Client: Nexgenix (Irvine, CA)
Client: Nexgenix (Irvine, CA)
PR Team: In house
Campaign: Building e-Relationships
Time Frame: January to December 2000
Budget: Between dollars 500,000 and dollars 1 million
Nexgenix consults with Fortune 1000 corporations and pure-play dot-coms on how to reconstruct their Web sites and remodel their business plans to better retain customers. Helping companies build long-term relationships has inspired Nexgenix's long-term approach to media relations.
As part of a yearlong branding campaign that started in January, Michael Donner, director of marketing and communications, tries to convince reporters to cover Nexgenix by building long-term relationships with them. But one of the difficulties he faces is getting Nexgenix clients to agree to be case studies for the articles.
By 'long term,' Donner means he expects to have several talks with a reporter over a month or two before seeing any coverage. He's happy to engage in 'meaningful conversations' that last a half hour or more and may result in just a mention.
It's a two-way street. He passes on to journalists the names of expert sources from research firms like Forrester Research and GartnerGroup, who come to Nexgenix to discover what hardware and software the company is recommending to its clients.
Donner also picks the right reporters to cultivate. The media list hovers at around 300 parties interested in e-relationships and profitability.
'We try to stay as focused as possible,' Donner remarks. These reporters include those at trade books covering each client's field and premier Internet and business publications such as the Industry Standard and The Wall Street Journal.
Convincing clients to share their stories is challenging. Indeed, 20%-30% refuse outright because they feel competitors would learn their secrets.
Others demand to know the return on investment - nearly impossible for PR efforts. Even those who consent won't let Donner put out a press release without a time-consuming approval process that often includes the CEO.
Donner counteracts this reluctance by demonstrating that he understands which trade publications and other media would showcase them best. He also shows them clips from clients who have enjoyed great coverage.
Compromise is his watchword. Donner wanted to publicize the launch of client Thirsty.com, a wireless-enabled Web site targeting Generation Y, but the site was delayed. He didn't want to put out a release and alert the competition before it was ready. Donner watched as all of Nexgenix's competitors ran press releases about their wireless initiatives. 'Here comes Nexgenix three weeks later, but we were the only one that could present an actual live client demonstration,' he recalls happily. 'Thirsty.com was covered everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to Adweek.'
The PR effort is supported by special events, direct mail and advertising.
An ad campaign in national magazines this summer centers on 'relationship icons' that evoke e-relationships, such as a man having an intimate dinner with a computer.
The client stories are so vital to the campaign that Donner now sends out a press release about a different client each week. Because the approval process is so long, he has four or five in the offing at all times.
Between 35 and 50 stories mentioning Nexgenix have run so far, including the WSJ and Adweek pieces. Some 10 feature articles include front-page coverage in the Orange County Business Journal, with photos, and CRN (formerly Computer Reseller News). A pair of two-pagers ran in BtoB and E-Retailing World, and it was also included in Revolution magazine in a piece on building relationships. Other big hits include Interactive Week, InfoWorld and Investor's Business Daily.
As an example of a success story, Donner's long conversations with reporters, along with having clients ready to talk, paid off with a Boston Globe technology reporter, who 'always calls Nexgenix to talk to our retail clients and mentions Nexgenix in many stories she writes,' he says.
Once in awhile Nexgenix wins a corporate profile, but it's not easy to persuade reporters to write about a vendor - they want the story of the end user.
Donner plans to continue to send out a press release a week, staying focused on the Internet trade press and his clients' trade publications.