How effective are Press releases

how press release differs from news and how press releases help your business. It also explain how to write press release and example how to press release format
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Published Date:03-07-2017
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TOP 1oo Case Studies in PR Volume 4 Published by PR News Press www.prnewsonline.comTop 100 Case Studies in PR abL t e of ontentcs Chapter One: Anniversaries ............................................................................ 8 A Pro Bono Project Shines Light on Shakespeare Dallas and Reflects Glory on a PR Team ................................ 10 Boundary Dam’s 40th Anniversary Links Seattle City Light to its Rural Community ........................................... 13 PriceWaterhouseCoopers Takes ‘Responsible Leadership’ to a Global Level .......................................................... 15 Making History (Again): Celebration Puts America’s First Settlement in the Spotlight ........................................ 16 Chapter 2: Branding ...................................................................................... 18 e G Th olden Years: In a Gen Y-Focused Age of Talent Management, One Company Begins to Mature ............. 20 Dove Floats to Media Surface by Promoting the Beauty and Confidence of Real Women ................................... 23 Video Gamer Sponsorships Stoke Thirst for an Energy Drink Targeted at New Audiences ................................. 26 Intel Sharpens its Public Prole w fi ith a Commitment to CSR Leadership ............................................................... 29 A Global Media Relations Campaign Puts a Language-Learning Company on the Map ..................................... 31 A&E Network Repositions its Brand with ‘e Re Th covery Project’ ............................................................................ 34 Fueled by Research and Measurement, Shell Oil Rehabilitates a Tainted Image .................................................... 36 Chapter 3: Change Management ................................................................... 40 Transition of Power: Maintaining Brand Strength & Consumer Confidence During an Acquisition ................. 42 e W Th orst Crisis at the Worst Time: Coping with the Death of a Beloved CEO .................................................... 45 A PR Firm Works to Generate and Sustain Media Coverage of a Law Firm in Transition ................................... 47 Emergency Landing: A Potential Hostile Takeover Prompts Proactive PR—and an Unlikely Victory ............... 49 Chapter 4: Community Relations .................................................................. 52 MasterCard Adds PR to the Mix to Enhance Math Education Efforts Among Local Communities ................... 54 A Corporate Citizenship Task Force Gets the Good Word Out for AICPA in North Carolina ............................ 57 An Insurance Giant Preaches Coexistence Among a State’s Divergent Socioeconomic Classes .......................... 59 Tackling Australia’s Drought Gives New Sheen to BlueScope Steel .......................................................................... 61 BT Employees are ‘Community Champions’ ............................................................................................................... 63 Banking on Neighborhoods One at a Time: Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative ................. 65 Chapter 5: Crisis Management ...................................................................... 66 Not All Fun and Games: Mattel’s Toy Recall Redefines Global Crisis Communications ....................................... 68 4 www.prnewsonline.comTop 100 Case Studies in PR A Pro Bono Prject Shine o S light on ShAkeSPeAre DAAS ll AD n reflectS glory on A Pr A te m BY PR NEWS EDITORS hakespeare Dallas’ 35th anniversary was in 2006, but just a few years prior, the company was contem- plating bankruptcy. Meager attendance and fiscal mismanagement had nearly destroyed the theatrical Sproduction company, which had no PR budget or plans. Says Travis Carter, president of Carter Public Relations, “A prior leadership team took the company to the brink of economic ruin. We came to that fork in the road: We could declare bankruptcy and fold up our tents, or we could chart a new course. We chose the right direction, and we are emerging. I have no doubt we will become one of the great success stories in the Dallas arts community.” Carter says “we” because he is Partnership is key, whether it’s the perfect chairman of the board of Shakespeare partnership between agency and client, or the Dallas. Now, the theater company is match between client and corporate sponsor. moving into its 36th year and trying Find an organization that understands PR is an to maintain the momentum from both a PR and business standpoint. investment, not an expense. pr on a shoestring Taking on Shakespeare Dallas presented many challenges, not the least of which was the fact that the company had no money to spend on PR. This meant that the PR campaign would not be billed on a reduced-fee basis; Carter PR would, in fact, conduct it free of charge. Another big challenge