PR Play of the Week: If Bill bills it, then writers will buy it

Bill Gates' keynote speech at Comdex is one of the most highly anticipated events in the technology media calendar.

Bill Gates' keynote speech at Comdex is one of the most highly anticipated events in the technology media calendar.

Bill Gates' keynote speech at Comdex is one of the most highly anticipated events in the technology media calendar.

So when Gates chose to introduce Ralph Lauren's new e-commerce site, polo.com, in the middle of his media address, integrated marketing agency Shepardson, Stern and Kaminsky (SS+K) could not have asked for better synergy.

SS+K, which brought in former Gates speechwriter Greg Shaw as a partner in September, counts both Microsoft and Polo Ralph Lauren as clients.

Shaw was general manger for corporate public relations at Microsoft.

About 20 minutes into his speech, Gates focused on companies that use Windows 2000 and then introduced David Lauren, Ralph Lauren's son, who is chief creative officer at polo.com.

In a great demonstration of how to reach new audiences, the Gates endorsement allowed the apparel firm to be heard by a new market of technology writers, and also helped fulfill Microsoft's aim of bringing its story to more consumer-focused media.

SS+K PR VP, Jonathan Kopp, explained that the agency held some advance briefings with the media to let them know about the Lauren appearance.

Kopp said the media usually refuses to write about new Web sites until they've seen them. In this case the Gates mention helped fuel interest in polo.com's launch the Friday before Comdex (November 12-17).

Lauren held a series of online interviews with ZDNet, CNET and WSJ.com as well as other mainstream interviews.

Kopp said: 'The Comdex event will benefit us in the long term because now we have some footage with Gates that will pay PR dividends for some time.'



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