Paul Holmes 04 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
In November 2000, Text 100 proactively researched the Upside Showcase event as a possible venue for its Xerox Office Systems Group client to host a sneak preview of a not yet announced product called the Xerox Document Appliance. As part of it’s ongoing campaign to educate audiences on the continuing innovation at Xerox, Text 100 looked to target the maximum number of key media. After researching Showcase, Text 100 concluded that the event was the optimum opportunity for Xerox to provide a pre-brief on the product and help seed the technology marketplace for the upcoming Document Appliance announcement. Text 100 and Xerox saw this as an opportunity to prove to this technology-focused audience that Xerox is no longer just a box company. Xerox had never before participated in the Showcase event, yet the opportunity to interact with such high caliber journalists was the key motivator for Text 100 to make the recommendation to Xerox to participate.
Produced by Jesse Berst (technology journalist, industry pundit and editorial director of ZDNET AnchorDesk), Showcase is highly regarded for introducing the industry’s hottest new companies, products and technologies. The audience of Showcase is comprised of journalists, industry analysts and venture capitalists --not end users/customers. The conference is designed to focus on the "best and brightest new products in the industry" and the two-day format focuses on show-and-tell demonstrations. One-on-one meetings are discouraged so that attendees can focus on all products and participate in general sessions and stage demonstrations. The number of participants is kept to a minimum and potential demonstrators must submit an application that describes the product intended to be shown.
Xerox Office Systems Group was one of just 82 companies handpicked by Showcase to participate.
Conference objectives were met and the expectations for results were exceeded when the Document Appliance was nominated for a Best of Show award and won 1st runner up (2nd place). It's important to note that the award nominations and voting took place by the attending journalists, journalists who have traditionally not viewed Xerox as an innovative company. Judging criteria included: user friendliness of product, uniqueness, how well the demonstrator explained the product, relevance to industry niche, how well the product meets needs of target customer and branding. This is truly an honor from a very critical audience, and it will provide excellent third-party recognition to support the upcoming announcement of the product.
A Real Long Shot: While researching past participants—companies such as Motorola StarTac, ReplayTV, and Driveway—it became obvious that Showcase focused on new and/or edgy high-tech companies. Often viewed as a stodgy “box” company, Xerox would be an unexpected entry and most likely a “long shot” for being selected. Even so, Text 100 believed Showcase to be an optimum opportunity for Xerox to demonstrate to Upside’s audience that it is an innovative company in the development of leading edge software products.
Pitching The Client: Having never participated in the event before, Xerox needed to be convinced of the merits of the opportunity and the resulting benefits. In addition, the Document Appliance had not yet been announced and there was not an initial comfort level with demonstrating to the press. Prone to follow the more traditional PR tactics, the client was skeptical at first.
In gathering research to determine if the level of media relations the Office Systems Group was after would be available at the event, Text 100 tapped several resources to gather information.
Held conversations the Showcase staff to determine participation levels and attendees.
The Text 100 Rochester office reached out to its other North American offices to determine who had supported the conference in the past and what the media results were. This input was invaluable as it helped determine the initial recommendation to Xerox for its level of participation.
Executive support was scheduled and Text 100 briefed the person on the purpose of the show and what level of media interest to expect. Text 100 ensured the attending Xerox executives could provide a compelling overview of the Xerox Document appliance, including a competitive overview. A briefing book was prepared and kept on hand at Showcase.
Press materials were created to support Xerox’s presence. This proved to be a bit tricky since the Document Appliance was not yet announced and was not being announced at this conference. It was determined to position the demonstration to attendees as a “sneak preview.” Documentation was created to support this and press packets were brought to the show.
Text 100 supported Xerox on site for press engagements.
Participation in the event was based on the opportunity to get face time with the attending press – a set of media normally difficult for Xerox to reach out to from a product perspective, such as 451.com, CIO, eCompany Now, PC World, Forbes, InfoWorld, DigitalDuo, and CNBfn/CNN. The objectives were as follows:
Provide a sneak preview of Document Appliance to validate messages and help seed the marketplace for the official announcement. Educate key media about the benefits of the Document Appliance.
Change perceptions about Xerox's perceived image as "just a box company".
Objective 1: Provide in-person demonstrations and interface with as many attending journalists as possible, taking advantage of all opportunities, such as the demonstrator exhibition, general sessions and social events. Develop press materials that position the Document Appliance demonstration as a sneak preview and that highlight Xerox as a competitive and innovative company.
Objective 2: The endorsement of being handpicked by the Showcase committee would be the initial proof point that Xerox is more than a box company and can hold its own in the fellowship of high-tech edgy companies. In addition, interface with as many attending journalists as possible using that time to discuss the innovation behind the Document Appliance and discuss the direction of Xerox in general.
EVALUATION OF RESULTS
The objectives of Xerox’s participation in the Upside’s Showcase were clearly met:
Objective 1: At Showcase, attendees’ time is almost completely occupied from the show’s start until its conclusion, therefore 1:1 meetings are highly discouraged. However, Xerox/Text 100 was able to share information with editors at the Xerox kiosk and other venues. Editors from the following publications were briefed: 451.com, Accenture (Anderson Consulting), CIO, Innovative Electronics Review, PC World, PC Magazine, Seattle Times, Seybold Publications, Amy D. Wohl’s Opinions, and Ziff Davis Media. This select list represents the media that attended the show. Because the Document Appliance was positioned as a pre-brief, no coverage is expected until after the official announcement.
Objective 2: Many people attending the conference were interested to see what Xerox was demonstrating at Showcase. At the end of the conference, The Document Appliance was awarded first runner-up Best of Show. The combination of our presence and the best of show award demonstrated to this critical audience that Xerox can and does compete with “hot” start-ups.