Paul Holmes 22 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
SpotLife, a small Silicon Valley start-up, joined with parent company Logitech in June 2000 to donate 400 SpotLife-enabled QuickCam Internet video cameras to a local high school’s graduating class. The goal was to provide the students with a new way to maintain contact with their friends and family after high school. Graduates received the Internet cameras and SpotLife software with their diplomas during the graduation ceremony. This event was successful in garnering local and national print and broadcast attention for the small Internet company, driving thousands of new users to the site.
In early May 2000, SpotLife launched its personal video broadcasting service that gave people the ability to broadcast live or stored audio and video content over the Internet. While web cams and Internet broadcasting had been around for several years, it was a market space cluttered with voyeur-cams and video conferencing. Thus, SpotLife looked to define a new category in this space, challenging people to change the way they communicated, driving market adoption of Personal Video Broadcasting. In order to accomplish this goal, SpotLife planned to aggressively pursue strategic programs with national reach, introducing Personal Video Broadcasting to a broad market, and establishing it as an easy-to-use, affordable, and necessary communication vehicle.
As a young startup operating out of Silicon Valley, SpotLife needed to reach people across the country through a story that made Personal Video Broadcasting relevant to their lives. Because Personal Video Broadcasting is most effectively conveyed through visual means, SpotLife needed a vehicle that would allow them to communicate with the public through broadcast television in particular.
The solution to achieve all of SpotLife’s goals was to participate in a local event in a manner that would resonate on a national level. After considering several branding campaigns, Blanc & Otus Public Relations recommended a plan that would center around a graduating class of 2000 living in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
In order to locate a school that had found a successful way to integrate technology into their curriculum, we researched a number of local high schools and school districts in the Silicon Valley. Also included in our search criteria were the number of seniors who planned to attend college the following year after graduation and the percentage of those students attending schools outside of the immediate area and/or the state. Once we had selected Wilcox High School located in the Santa Clara School District, we met with the superintendent and school administrators to work out the logistics involved with attending the graduation ceremony and making this event a reality.
Our specific objectives for this project included:
- Increasing awareness of the SpotLife service on a national level.
- Defining a new category that literally changes the way people communicate, driving market adoption of Personal Video Broadcasting.
- Demonstrating the ease-of-use of the SpotLife technology.
- Highlighting how SpotLife can help friends and family break down geographic barriers and share life events via personal video broadcasting.
Our primary strategy for this campaign was to interest students from the Class of 2000 to use this new form of technology to maintain visual and audio contact with friends and family living in different parts of the state, the country, or the world. Leading up to the graduation ceremony, we met frequently with teachers and students to prepare for the event and to ensure the success of the program. In these meetings, we identified key students and teachers who were excited about SpotLife, and we planned to use those individuals as references over the course of the year. The students were made available to TV and print media for interviews, and they were profiled in the Video News Release. In addition, we installed a few SpotLife-enabled cameras in the Wilcox computer lab for students to test, and we presented a demonstration of SpotLife in two senior technology courses and to the entire graduating class at their graduation practice.
Through media interviews with Wilcox staff and students, we showed that Wilcox is an institution with a commitment to technology, and it’s a school that cares about its students’ futures – Wilcox and SpotLife are helping families and friends stay in touch. To provide an additional incentive to use the SpotLife software, the webcams and this free technology, SpotLife committed to giving away significant monetary and technology awards to those who agreed to communicate via the SpotLife site.
Our tactics included the following:
- Prior to the graduation ceremony, we met with Wilcox High School and school district administration to obtain their permission and cooperation in making this project a success.
- Visited two senior technology classes, as well as graduation practice to talk with the senior class about the project and elicit their interest in participating.
- Collaborated with SpotLife to produce simple directions and a letter encouraging the students to participate in the project.
- Selected two students and a faculty member from the high school to participate in press interviews and the Video News Release we produced on behalf of the school and the class of 2000.
- Wrote the speech that the school principal read at the graduation ceremony, telling the graduates, their families, and friends about the Class of 2000 project and SpotLife’s involvement.
- Conducted a focused media outreach campaign during the week of graduation– garnering coverage for SpotLife on local television stations and in local print newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Managed multiple television and print interviews after the graduation ceremony with our top-tier local media targets
- Distributed press releases and print photographs of the event directly to additional media interested in covering the event.
To qualify for the prizes, students were required to submit their personal broadcasts on the SpotLife site. The broadcasts that best represented the spirit of the Class of 2000 would be selected by a vote of the current Wilcox faculty. Students who participated in the SpotLife: Class of 2000 program were eligible to win various prizes.
The project generated local and national print coverage that reached a total circulation of 2,801,883, and local and national broadcast coverage that reached more than 16,035,709 viewers. Print coverage included a major piece by the Associated Press that appeared in papers across the country and a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle. Broadcast coverage included stories on each of the local news stations as well as coverage on CNNfn, Fox Cable News, and local stations in cities around the country, including Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The Class of 2000 project drove sustained interest from hundreds of members of the press, delivering placements in Time, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. This continued interest and attention drove SpotLife’s user base from zero to 250,000+ in more than 15 countries in just five-months.