Comms focus helps MobiTV tell its story

MobiTV has inked deals with the likes of Yahoo and NBC - and is relying on PR to spread the news

MobiTV has inked deals with the likes of Yahoo and NBC - and is relying on PR to spread the news

Things have been quite busy at MobiTV lately. Jason Taylor, director of corporate communications, says the eight-year-old Emeryville, CA-based company recently hit a significant milestone by surpassing 2 million subscribers internationally. It also entered a number of partnerships designed to extend the brand and its offerings.

And the company, which currently does not work with an ad agency, is relying heavily on PR to spread the word and tell its many stories. "PR is the best opportunity to market our service as we support our carrier and content partners," Taylor says. "In any new industry, PR is usually the number-one driver of demand for any new product or service. It's definitely worked well for us."

Taylor says up until he joined the company a year and a half ago, it never had an internal PR person. There are currently two people on the internal staff, and Taylor expects to double that by June 1.

MobiTV is a content and platform provider for broadband and mobile live TV distribution. It currently offers more than 100 channels, supports 175 handsets around the globe, and is deployed by more than 25 carriers worldwide.

This past March, MobiTV also announced the formation of a new mobile advertising alliance through a partnership with Yahoo, making the search engine the ad network partner for MobiTV's mobile video ad sales and delivery. The other partnership, also announced in March, was with NBC Universal. Through that union, consumers will have on-demand wireless access to NBC shows, including Friday Night Lights, The Office, and Heroes.

Steven Astle, SVP of Fleishman-Hillard, MobiTV's AOR for the past eight months, says instead of using costly traditional marketing campaigns or one-off events to promote any or all of these announcements, the company relied on media relations efforts to concurrently tell those stories to a number of different audiences through various outlets.

"They decided to use that 2 million subscriber milestone to tell the larger story to the media about where they were, in relation to where they are going, and why their model has been so successful," Astle says. "These are things they cannot do with traditional marketing campaigns."

In promoting the other announcements, Astle says the goal was to target a wide range of media.

"We talked to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety about what all this means for Hollywood," he says. "And at the same time, we can talk to the wireless trade media and Wireless Week, and talk about what it means for that industry that there's real critical mass around this technical platform. And we talked to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and BusinessWeek about what it means for business in general. With PR, we can conduct conversations with multiple audiences in their preferred media."

Astle says the agency also does a lot of conference and event support. "Our work is heavily focused on positioning," he notes. "In this industry, there are a lot of major conferences. We help set up interviews and go over talking points with them to prepare."

Astle, who leads the MobiTV account for Fleishman, says the agency is also working on keeping MobiTV and its executives top of mind among journalists with an interest in the industry.

"PR can change direction quickly, respond to what's happening in the industry, and create thought leadership for MobiTV," Astle says. "So they are not only market leaders in terms of market share, but also in terms of thought leadership. MobiTV can stay engaged in all these industry discussions."

Similar to all other tech-based industries, the mobile TV segment changes at a rapid pace, and issues of concern can change numerous times within a month. Astle feels that's another primary reason behind PR's effectiveness for MobiTV.

"One month it might be a technical hot button or tech standards that are being debated. The next month it might be about content and what's Hollywood doing regarding the emergence of mobile media," Astle says. "It really switches back and forth, and PR is well-suited to that highly dynamic environment.

"The tide shifts so quickly, it makes sense for MobiTV to spend its budget on PR," he adds. "It is a real illustration of the way the world is changing. We are all struggling to figure out how we can drive the discussion. The company invested a marcomms budget in PR. What is interesting is it did this for a good reason - the mobile TV market is so fast-moving, and only PR is suited to keep pace with that."

At a glance

Company:
MobiTV

CEO:
Dr. Phillip Alvelda

Headquarters:
Emeryville, CA

Competitors:
MediaFLO USA

PR Budget:
undisclosed

Key trade titles:
The Hollywood Reporter, WirelessWeek, RCR Wireless, Variety, Billboard, Advertising Age, Entertainment Weekly, Adweek, TelevisionWeek, Mediaweek

MarComms Team:
Brent Bamberger, VP of marketing
Jason Taylor, director of corporate communications
Nicole Rodrigues, PR manager

MarComms Agency:
PR Agency: Fleishman-Hillard

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