CAMPAIGNS: Brightmail efforts highlight severity of spam problems

PR Team: Brightmail (San Francisco) and Phase Two Strategies (San Francisco) Campaign: Spam data opt-in newsletter and media outreach Time Frame: May-October 2002 Budget: $50,000

PR Team: Brightmail (San Francisco) and Phase Two Strategies (San Francisco) Campaign: Spam data opt-in newsletter and media outreach Time Frame: May-October 2002 Budget: $50,000

Spam is a four-letter word that often brings other four-letter words to mind. San Francisco-based Brightmail, a leading anti-spam technology firm, has been fighting spam for the past four years. But despite its efforts and partnerships with ISPs such as MSN, AOL, and EarthLink, the company's mindshare wasn't as high as it hoped. "We knew we were the leader [in anti-spam technology], but that wasn't being communicated succinctly," says Linda Smith Munyan, Brightmail's marketing communications manager. "We filter billions of messages. We handle enterprise traffic." But the problem wasn't just Brightmail's low profile. There were also misperceptions that spam was just a nuisance, albeit a constant and persistent one. "Spammers have figured out how to attack corporations," explains Munyan. "Corporations didn't see it as an annoyance. They didn't understand the scope of the problem." Brightmail brought Phase Two Strategies on board as its AOR to help raise awareness of its brand and solutions, as well as the menace of spam. Strategy Brightmail wanted to accomplish three things: The company wanted to build awareness of its brand and the spam problem; establish itself as the leader in the ISP space when it comes to fighting spam; and solidify its position as the leader in anti-spam technology, becoming the spam expert for the media and analysts. "It's more than an awareness campaign," says Chris Boehlke, Phase Two president and CEO. "Everyone is aware that spam is a problem. We had to quantify the extent of the problem. It's a problem that has serious ramifications for business." Tactics "The challenge was to get the data [about spam] to those who wanted it," says Phase Two account director Melissa King. "Getting them the data was key. It really helped illustrate the problem. And the data helped drive the substance of the problem of spam." After talking to everyone at Brightmail from the CEO on down, Phase Two worked with the company to create an online virtual press kit, which offers everything from monthly statistics and trends on spam to analysis from researchers such as the Gartner Group. Phase Two contacted journalists with information, and also offered an opt-in monthly e-mail newsletter with updated news and data on spam. "We wanted to make it opt-in, and not just send it out, because we didn't want to spam those we were trying to educate about spam," says account associate Jeanne Homung. "We helped create media-friendly graphs and charts. We helped them with customer case studies." Phase Two reached out to media outlets it knew would be interested in the material, offering not just the data that is vital to any trend story, but also insight and opinion from Brightmail itself as an expert source for those stories. Results Beginning in June, Brightmail saw a massive increase in media coverage of spam, with Brightmail cited as an expert source in more than 300 stories. Brightmail's brand was exposed to readers of Network magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Money, Investor's Business Daily, and hundreds of other local and national newspapers, and business, trade, and hi-tech publications, as well as radio and TV. Prior to the media onslaught, and from May through October of this year, PR drove nearly 80% of Brightmail's sales leads. Future Brightmail continues to press its case against spam, as 50 journalists have opted to receive monthly updates about the amount of spam being sent, and how that spam is categorized. Phase Two continues to monitor the media for new opportunities to introduce Brightmail. And Brightmail is also developing a higher profile for CEO Enrique Salem, so that he can help "create a consistent message for Brightmail, and be the voice of the company," says VP of marketing Francois Lavaste.

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