is making sure your agency, as a business organization, gives the pro bono client all of the time and attention it deserves. “You have to make it a priority. It’s a commitment that doesn’t come easily,” Travis notes. Early on, Carter PR made a commitment that if it was going to work with Shakespeare Dallas pro bono, it would give it the same level of dedication and creativity and input that it gives to higher paying, corporate clients. “You owe it to the nonprot a fi nd community it serves to do the best job you can.” Promoting an arts organization in Dallas is a very crowded and competitive undertaking. As Carter says, “er Th e are a whole lot of arts organizations competing for the limited amount of ‘space’ that you find here.” Another was the shoestring budget, since Shakespeare Dallas could not ao ff rd to contribute anything financially. Because Carter had an appreciation for the arts and their benefits to the community, he had the interest to overcome challenges. As a board member and later chair, he easily spotted the chink in Shakespeare Dallas’s armor: a dearth of PR funds and planning. “It was a case study in that everything you hope for as a practitioner came to life,” says Carter. “You could see the direct impact on attendance, fundraising and marketing activities, and you could connect all the dots and see that PR, in essence, helped to secure and protect the long-term future of this organization.” Measurement can be a tricky topic in conducting pro bono campaigns. Carter occasionally bristles at the suggestion that a PR firm should evaluate its success in terms of how many hits it has generated for a client. He never uses an ad equivalency model, despite the fact that Shakespeare Dallas’ hit count did go up tenfold following the campaign. The real success in this case lay in the attendance and visibility and fundraising efforts, 10 Chapter 1: AnniversariesTop 100 Case Studies in PR all of which went up measurably. In addition, the company has a debt relief campaign in place, as well as numerous new corporate sponsorships. Pro bono work is expected in a lot of professions, such as law, a field where pro bono projects are monitored and the hours spent are tracked. “We should hold our profession to the same standard,” Carter says, adding that, “selfishly, it provides benefits in terms of the skills learned, relationships made and opportunities it creates.” Among the benefits was the chance to give back in a creative way. “In my experience,” he says, “many nonprots fi lack an understanding of PR and media relations. That’s an area where they typically don’t invest a lot of time or resources. This was about helping them understand PR and achieve their goals in terms of branding and publicity.” Beyond the creative outlets and satisfaction of providing a needed service, working on a pro bono arts campaign gave Carter PR a chance to give back and make a commitment to community. This is something Carter feels all PR practitioners owe, as professionals. With more of an eye to the bottom line, however, pro bono work builds relationships in the community, and builds relationships with reporters. This, in turn, builds the brand of the agency and the PR professionals. In the case of Carter PR, it led to the agency’s being named an overall winner in the Volunteer Center of North Texas’ “Hearts of Hope” award program, which acknowledges outstanding corporate contributions to the arts and community. In addition, the firm earned a Summit Award that recognized the campaign. Another unexpected benet fi for Carter PR was the ability to share an exciting and challenging project with the agency’s younger sta. “ ff What better way could there be to build the skills you need in PR than to get them in on the ground level of an important account?” he asks. “It’s a great way for a young person to cut their teeth on an account that’s important to the agency and to the community.” And finally, he says, working pro bono is “a lot of fun.” Before diving into the waters of pro bono PR work, however, there are some things to consider. First, says Carter, give “serious thought to the commitment. Don’t make that commitment lightly. If you are drawn to that type of opportunity, serve. But commit as much time and energy and dedication to that as you would to any other program. The rewards you see will be well worth the effort.” Carter suggests seeking an organization that really needs the value you will provide as a PR professional. Not every agency needs the kind of attention Carter PR gave to Shakespeare Dallas, but, says Carter, “We found a diamond in the rough. This arts organization had done well in the past, but it had opportunity to do better. One of the things that was missing in its ability to be a well-rounded nonprot wa fi s PR. For us, it was a perfect marriage.” Partnership is key, whether it’s the perfect partnership between agency and client, or the match between client and corporate sponsor. Find an organization that understands PR is an investment, not an expense. Carter PR got buy-in from a board and managers who understood that while the agency would direct PR efforts, it needed their support. “I served on the board for a couple of years before we got involved,” Carter says. “I