CAMPAIGN: Web site PR - Not all that's fucked is fucked

Client: Fuckedcompany.com (New York, NY)

Client: Fuckedcompany.com (New York, NY)

Client: Fuckedcompany.com (New York, NY)

PR Team: RLM Public Relations (New York, NY)

Campaign: Fuckedcompany Launch

Time Frame: June 1999-September 2000

Budget: About dollars 45,000



Playing on the rising backlash of dot-com hysteria, 24-year-old Web designer Philip Kaplan launched Fuckedcompany.com on a lark for friends in the industry last May. However, news of the quirky Web site, which posts rumors about failing Internet start-ups and enables visitors to predict which ones will crumble next, spread like wildfire throughout the on-line world and leaked into media circles.

As daily traffic climbed into the thousands and reporters began calling, Kaplan realized that his site had the potential to be used as a serious resource and to showcase his design firm, PK Interactive. To make sure Fuckedcompany.com was portrayed as a more than just an inside joke, Kaplan hired RLM Public Relations.



Strategy

RLM account executive Michael Prichinello says, 'Our goal was to build on the momentum and get journalists to check their preconceived notions at the door, showing them that lawyers, VCs and even journalists were using this site for leads and to make business decisions. Also, we wanted to shed light on PK Interactive.'

RLM followed a two-tiered strategy. Market reporters and editors at business and financial media such as CBS Marketwatch, The Economist and The Daily Deal were targeted first. 'We went to the writers who could see the effect this site was having on the markets and the impact its news could have on investors' financial decisions,' explains Prichinello.

Next, RLM took the pop culture angle, introducing Fuckedcompany.com to consumer publications and media outlets, such as Details, Raygun, Rolling Stone and MSNBC, as an amusing commentary on the growing dot-com backlash.

RLM was careful to craft the correct image around Kaplan, ensuring he was portrayed as a serious businessman and a brilliant creative talent, not just a scrappy kid running an irreverent Web site.



Tactics

With limited time and lots of ground to cover, RLM took the most direct route: phone calls and e-mails to key journalists.

One of the main challenges in selling the story was the site's name.

Wary of printing a profanity, many outlets were perplexed at how to reference the site. 'I told them to use their stars ... after a while, they all started to get over it,' says Prichinello. He had heard from one journalist who said he would get in trouble with his company if he even typed in the URL. 'I had to get him the numerical code for the URL so that his company wouldn't think he was visiting dirty sites.'

As evidence of Kaplan's intellectual acuity, 'we told reporters how he convinced his high school to allow him to study computer programming as a foreign language,' says Prichinello. 'In all the photos we made sure (he) was dressed in Armani and appeared understated and mature,' notes Prichinello. RLM also played up the fact that Kaplan is primarily a successful Web designer and business owner.



Results

More than 700 clips were generated within three months. The site made the front of USA Today's 'Money' section and scored features in the Daily Deal, Forbes and The Economist. Rolling Stone's 'Hot List' named the site best Web destination of the year, and stories appeared in Playboy and Newsweek, among others.

Traffic to the site rose dramatically every time a major article hit - climbing to 300,000 visitors per day.

Kaplan, who has since become somewhat of an expert on issues regarding the dot-com economy, says, 'Within a month, I was in every magazine I have ever heard of and some that I hadn't. The coverage has been great for PK Interactive's reputation; we have more business than we can take on right now.'



Future

RLM's goal of getting Fuckedcompany.com off on the right foot was wrapped up in just over three months. Neither PK Interactive nor Fuckedcompany.com has any other PR initiatives in place at the moment.



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