PUBLIC RELATIONS AWARDS 2000: Campaign - Best Business Campaign



Building an Online Brand

Hill and Knowlton (UK)

BuildOnline is a business-to-business e-commerce site providing services for the European construction sector.

It aims to bring materials and services into the internet marketplace of suppliers and buyers. The site has a collaboration tool which can link together all the parties in a construction project, from design and tender, to maintenance.

The objective of the campaign was to create and occupy the 'e-construction' platform in the UK market, ahead of any competition, and promote BuildOnline to potential customers and new investors.

In the run-up to the launch of the site Hill and Knowlton discovered that a competitor backed by publisher EMAP, Construction Plus, was also due to be launched imminently. EMAP publishes some of the leading construction business titles in the UK, and would not cover a rival.

BuildOnline was launched with a photo-shoot, press release and one-to-one interviews on 24 January, three days ahead of Construction Plus.

The day after the launch, the company and agency attended a First Tuesday meeting for e-commerce entrepreneurs in London to talk about the company, and on 6 March, H&K was able to announce BuildOnline's funding as the largest for any European vertical business-to-business site.

Following the launch there was a quiet period while BuildOnline prepared its products for the UK market. The PR focus shifted to promoting CEO Mark Suster as an expert in b2b e-commerce to help build the company's profile and secure third-round funding. H&K targeted pan-European titles such as Time and Fortune.

H&K positioned Suster as an industry guru at 15 e-commerce events in Europe and the US. It also ensured a strong profile for BuildOnline at Europe's premier property event, MIPIM in Cannes. It created a BuildOnline seminar at MIPIM, and a daily branded section in MIPIM Daily News.

Briefing meetings were set up with opinion formers and analysts, who were sent press releases and updates. Media coverage has been extensive, with 80 per cent of target media reached. 400 visitors registered interest in the company at MIPIM. Meetings were held with 14 analysts, and one of the investment banks is now managing BuildOnline's third-round finance.


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