Paul Holmes 21 Apr 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Gallagher Public Relations (GPR) has a long and distinguished track record of launching high-tech startups in telecommunications and the Internet infrastructure market and promoting them to successful equity events. Ascend Communications, Redback Networks, Copper Mountain Networks, Ipsilon Networks, and Chromatis Networks are among GPR’s notable successes.
Drawing from its extensive experience and well-developed relationships in this market, in 2000 GPR developed a program tailored specifically to the needs of the infrastructure equipment companies preparing for Initial Public Offering (IPO). The GPR IPO Readiness Program is a limited engagement project that focuses media and influencer attention on a company at a time where awareness most directly translates into equity value. The Program leverages the talent and experience of GPR’s most senior personnel to deliver the most effective results in a concentrated timeframe. GPR launched its IPO Readiness Program with new client, Riverstone Networks, as part of the company’s retooled image launch.
Unlike our typical startup clients, Riverstone Networks had existing products and customers, and a great deal of existing information about its products. However, it had received very little press, and was saddled with some negative baggage from its association with Cabletron. Its switch routers were in a market dominated by larger companies like Foundry, Extreme, and Cisco. Our challenge was to establish a strong, independent identity for Riverstone, and to do so within six to nine months. To do this, we beefed up our standard program and expanded our standard PR account team to deliver more content and tactical support in a more concentrated period of time. The team included both of our agency principals (Molly Miller and Kevin Gallagher), GPR's senior strategist, an account supervisor, an account executive, and two account coordinators.
Following a spin-off from Cabletron and in anticipation of an imminent IPO, Riverstone Networks, based in Santa Clara, California, was ripe for GPR’s IPO Readiness Program. In order to launch Riverstone as its own company and heighten awareness of the company’s value proposition and market segment, GPR worked with Riverstone to retool the company’s key messaging and helped establish its product’s key differentiators. GPR then orchestrated a two-week analyst tour to enlarge and strengthen the reference base for Riverstone’s upcoming press tour, news announcements, and financial road show. The goals of the analyst tour were to build a strong image of Riverstone among analysts that were unfamiliar with or confused about the company, to correct misperceptions about Riverstone and its target market, and to define for these influencers the financial criteria that Riverstone should be judged against.
During the first phase of the tour, GPR and Riverstone met with fifteen top tier analyst groups. A full 50 percent of the meetings were first-time introductions for Riverstone. The overwhelming response to Riverstone’s “New Business Internet” story was highly positive.
Following on the heels of the analyst tour, Riverstone and GPR embarked on a two-week press tour. Riverstone met with over twenty press targets, many of which were first time meetings. The presentation and the Riverstone story were both well received. As a result of the tour, Riverstone enjoyed coverage in such top publications as C/NET News.com, Network World, Interactive Week, RedHerring.com, Telephony, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Based on the momentum from the tour and its increased awareness of Riverstone and its products, GPR generated over thirty press hits in key trade and business publications.
To tip the scales in Riverstone’s favor, GPR recast the discussion about switch routers away from its traditional focus on speeds and feeds and toward the need to control and account for bandwidth delivered. GPR did this to leverage the growing perception that fat pipes and access bandwidth were no longer profitable by themselves. GPR then pointed out Riverstone’s unique values (hardware-accelerated bandwidth control, security, and accountability features), and showed how the control and accountability they provide were the key to profitable service delivery in metro networks. In short, GPR beat larger competitors by getting the press and analysts to ask different questions--questions that Riverstone was uniquely equipped to answer.
Press coverage that GPR garnered on Riverstone’s behalf from July 2000 through today (all coverage is listed in supplemental attachments section), shows that it very quickly and very effectively brought Riverstone and its value propositions out of the darkness, and made it a viable player in the metro networking market. Riverstone’s IPO is expected very soon, and the company has recently received a very positive write-up in Red Herring.