Paul Holmes 04 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Metawave Communications is a five-year-old player in the wireless infrastructure market dedicated to reducing the cost of wireless capacity. For roughly the first three years of its existence, it was in “R&D mode,” focusing on developing the technology behind its vision. During these early years, PR efforts were primarily focused on vertical coverage in the wireless and engineering media, as well as local press. As the company began full-scale commercial deployments and was ramping up ahead of its IPO, it needed to commence a full scale PR program to position it into the mainstream media, technology media and wireless media as the solution for the capacity problem facing wireless operators. The company approached Text 100 to help communicate that Metawave was truly first-to-market with its “smart antenna” technology (SpotLight®), a technology that had been talked about for many years, but had yet to be proven as commercially viable.
While Metawave received mentions about its smart antenna technologies, the company had little to no profile outside the wireless and engineering press. Mainstream technology trade and business publications were not aware of the company and its core value of delivering cost-effective wireless network capacity solutions that have a large impact on the wireless industry. As Metawave went through its IPO, it was especially important to convince a broader audience that the company was worth the attention of Wall Street investors.
In addition, local awareness appeared to be strong, but not always positive, as the company had gone through a reduction in force just a year earlier. Even the vertical wireless media and analyst community was growing skeptical of the technology Metawave was evangelizing. As the CEO of the company often claims, “we are the first company turning a science project into a real business.” This “science project” understanding by the media was beginning to make it skeptical about if and when the technology could be made viable.
Text 100 conducted extensive research concerning Metawave’s position in the wireless market and found that Metawave was playing a large part in the overall success of the wireless industry. Wireless operators were indeed facing the challenges of ensuring that their wireless networks had sufficient capacity in the wake of increasing wireless subscription rates. The industry was also facing the inevitable change in the next generation of wireless services, and if operators aren’t preparing their networks for the future, the industry may be heading on a collision course to “3G,” or third generation networks. Metawave’s solution was an integral part of enabling the next generation of wireless voice and Internet services since their solution is readily available today and is also applicable in the future. Essentially, Metawave’s innovative technology solves mission critical problems for wireless operators.
Text 100 and Metawave tied Metawave’s specific business goals directly to PR. Text 100’s patented SMART PR Methodology measures the PR campaign on the basis of achieving the clients key goals and objectives. After in depth discussion and research, Text 100 drafted and delivered a PR plan that mapped directly to Metawave’s goals of reaching the wireless industry, the investment community and the general public (please see supporting materials for a copy of the plan). A great deal of research was done to gauge perceptions at the commencement of the program to benchmark perceptions and awareness, enabling the team to measure the results and the end of the plan period.
Metawave’s PR Program had three primary objectives that tied directly to the company’s business goals:
- Educate key audiences about Metawave’s position as the global leader of smart antenna systems
- Generate awareness of the industry-wide wireless capacity issue and Metawave’s solution to eliminate the capacity “crunch”
- Generate awareness among wireless operators and infrastructure manufacturers of Metawave’s solution, positioning it as a major wireless solution for current and 3G systems
The company’s principal audience was wireless operators and infrastructure manufacturers, the organizations that purchased their current product and that would be purchasing it in the future. Secondly, the company wanted “smart antennas” to become a more mainstream technology within the technology trade and business media. Thirdly, local media was also identified as a target for recruiting and employee morale purposes.
Text 100 addressed Metawave’s problems by working to elevate the frequency and clarity of the communications with the media, as well as expanding the reach of the media the company regularly communicated with. As part of a core publicity campaign, Text 100 packaged the story around “wireless survival” and “wireless capacity” angles and aggressively approached the industry, wireless operators and infrastructure manufacturers through the media and industry analysts. The success of the program was dependant upon the creativity, frequency and aggressiveness of communications with the media to cement Metawave in a leadership position. The key was to articulate Metawave’s leadership position and industry expertise to targeted trade and business media and industry analysts. Text 100 also worked to move Metawave away from the so-called rivals, proving the technology was worthy to stand on its own.
Text 100 conducted a follow-up messaging workshop and subsequent media training sessions to crystallize the messaging and delivery with the executive staff (please see supporting materials for the messaging). The tactics involved a core program of heavy proactive media relations, speaking opportunity placement and analyst relations. The key to re-positioning Metawave was really an education campaign to its key audiences about the value the company’s technology brought to the market and how the company is at the forefront of wireless infrastructure technology.
The success of the program can be measured in terms of the company’s business goals. Text 100’s SMART PR Methodology measures and evaluates each piece of coverage against agreed upon messaging and key result areas. Critical to Metawave’s success was a solid understanding of the company by the analyst community, which was evidenced by the quality of quotes and understanding they demonstrated as media references. Between 88 and 100 percent (depending on spokesperson) of the interviews conducted resulted in articles with key messaging pickup, a significant improvement in the understanding demonstrated by the media that covered Metawave. Over the course of the campaign, major coverage was secured in a wide variety of publications such as c|net, Upside, Forbes, CBS Marketwatch, CNBC’s Squawk Box, Dow Jones, eWeek, Interactive Week, Wireless Week, tele.com as well as all local dailies. Aside from simply increasing the volume of coverage, the quality of the coverage was increasing dramatically as well – there was a clear shift in the coverage from news mentions to larger in-depth feature coverage.
In the words of one senior executive at the account review, “the difference is night and day from where we were before.”