Client: Ziff Davis Internet (NYC)
PR Team: CooperKatz & Company (New York)
Campaign: ExtremeTech Launch/America's Fastest Geek
Time Frame: May 15 - July 31, 2001
At a time when "dot-com" had become a dirty word and conventional wisdom
was pointing to the demise of content-driven websites, Ziff Davis
decided to go against the grain with the spring launch of a new online
publication. The site, Extreme-Tech.com, targets software programmers
and developers, product engineers, IT network administrators, and even
tech junkies and gamers. With ExtremeTech's debut, Ziff hoped to
generate publicity for the company within the business and industry
press, as well as draw traffic to the site from this wide and diverse
community of end users. The company therefore enlisted the services of
CooperKatz & Co.
CooperKatz took a two-pronged approach. First, to reach the mainstream
business press and industry publications, the team formed a pitch around
the idea of Ziff's daring to introduce an online publication in the
current economic climate. "With a website launch, it's difficult to
convince reporters that this is indeed news at all," admits Steve Rubel,
manager of client service for CooperKatz. "So we used that to our
advantage by highlighting the fact that Ziff Davis was investing in
online content at a time when few others were."
For the second phase of the campaign, CooperKatz cooked up an event to
be staged at PC Expo. The "America's Fastest Geek" competition, modeled
after the extreme sporting events, pitted programmers and other techies
against each other in a series of timed heats to assemble a PC from
scratch starting with a bucket of parts. The winner of the final round
would receive a custom-designed chrome PC.
For phase one of the launch, CooperKatz kicked off the business media
outreach with an offer to The New York Times for an exclusive in the
paper's Monday Media Business section. On the day the Times story ran, a
news announcement for wide release was distributed on the PR newswires,
followed by a week-long media tour.
To generate awareness and recruit contestants, CooperKatz planted a
story about the contest on MSNBC.com. "We were really worried the night
before that no contestants would sign up and we would be left assembling
the parts ourselves," he recalls. "Instead, we had crowds of at least 20
people deep at the booth every day. And lots of reporters actually
wanted to try the contest themselves."
On the day of the finals, the team shot b-roll of the winner, which was
offered to local and national TV news outlets. A print press release was
also distributed on the wires.
In addition to the Times piece, ExtremeTech's debut was covered by The
Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS Marketwatch, and the San Francisco
The "America's Fastest Geek" contest also garnered broadcast coverage,
including stories on CNBC, Fox News, TechTV, Bloomberg Radio, and NY1
News. A photo of the winning geek even ran on the AP wire.
Within 30 days of the first Times story - and without support of any
other marketing - ExtremeTech received more than four million page
The ExtremeTech launch was a project account for CooperKatz, though
Rubel says the publicity surrounding the contest has caused the agency
to receive a number of calls from prospective clients looking to stage
similar media events at trade shows.