had always provided some advice and counsel, but it’s one thing to call the plays, and it’s another to help execute them.” Once they took the job on, because so many people compete for the media space, they had to develop and fashion stories that would play with all the media that covered that community. Carter PR pitched stories about different aspects of Shakespeare Dallas to very different types of media. The company tours inner city schools with a small company of actors, who perform 45-minute productions under a program dubbed “Shakespeare on the Go” for kids who have not had much exposure to the arts, and Carter says it was a natural draw for television, as well as for urban publications. finding the right fit for pro bono work For Carter, working for an arts organization was a natural fit because he loved the theater and was already involved with the company. When it is time to search for a pro bono project that will be a good fit for your agency, play to your own passions. “It’s such a huge commitment in terms of time that you have to have a passion for it,” Carter emphasizes. “I’m not sure what we did would have worked with any arts organization.” He recommends looking at your relationships in the community, trying to understand the nonprots a fi nd the role they serve, whether it’s in the arts, education or another field. You have to know the organization before you begin to manage its public relations. Be a part of the fabric of the community and learn what job the organization 11 Chapter 1: AnniversariesTop 100 Case Studies in PR serves, and how it can benefit from improved coverage. Make sure the organization sees PR as Commitment to Community an investment and understands that PR is a key In 2005, Denver-based GroundFloor Media took a desperate phone function. call that would play to one of its strongest missions: community Carter says it’s not hard to find nonprots t fi hat involvement and pro bono work. Agency founder Laura Love is dedicated to helping out whenever possible, and since starting the have an interest in PR, and the best way to start is agency, has devoted 20% of GFM’s work to nonprofit clients and by reaching out. Find out if they currently work pro-bono accounts. with a PR firm, as well as what their needs and interests are. Then you can say you believe they Like Travis Carter of Carter PR in Dallas, Love is a board member of one of her favorite pro bono clients: the Tennyson Center for Children. could benefit from PR and that you are interested In 2005, the Center—which provides a home for more than 500 of in giving back to the community in a different and Colorado’s abused and neglected children—was fighting for its very creative way by assisting them. existence after its parent organization filed for bankruptcy and put the Center’s building up for sale. The potential buyer of the building e r Th elationships Carter PR formed through its wanted to turn it into a for-profit senior center. The toughest efforts in behalf of Shakespeare Dallas were a challenge was the time constraint: the sale was set to close in three benefit they never expected and had not sought. days from the time of the phone call to GroundFloor Media. Carter says, simply, that “good things happen for Love’s PR team swung into immediate action, seeking coverage in good people. As you are establishing your brand at least one local print outlet and one broadcast news outlet. There as a new agency, what better way than to do good? were two goals: to position the center as a casualty of an unnec- You evolve civically.” essary real estate transaction (the parent company did not need the money from the sale in order to pay back its creditors), and to use the Carter PR is involved in a new pro bono campaign, stories of the children served by the center to illustrate its vital role in this time in an effort to defeat a controversial the community and the impact its closing would have. immigration ordinance that has been adopted in a Dallas suburb. “I’m working with members of the Representatives of the Tennyson Center, as well as some of the children and parents, acted as spokespeople to tell the center’s story community to lead a petition drive for a vote on and solicit support. Interviews were set up with local ABC and CBS the ordinance,” he says. affiliates, and the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News (two of the Because of the agency’s past work, Carter PR has a state’s most prominent newspapers) came to the Center to conduct on-site interviews for coverage in their pages. template for future eo ff rts in behalf of Shakespeare Dallas. e Th y have identie fi d key reporters and The team also turned to the power of the Internet to create established relationships. “Now we are preparing awareness that would spread virally. More than 900 people logged for our second act,” he says. “e Th re are so many ‘tier on to the Center’s newly created blog over the three days of the campaign. two’ arts organizations. We are one of the smaller organizations, the ones with an annual budget of a The results? When the deadline arrived, the developer found it had million dollars or less. e Th re are so many vying for not been able to come up with the funds it needed to close on