Zappos, Amazon take low-key media relations approach on deal

SEATTLE: Zappos plans to do more media outreach surrounding its sale to Amazon following the SEC-mandated "quiet period," said Kel Kelly, founder/CEO of the company's AOR Kel & Partners.

SEATTLE: Zappos plans to do more media outreach surrounding its sale to Amazon following the SEC-mandated "quiet period," said Kel Kelly, founder/CEO of the company's AOR Kel & Partners.

Kelly told PRWeek the current plan is to have CEO Tony Hsieh or company COO/CFO Alfred Lin speak to the media following the quiet period. She said her agency is handling the "tsunami" of media inquiries surrounding the deal. But all media requests are being deferred until the SEC-required "quiet period" is lifted, which is expected to happen later this week. So far, Zappos has only responded to the deal by posting Hsieh's e-mail to his staff on the company blog. While most of the comments on the blog were positive, some posters expressed concern that the acquistion would change the popular brand.

“After the quiet period is lifted, Zappos will speak more about the company's plan and the outlook following the acquistion,” Kel said.

She added that her agency expects to remains on board and recently expanded its scope of work with the online retailer. K&P was selected as Zappos' AOR last year following a competitive bid. This month it began work on the retailer's sister site 6pm.com.

Prior to the acquistion, the agency was “focused on helping Zappos expand their media coverage beyond the business press and do more with consumer media,” Kelly said. “We've also been helping them grow their brand awareness beyond shoes.”

Amazon issued a press release on the deal, but is garnering more attention for the grainy, 8-minute video of CEO Jeff Bezos discussing Amazon's history and how Zappos fits in with its culture. But Craig Berman, VP of communications at Amazon, told PRWeek the video was intended solely for Zappos employees and not for the media.

“I've been doing media interviews with the core messages that are in the press release,” Berman said. This includes, “Zappos has a unique culture and will remain independent. We have lots of opportunities to learn from each other," he added.

Amazon works with Waggener Edstrom for its media products and OutCast Communications for some digital efforts. But communications surrounding the deal were handled internally, Berman said. Bezos has not yet been available for media interviews and Berman declined to stay whether this will change.

Even though some media reports mocked Bezos' video and his absence from last week's analyst call during its Q2 earnings report, Sam Whitmore, editor of Media Survey, called the response from both sides “masterful” for the way it played on the strengths of both CEOs.

“Bezos is more of an animated personality, so the video was a good medium,” Whitmore noted. “And [Hsieh] is more of a verbal guy and that was captured in the cool cynicism of his post.”

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