Psion is famous for its personal organisers, but industry experts
had been questioning its ability to compete in the mobile computing
market against the might of Microsoft. However, Psion had a trump card
in the form of its EPOC operating system for wireless information
devices, such as the new breed of smartphones.
After months of negotiations, it announced the formation of a new
limited company, Symbian, in partnership with the three biggest mobile
phone manufacturers, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.
To announce the creation of Symbian to customers, suppliers,
shareholders and employees.
Brunswick was involved in draft meetings with banks and marketing people
a couple of months in advance of the 25 June launch. It helped prepare
all documentation for marketing the deal to the City.
The Symbian announcement was originally planned for 7am on 25 June, but
there was a last minute hitch - Motorola had still not decided whether
it wanted to be a founding partner.
Two versions of the launch press release were produced by Brunswick, one
including Motorola and one without. A room had been booked for the press
conference at noon in the Barbican and PR teams from Psion, Brunswick,
and Nautilus assembled to begin inviting the media once the deal had
been announced to the Stock Exchange.
As negotiations with Motorola continued, it looked as though the press
conference might have to be cancelled. Then, at 10.30am, the call came
saying that Motorola had come in and it was all systems go.
Armed with contact names and mobile phone numbers, the PR team
frantically began inviting the media, with Brunswick concentrating on
the financial and business press, and Nautilus on the consumer and
trade. ’We had to use all our charm and persuasion to get people to drop
everything and come to the launch - it was dynamic stuff,’ says Psion’s
head of PR, Anthony Garvey.
As soon as the deal was announced, staff at Psion Software were e-mailed
to explain what the new company would mean to them. As there would be no
significant changes to their work, just a name change, it was decided
that face-to-face briefings were unnecessary.
Despite the extremely short notice, the press conference was very well
attended, by five television crews, around 15 photographers and more
than 40 journalists.
Coverage was widespread, emphasising the significance of the creation of
Symbian. The Observer described it as ’a breathtaking deal’, and said
Psion had ’outflanked Microsoft’. Most of the other nationals expressed
similar sentiments. Broadcast coverage included Sky News, CNN, CNBC,
Radio 5 and radio station News Direct. Not surprisingly, business and
trade press coverage has been extensive.
Psion’s share price leapt at the news of the deal, doubling in two
Cuttings are still coming in from around the world. Garvey expects to
spend about 10 per cent of the budget on evaluation.
Psion’s PR operation managed to keep things sufficiently hush-hush to
cause a real impact when the creation of Symbian was announced.
On the launch day, the PR team managed to stay calm and avoid panic, and
using the contacts it had cultivated, pulled off an excellent attendance
at the press conference leading to exceptional coverage.
PR Team: In-house, Nautilus Communications, Brunswick
Campaign: Launch of Symbian
Timescale: April to June 1998