the the attention of the news media here. It’s compet- building, and a friendly bidder was able to step up and buy the Tennyson Center, which is still open and functioning—thanks to the itive, even in the arts e fi ld. And you are running a labors of Love and her PR team. business, even though it’s in the arts.” Carter PR has helped lay a foundation for Shake- speare Dallas from which it can now build as an organization. In turn, the company and agency’s brands are stronger than ever, and their profile and visibility are as high as they have ever been. The theater group has added a fall season to its annual lineup, and atten- dance levels are at an all-time high. In addition, it has a new annual corporate sponsor in the form of Allstate Insurance, which came on this fall. Shakespeare Dallas still has some financial hurdles ahead of it, but now it faces less than 100,000 in debt, where before it was looking at a cool half a million. As a business, it is managing its funds better and has made fiscal management its number one priority. Says Carter, “We are taking our partnerships and finding new ways to leverage them in support of the organi- zation. We brought polish to the brand, as well as visibility for the image of the organization. It had it before, but for years, the rocket was rumbling on the launch pad. Now, it has taken o.ff” PRN 12 Chapter 1: AnniversariesTop 100 Case Studies in PR “Once you find a winning story, keep on pitching it to every city and type of media outlet that’s out there.” —Sue Vitters Howland, VP, Weber Shandwick 18 Chapter 2: BrandingTop 100 Case Studies in PR 2 Branding 19 Chapter 2: BrandingTop 100 Case Studies in PR The Golden Years: In a Gen Y-Focused G a e oF TalenT Mana GM e enT , one M oc anY p BeGIns To Ma Ture BY PR NEWS EDITORS s with many pharmacy retailers, CVS/ pharmacy is experiencing a shortage of Good PR Is Viral PR Apharmacists and pharmacy technicians. And, While working as the director of CVS Caremark’s workforce initiatives, as Baby Boomers continue to hit their 60s and Steve Wing learned a valuable lesson: A good national worker trend contemplate retirement, there may not be enough story can have a powerful cascade effect, which can lead to further young people entering the workforce in the next 10 positive PR for the program that’s being highlighted. years to compensate for this deficit. What’s more, “After we placed our initial stories on CVS Caremark’s mature worker the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected a initiatives with publications such as The Christian Science Monitor, shortfall of 10 million workers in the U.S. in 2010. Time and the Boston Globe, other media outlets began seeing these stories and coming to us to do their own version of the story. In Because of these trends, CVS Caremark (parent effect, the stories we placed were doing the PR for us,” he says. “We owner of CVS/pharmacy) began to launch also proactively used the media clips in our pitches to encourage programs and partnerships designed to recruit, other outlets to do a similar story tailored to their unique audience. train and retain older workers as part of the We made sure we pitched the coverage to outlets that weren’t competitors, such as pitching print stories to broadcast media and company’s workforce initiatives. Especially given trade stories to regional daily newspapers.” today’s ubiquitous focus on challenges related to reaching younger employees—namely, Gen Yers—this nontraditional talent management effort addresses the needs of a generation that is oen o ft verlooked. “The program began as a way for CVS Caremark to further develop a skilled, diverse workforce, while at the same time build stronger communities by employing and training people in the neighborhoods we serve,” explains Steve Wing, director of workforce initiatives, CVS Caremark. “Workforce initiatives establish win-win partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, nonprots a fi nd faith-based organizations.” “Workforce initiatives establish win-win partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, A MAture PersPective nonprofits and faith-based organizations.” Currently, the number of CVS’ mature workers, age 50 and older, has grown from —Steve Wing, director of workforce initiatives, 6% of all employees in the 1990s to more than CVS Caremark 17%, and it is expected to grow even more in the next 10 years. In 2006, as the first members of the Baby Boomer generation began to surpass age 60, various studies were released that analyzed the value of older employees, while examining their plans to keep working past retirement age. Weber Shandwick, which had begun working with CVS on this mature worker program in June 2005, homed in on these studies to use as news hooks to interest the media in not only writing about mature worker trends, but also in highlighting CVS/ pharmacy as a positive workforce leader at the forefront of these trends. To help position CVS as a successful, innovative and responsible employer, particularly where older workers were concerned, Weber Shandwick created the following objectives for the workforce initiative targeting seniors: ■ Build a positive corporate image among the general public, shareholders, customers