CAMPAIGNS: Police trials raise Steria recognition - Technology

Client: Steria PR Team: Brodeur Worldwide Campaign: Facial recognition software Timescale: April-August 2003 Budget: part of a six-figure retainer

Since French IT firm Steria broke into the IT market in the UK through its purchase of established firm Integris last year, it has had to create a new brand name for itself.

Earlier this year, a contract with Grampian Police for its pioneering new facial recognition technology, which can identify suspects in minutes instead of months, provided an opportunity to raise the firm's profile.

Retained agency Brodeur Worldwide was alerted to the story's potential and was asked to co-ordinate a campaign to raise awareness.

Objectives

To raise awareness in the media of Steria as a supplier of IT services in a market dominated by global brands. To demonstrate the firm's IT solutions ability through a technological breakthrough being tested in the UK, for the first time, by Grampian Police.

Strategy and Plan

One challenge the agency faced was ensuring that the omnipresence of terrorism in the media did not mean the campaign was seen as an 'ambulance chaser'.

Brodeur therefore chose to highlight the product's pedigree, which includes being used to protect world leaders, such as US President George Bush, at the APEC summit in Mexico in October last year.

Brodeur was also able to play on the futuristic nature of the software.

Broadcasters were supplied with strong visual material that contained a 'storyboard' of a proposed three-to-four minute news broadcast on how the technology worked. Broadcasters, including Sky News and BBC Scotland, were also invited into Grampian Police headquarters, where they saw the technology in action and had the chance to interview the force's spokespeople.

The agency pre-briefed selected media in time for the coverage to break simultaneously on the morning the press release was issued.

Measurement and Evaluation

Reports on the breaking news, the technology and comments from Steria experts and Grampian Police ran across broadcast, national papers, trade and specialist publications in print and online. Coverage included Sky News, BBC1, Scotland News, BBC Online, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Scotland, FT.com, The Guardian, The Herald, Computing, IT Week, Computer Headline Scotland, and Biometric Technology Today.

Results

Steria has received enquiries from several police forces regarding its biometric products in the days following the campaign.

The coverage hit at the same time as a direct mail piece on biometrics produced by Steria's marketing department. As a result, sales leads were directly generated and are in the pipeline going in to 2004.

The bulk of the media coverage also mentioned Steria's name.

Computing journalist Sarah Arnott said the story worked because it focused on the benefits to Grampian Police and the community. 'Steria is not a big name in the IT market, so the story was good for us because it was customer focused. We were able to talk to Grampian Police about the benefits derived from using the technology,' she said.

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