NetZero works with AP to tell 'Joe and Jane America' about 4G mobile broadband

NetZero targeted those who didn't realize how affordable mobile broadband could be.

Name
Christine Bock, senior partner/mobile and telecom practice leader, Finn Partners

Placement
Associated Press, March 19

Pitch timeline
Three weeks

Who is your client and what are its media goals?
United Online is the owner of NetZero, which became well-known in the 1990s with free, ad-supported dial-up Internet access.

The company was launching a 4G mobile broadband service and turned to us to drive broad consumer awareness by targeting top-tier tech, business, and general consumer outlets.

The Associated Press is a high-profile news service, so what made it ideal for this campaign as opposed to a tech-centric outlet ? How did you pitch reporter Peter Svensson?
United Online chairman and CEO Mark Goldston's objective was to reach "Joe and Jane America,'" the people who didn't understand mobile broadband and felt they could not afford it.

We immediately focused on AP as the best way to do that because of its syndication reach. We had worked with their personal tech writer Peter Svensson in the past and pitched him an exclusive so his story would come out just as our launch press release did.

NetZero has a good rebirth story, but it is not a new brand. Did that present a challenge in generating interest?
Yes, but we were able to highlight the fact that NetZero has been alive and kicking - and profitable - for the last decade, with a huge installed base that still includes a number of dial-up customers. That made the move into affordable mobile broadband a natural extension of the business.

We also provided plenty of background information to Svensson and set up a lengthy interview with Goldston.

What was the hit's impact?
The AP story was quickly picked up across the country by more than 170 outlets, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Yahoo, MSNBC, Newsday, Bloomberg Business-week, and NPR.org. The cov-erage also triggered a lot of inbound media calls requesting a product to review.

We had also done outreach to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, so their NetZero pieces came out the same week as the release. Meanwhile, USA Today ran both the AP story and their own second piece the next day.

With the placement in AP having a major role, we reached nearly a billion impressions in the first week.

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