and employees; 20 Chapter 2: BrandingTop 100 Case Studies in PR ■ Establish CVS as a corporate leader in workforce development; ■ Position CVS as an attractive employer to workers age 50-plus; ■ Gain exposure for the mature worker initiative and other innovative CVS workforce programs targeting seniors; and, ■ Build brand equity for CVS in established markets such as the Northeast and other regions like Florida where the company has grown by acquisition. To meet these goals and prepare for the following year, the CVS Caremark/Weber Shandwick team holds a three- hour planning meeting each year to set goals, objectives and strategies. Additionally, Weber Shandwick holds biweekly calls with CVS to discuss new programs and review tactics as needed. eMPyees lo As PogrAM r sPP okes ersons For the program planning and strategy phase, Weber Shandwick developed core messages around CVS’ workforce training initiatives to attract and retain mature workers. Instead of relying on celebrity spokespersons, the agency set out to find employees who would be good media candidates to bring these stories to life. Aer co ft ntacting regional managers to help find mature workers, Weber Shandwick interviewed them to learn their personal histories. Because many employees are not media savvy, the agency had to get them up to speed to “fully understand the value of PR,” says Wing. And, to give each story a special nuance, the agency sought to exploit the most compelling angle. However, while the personal stories of mature employees who personie fi d the message helped elevate this program, there were still inherent challenges—namely, gaining visibility for the CVS Caremark’s workforce initiatives with a modest annual budget, and targeting the reporters who would be most interested in these stories. Reaching out to them in multiple markets across Match the Pitch to the Media Contact the country was instrumental in getting media For Sue Vitters Howland, VP of Weber Shandwick, attracting the attention. media’s attention to your company’s innovative HR initiatives may have everything to do with the focus of your pitch. To overcome this hurdle, the team leveraged CVS as an AARP Featured Employer (named in “Workforce trends tend to have a broad appeal with the media. November 2005) to tie the CVS stories to a larger Reporters who cover business, employment, education, retail, social workplace trend. Two studies came out in late 2005 issues, etc., are all interested in various angles of workforce stories. So if, for example, you don’t succeed in piquing the interest of the that assisted Weber Shandwick. One, AARP’s “e Th business reporter, then identify an education angle to the story and Business Case for Workers Age 50 plus,” dispelled pitch the education reporter,” she says. the fallacy that workers in this age bracket “cost more” than younger workers. “Additionally, companies often implement workforce initiatives across the organization, and if the company is national, that means en t Th here was the Boston College Center you’ll be able to provide that ever-important local angle for daily on Aging and Work’s study, which states that newspaper reporters across the country. Finally, many organizations traditional retirement, where employees stop release significant studies on national workforce topics. The key is to identify the compelling stories and trends that relate to your working entirely, may never happen for most company’s initiative. Once you find a winning story, keep on pitching Baby Boomers. The report also says that flexible it to every city and type of media outlet that’s out there.” schedules will be key to keeping them working. e co Th mmunications team used these studies as news hooks to gain reporters’ attention. Pitching the v Alue of exPerience This strategy turned out to be highly effective and, in turn, the return on investment was far-reaching. From January to December 2006 alone, the campaign highlighting CVS/pharmacy’s mature worker initiatives generated 38 articles and 36,361,858 media impressions, plus significant online exposure in leading national, regional and trade outlets. During 2006 and 2007, the communications team secured about 200 million impres- sions, and they are currently working to increase that number for 2009, according to Sue Vitters Howland, VP of Weber Shandwick. 21 Chapter 2: BrandingTop 100 Case Studies in PR e p Th ositive coverage helped CVS/pharmacy to recruit more mature workers on its own and place individuals in positive career paths. CVS/ pharmacy also grew its mature worker program from fewer than 300 employees to more than 1,000 in 2006. “e co Th verage also helps to show current employees, customers and shareholders the ways in which CVS is a leader in workforce devel- opment,” says Howland. For Wing, there were several lessons learned from working on this program. “In terms of maintaining a dialogue between the agency and our workforce initiatives field Part-time pharmacist Bill Duclos, 81, helps a customer find cold medicine at teams, we quickly learned that it was helpful to a CVS store. Duclos says that the flexibility of CVS/pharmacy’s mature worker have our agency draft regular e-mails for the program is the main reason he has remained working