CAMPAIGNS: Web Site Launch - is first in its class

Client: (Los Angeles)

PR Team: The MWW Group (Los Angeles)

Campaign: The Launch of

Time Frame: January 2001-ongoing

Budget: Under dollars 75,000

Launching a Web site in today's economy would seem about as easy as

pushing an elephant uphill. But MWW decided to shoulder the PR pachyderm

for, a consumer site that provides forms, instructions and

other services for people seeking to file for divorce, write a will or

accomplish other simple legal activities.

"We started the campaign when dot-coms were failing, and everyone was

talking about the decline of the industry as a whole," explains MWW

account supervisor Larry Barrios. But the continued reluctance of the

legal sector to make a big splash on the Web made a viable

idea that could be easily communicated to consumers. "We saw this as

something the Internet was perfect for," says MWW SVP and general

manager Harvey Englander.


Rather than spend time courting jaundiced technology journalists,

Englander and Barrios headed straight to consumers through mainstream

media outlets.

The team hoped to avoid the quick death facing many Internet start-ups

by leveraging the star power of site co-founder and famed O.J. Simpson

lawyer Robert Shapiro, and by playing up the high rates lawyers charge.

"Our marketplace was consumers and small business people - stay-at-home

moms who open their own companies, young, married people, even people

getting civil divorces - not The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek or

the legal publications," says Englander.

Even with the obvious utility of the site, Barrios emphasized the need

to make a "big impact" to overcome growing cynicism toward



In mid-February, MWW announced the launch by creating a press kit that

included a false court summons and litigation folder personalized for

each of 150 consumer reporters at national print and broadcast outlets.

The summons ordered reporters to preview the site before its March 12


Biographies, corporate background and other items labeled as

depositions, briefs and evidence were also included. Top-tier reporters

received a judge's gavel with the logo.

MWW staff set up interviews with Shapiro as tech reporters flocked to

the Internet World 2000 convention in Los Angeles. The agency invited 10

reporters to town for the convention and to attend a March 13 Lakers

game with Shapiro. One-on-one interviews were arranged at the


"It was much more guerrilla marketing of individually contacting

reporters instead of any kind of formal presence," says Englander.


Barrios claims 250 print hits, including The New York Times, the San

Francisco Chronicle and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Shapiro

appeared on the Early Today show, and was named the Yahoo!

and USA Today site of the week.

Special campaign focus on a Los Angeles AP reporter resulted in two

national wire stories about the site, says Barrios. The Lakers game

spurred stories in Business 2.0, Investor's Business Daily and Fortune

Small Business, and on KCBS-TV and

In addition to a smattering of tech coverage, the campaign achieved its

goal of mainstream consumer press coverage with hits on the Fox News

Channel, CNN, NBC, Bloomberg TV, Tech TV and PBS. And an additional 30

local television and radio stations nationwide picked up the story.

Though the agency declines to reveal the number of hits the site

averages, MWW claims traffic is now three times what it was prior to the



MWW plans to have high powered trust and estates lawyers draw up

documents for the site. "We want consumer reporters to say they know a

dollars 250 legal zoom will is as good as a will that a lawyer would

charge dollars 2,500 for," Barrios says.

Brian Lee, president of Legal Zoom, says he plans to stick with MWW and

will launch new immigration, landlord-tenant and small claims forms for

subscribers soon.

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