Paul Holmes 17 Apr 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Xylo, a leading provider of Web-based work/life solutions used by Fortune 500 companies to attract and retain employees, challenged MWW/Savitt to increase awareness of the company’s new name and brand by rapidly gaining traction with the top tier national business and trade media. MWW/Savitt created The Xylo Report, a signature communications vehicle that differentiates the company from its competition and reinforces the company’s leadership position by creating exclusive news each month about the opinions of America’s workers on a variety of work/life issues. Since the inaugural report for Labor Day 2000, The Xylo Report regularly generates interest and coverage in nationally renowned outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, and NPR, as well as in the human resource industry’s top publications, such as HR Reporter, HR Magazine and HR Executive. In addition to coverage about The Xylo Report, this new communications vehicle created new interest in Xylo, the company, resulting in executive profiles in outlets, such as Fast Company, and authored articles in leading HR trade magazines.
Challenges and Opportunities
Xylo, formerly known as employeesavings.com, started early in the work/life movement by creating Web-based solutions for Seattle-based Microsoft and Boeing. That experience enabled the company to rapidly scale its operations and succeed in securing other Fortune 500 firms as clients. Early in 2000, the space became very crowded and highly competitive. Xylo had to quickly stakeout their existing share of market and begin to focus more on clearly marketing the company as compared to just selling the product. Simultaneously, the work/life issue began to lose its luster for the media. The need for work/life solutions was clear, the solutions from each of the companies were similar, and all of the obvious story angles were “old news.” Xylo embarked on a path to change their identity and brand, speed up their product development cycle, and more aggressively establish their leadership. MWW/Savitt was hired as their public relations firm to help them establish the new brand using media relations and other strategic public relations tactics.
PLANNING PROCESS AND STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVES
MWW/Savitt embarked on an aggressive effort to rapidly learn about the industry. The account team reviewed all existing industry analyst reports and other research available from the client. In addition, the team reviewed and analyzed the competitive situation, and existing media coverage. The team also participated with the client in their branding process, enabling the team to have first-hand knowledge of the client’s new brand, positioning and messaging. Using this information, the team was able to develop strategic plans to capitalize on industry events, launch the new brand, and create The Xylo Report.
The objectives established for the MWW/Savitt team by Xylo were to:
- Create awareness for the new Xylo brand; and
- Generate strong traction and coverage of Xylo by top tier national business and trade media.
THE STRATEGIC APPROACH
To break through the barrier of media disinterest in work/life issues and solutions, MWW/Savitt needed to help Xylo create topical and timely news that would, on it’s own, attract the attention of national reporters. This “news” would need to communicate Xylo’s new positioning and validate the company’s leadership of the work/life category.
MWW/Savitt understood that new data, trends and research are always of interest to the media, and that research, if properly utilized, could be used as a platform to lift Xylo above its competition to a position of leadership. It would enable Xylo to be the first to identify and talk about new trends or research. It would create opportunities to talk about exclusive information that only Xylo possessed. If properly structured, the research would confirm that Xylo had a finger on the pulse of the American worker and therefore, was best suited to develop and create work/life solutions for America’s largest companies. The research would need to stand up to the highest level of scrutiny and be perceived as reliable and trustworthy. A professional and respected national research firm would best address these needs.
MWW/Savitt contacted Wirthlin Worldwide, a nationally respected and leading research firm to discuss partnering with Xylo to create an ongoing research program for use as a publicity and branding tool. Each month, the MWW/Savitt team, in collaboration with Xylo and Wirthlin, identify a new area for research, such as the use of the Web at work. Then, Wirthlin surveys more than 1,000 workers about the subject. The information is then analyzed and compiled into a press release and fact sheet. The release is distributed to the media during the third week of each month using a national wire service, and also sending the materials to specifically targeted reporters and media outlets. The release is also made available on Xylo’s Web site along with a more detailed fact sheet from the survey results.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
The Xylo Report has been a major success. Starting with the inaugural report on Labor Day 2000, the report has been steadily covered by the leading national media and major HR trade publications. Currently, more than 315 articles have appeared. The media coverage of the space, according to our competitive tracking efforts, demonstrates the dominance of Xylo by showing inclusion in most articles.
According to Xylo, usage of their site by employees, as measured by unique visitors and time spent on site has increased over 300 percent. (The sites are password protected and unique to each client company; therefore unique visits can only be conducted by employees of companies who have Xylo sites.) In addition, Xylo’s client base has expanded tremendously and rapidly, signing as many as five new clients each month.
The use of The Xylo Report has been expanded beyond media relations. It is now also used as a value-added service to existing customers. Visitors to Xylo exhibits at trade shows can sign up to be on the mailing list for all future reports. The research data is used in sales presentations and speaking engagements. And most importantly to MWW/Savitt, the client deems The Xylo Report to be a major success and one of the key reasons that the company has achieved so much success in 2000 and is well poised to continue strong performance in 2001.