past the traditional field reminding them to send in story ideas,” he retirement age. notes. “Sometimes one tidbit of information isn’t newsworthy on its own, but when added to information received from other field sta, i ff t turns into an inter - esting trade story for the media. During the past several years, my field staff has recognized the value in sending ideas to the agency, and now they regularly send ideas to Weber Shandwick without any prompting.” Also, learning how to craft and execute a PR program on limited funds was another lesson learned. “It is possible to obtain significant top-tier national media coverage on a modest budget—but it takes some creativity,” adds Wing. “Weber Shandwick did this by leveraging news hooks and third-party stories to develop broader trend pitches. Trend stories are a great way to obtain coverage with the top-tier national media. When you are the one to introduce the media to a compelling new trend, they will oen r ft eward you by making your company the centerpiece of the story.” PRN 22 Chapter 2: BrandingTop 100 Case Studies in PR “With a well-run, speedy, integrated campaign which uses every PR tool in the toolbox, you can succeed.” —Kathy Jeavons, SVP, public affairs, Ketchum 40 Chapter 3: Change ManagementTop 100 Case Studies in PR 3 Change Management 41 Chapter 3: Change ManagementTop 100 Case Studies in PR TransiTion of Power: MainT aining Brand sTrengTh & ConsuMer ConfidenCe during an C a uisiT q ion BY PR NEWS EDITORS eriods of transition around mergers and acquisitions present innumerable challenges Communicating During an Acquisition: Pfor organizations, especially when a primary goal is to retain a brand’s relevance and promi- Increase Your Profile nence in the marketplace. To maintain longstanding, fruitful relationships with consumers, Such was the dilemma faced by SurfControl, a advertisers and stakeholders during an acquisition, Citigate Cunningham’s executive vice president Melissa Sheridan offers these leading provider of global on-demand, network best practices on how to keep your brand relevant: and endpoint IT security solutions, in early 2007, at which point speculation was running amok • Continue speaking to the media: It’s crucial to act as if business is in the Silicon Valley pipeline that Websense, a operating as usual. “Have execs hold briefings with editors-in-chief and editorial influencers so that they can be seen as still on scene— security software company headquartered in San still relevant and contributing value to the industry.” Diego, would be purchasing the company. Sure enough, on April 26, 2007, rumors crystallized into • Map out a significant news calendar: Make sure you have a “steady reality when Websense announced a formal oer ff drumbeat of news” to announce to the media. When Sheridan worked on the campaign with SurfControl, she and her colleagues to acquire its rival. The acquisition would span six were always reviewing what SurfControl had in the news pipeline in months and was officially closed on October 3, terms of customer wins and partnership announcements. 2007. • Package the brand for industry honors: This is key to generating To foster a strong corporate image and maintain its further attention for the brand. “We submitted a lot of industry network of business relationships with customers awards,” says Sheridan. “SurfControl’s products were always well- and partners during the transition, SurfControl regarded. We wanted to make sure that they would remain the same partnered with Citigate Cunningham, an agency within the same timeframe.” that specializes in working with Silicon Valley clients, during this period of uncertainty. It helped that SurfControl already had a working relationship with Citigate Cunningham. “We worked with them a year before the acquisition by Websense,” says Melissa Sheridan, executive vice president, Citigate Cunningham. “e Th y came to us and said, ‘We want to make sure our customers don’t leave us. We need to reassure them that we have leadership and are relevant—sort of we’re continuing business as usual.’” Citigate Cunningham executives recommended that the SurfControl team resume aggressive actions with media and analysts to drive the company’s overall objectives during the six months leading up to the closing date. These objectives included: ■ Inspiring confidence in the installed base of customers to stimulate renewals; ■ Raising SurfControl’s profile in the channel communicating that SurfControl was still in the game and was expanding its programs; and, ■ Elevating SurfControl’s leadership as a company. Aer W ft ebsense announced its intent to acquire SurfControl, Citigate Cunningham strategically targeted the top influencers that mattered most to the company’s customers, partners and the industry at large, including business, technology trade, security-specific and channel press, industry analysts and new media. focus on success and commitment To support SurfControl’s objectives, Citigate Cunningham developed three major programs: 1. Own the channel press to demonstrate ongoing leadership and commitment to partners; 2. Create a customer success spotlight to stimulate sales and retention; 42 Chapter 3: Change ManagementTop 100 Case Studies in PR 