the only supplier offering an integrated system – a key differentiator.
Applying findings from end-user maintenance and reliability research conducted by RA/PSB and Maintenance Technology in May 2002, PSB developed positioning and key messages that reflect the current climate and capitalize on the XM’s differentiators.
PSB interviewed RA executives, marketing staff and product/service managers to gain background on the technology, application and advantages of the XM. This information was used in key message and material development. The firm also interviewed beta-site customers to gain insight into the product’s capabilities, initial end user response and proof points to back up product claims.
PSB reviewed trade publication circulation, content and editorial calendars, identifying marketplace issues to maximize coverage and build a prioritized media list. RA and PSB also briefed industry analyst firm ARC Advisory Group to test positioning and key messages five months prior to the product launch, which helped redefine messages and focus on industry acceptance of this technology.
The PR team settled on several key messages:
· XM is a one-of-a-kind product that brings together the control and maintenance infrastructure using open network protocols, and integrates condition monitoring and protection functions.
· XM provides information that facilitates proactive maintenance, saving manufacturers money by reducing maintenance expenses and improving system uptime.
· A modular system, XM can be easily and cost -effectively installed into existing applications.
· RA is a leader in providing solutions that help manufacturers reduce downtime and improve operational efficiency.
Building on the momentum created during a meeting with trade editors at RA headquarters in which the XM was briefly discussed, the campaign leveraged this preview and existing trade media relationships to secure wide visibility for the XM Series. These activities also positioned RA as knowledgeable experts on predictive and preventative maintenance.
Strategy: Maximize the use of communication vehicles (external and internal) to introduce the XM Series to key publics and educate them on the technology’s application and capabilities. Consistent messaging was used in all communication to reinforce key messages.
The media launch began August 19, 2002, with on-site briefings scheduled with the key maintenance and automation publishers in the Chicago area and Web conferences with the remaining publications. It provided a forum to introduce the technology, place the story in an industry context, communicate key messages and competitive differentiators, and facilitate discussion. PSB produced an accompanying launch kit containing background information on the company, condition-based monitoring, product detail and contact information. The kit educated editors unable to attend the briefings.
PSB contacted trade editors during August and through September and October to reinforce key messages and to identify and follow up on editorial opportunities. Individual story angles and one-on-one interviews were pitched to select trade publications in the months before and following the media tour. Product exclusives were secured with IEN for the Sept. cover to coincide with the advertising schedule. This included editor meetings at the Automation Fair trade show.
PSB submitted entries to IndustryWeek, Plant Engineering, Plant Services and Design News. News releases on the product launch, IndustryWeek award and Automation Fair solution track were distributed to trade editors and posted on RA Web sites. Advertising and Collateral items were included in media kit content and to assist sales force efforts. Byline articles written by PSB in collaboration with RA provide a venue for expanded discussion on the technology, benefits and applications.
RA Employee/Distributor Education use internal communication vehicles to educate them.
Seven days before the scheduled June media briefings, the launch was postponed due to a delay in product availability. This required PSB to reschedule all media briefings and develop a statement on the delay. Editors appreciated the fact that RA did not launch a product that was not available for sale. The delay resulted in the campaign going $6,000 over budget.
PSB received more requests for Web briefings than first estimated, causing scheduling conflicts with spokespeople. Additional spokespersons were prepared to conduct the briefings.
The XM Series received tremendous positive response, positioning RA as a leader in maintenance solutions.
“Rockwell Automation has raised the bar on asset-management solutions with the 2002 introduction of the Entek XM Series.” – Tonya Vinas, IndustryWeek
RA met with 32 editors representing 20 publications during the media tour (either in person or through the Web briefing). Media briefings resulted in cover photo in the Oct.’02 issue of Plant Engineering. RA was included in round-up articles in 23 publications and/or publication Web sites, representing 53% of Tier I and II publications. These publications have a combined circulation of 913,000. Four Tier I publications covered the XM in more than one issue.
After only three months, 25 clips have appeared, making 1,747,000 total impressions.
Byline articles were secured for the Oct.’02 InTech, Jan.’03 Pit and Quarry and Feb.’03 Plant Services.
XM was one of seven technologies awarded IndustryWeek Technology of the Year; it is the third product in RA history to receive this honor.
XM received the Control Engineering 2002 Editors’ Choice Award for New Product of the Year and was finalist in Plant Engineering and Plant Services Product of the Year awards.
At RA Automation Fair in Nov. 2002, the XM was one of the main components in 12 editor discussions on “Improving Production Asset Availability.”
XM was profiled twice in RA’s internal newsletter, Globally Speaking Sales and on the RA IntraNet site.
Based on the materials developed by PSB for the media tour, Asset Mgmt salespeople received a two day training session in Aug.; and a product launch kit was sent to the RA sales force and authorized distributors in Sept.; news releases and sales materials were posted on the RA Distributor Web site; copies of the November issue of IndustryWeek profiling XM is being sent to each sales office and distributor with a cover letter from the business unit vice president noting early product success.