3. Flesh out the overall leadership platform to boost company morale and industry confidence. For the channel press program, the tactics Citigate Cunningham developed that would map back to the overall objectives included: ■ Placing partner case studies in target channel publications; ■ Submitting SurfControl’s channel executives for channel-specific awards to raise the company’s profile in the channel; and, ■ Establishing relationships and strengthening existing bonds with top-tier channel press as well as targeted analysts resulting in high-quality channel coverage. For the customer success spotlight, Citigate Cunningham focused on placing customer case study placements in top trade and security outlets, and securing speaking opportunities at a major industry event. Finally, for the leadership platform component, Citigate Cunningham set out to the following: ■ Secure one-on-one briefings with top-tier business publications; ■ Secure in-person and phone briefings with editorial and analyst influencers leading up to the SurfControl Email Filter 6.0 product announcement; ■ Target product reviewers around key products and announcement; ■ Forge relationships with key bloggers and garner coverage through new media channels such as podcasts; ■ Submit SurfControl and executives for prestigious industry awards; and, ■ Place a bylined column for the CEO in security-specific outlets. Pausing to Regain P omc R osu e But not all went smoothly. Initially, SurfControl Maintain Media Relationships did not want to speak to the press, says Rosemary For the Citigate Cunningham team that worked on keeping the Wilson, senior account manager at Citigate SurfControl brand relevant and alive during its acquisition by Cunningham. This “dark period” began in Websense, there were several key lessons learned, much of which February 2007, when speculation that Websense had to do with being media-friendly while knowing how to artfully may acquire SurfControl was burning up the deflect certain issues. Following are four major points: Silicon Valley grapevine. When Websense did ■ Being a go-to resource for the press on issues (the impact of social announce its intent to acquire SurfControl in April networking on enterprise IT security, sudden shifts in malware, etc.) 2007, the silence ended. is always a good way to generate buzz. “e Th y were ready to resurface visibility again and ■ A survey on a timely, compelling issue can be a great way to start talking to the press,” Wilson says. “e Th y garner high-profile coverage while turning attention away from wanted to create and direct clear messaging that unwanted speculation or a controversial issue. (For example, they were there for customers and SurfControl had SurfControl commissioned a survey on Trust & Risk in the Workplace maintained their strong control.” and leveraged the data to secure top tier, positive coverage in publications like Investor’s Business Daily.) However, the acquisition, coupled with the “dark period,” made SurfControl feel apprehensive and ■ A key strategy is having from day one solid media and analyst anxious about openly engaging with the media in relationships in place, so that influencers have the context on the the wake of the Websense news developments. To company’s strategy. This helps when you hit a bumpy patch. allay their nerves, the Citigate Cunningham team ■ Leveraging third-party advocates such as partners and customers canceled a few early meetings to carefully coach as spokespeople really lends credibility to the company’s relevance. SurfControl execs in the art of media relations—a decision that doesn’t always come easily when reporters come calling. But it served the team well; when this phase was finished, the team switched gears and ramped up communications efforts immediately “without having a lot of momentum behind it.” Yet as with the case of most corporate takeovers, the team had to deal with organizational shifts at the top of the SurfControl leadership, which included a few VIPs—though the CEO remained. 43 Chapter 3: Change ManagementTop 100 Case Studies in PR e le Th adership vacuum “did create a challenge,” notes Sheridan. “We went in and had to start with ground zero and build relationships with the new execs and say, ‘This is what we did in the past and this is how we can accomplish that.’” Fortunately, the new execs had confidence in the agency. “We were able to get results that mapped back to the communications strategy that we recommended,” Wilson says. uccessful s succession Citigate Cunningham’s efforts to keep the SurfControl brand relevant during the period of acquisition were a resounding success. Citigate Cunningham’s SurfControl team. Pictured (left to right) Candice Huang, “e a Th gency never failed to accommodate a request,” Rosemary Wilson and Melissa Sheridan. says Michelle Fleschute, former PR manager at SurfControl. “e Th y provided and successfully executed on strategic campaigns and programs that elevated SurfControl during our acquisition. Citigate Cunningham’s deep industry expertise, creative ideas and flawless execution turned the acquisition period into a time of success for the company, which helped made SurfControl a legacy in the industry.” PRN - 44 Chapter 3: Change Management