As they are becoming more prolific, many dot-coms are finding it increasingly difficult to garner the individual media attention they once enjoyed. The challenge now is to generate publicity without the intense media fervor that once surrounded dot-com IPOs or the latest product launch.
As they are becoming more prolific, many dot-coms are finding it
increasingly difficult to garner the individual media attention they
once enjoyed. The challenge now is to generate publicity without the
intense media fervor that once surrounded dot-com IPOs or the latest
One way dot-coms and traditional IT firms are generating awareness is
through cause marketing. The concept, which was made famous by American
Express’ ’Share Our Strength’ campaign a few years ago, helps build
brand awareness while creating support for a good cause. It is a natural
fit for the players in the new economy. In fact, AOL and Cisco Systems
have been leaders in this area with their respective Helping.org and
NetAid.org sites, which drive traffic and resources to worthy
To use cause marketing effectively, any initiative should have certain
synergies with the dot-com’s service or mission. Monster.com has
developed ’Virtual Job Shadowing,’ where students can shadow ’career
mentors’ via the Internet. This gives students access to the company’s
job services, which allows potential users to become familiar with the
benefits of Monster.com while learning marketable skills.
Dot-coms operating in a cause-marketing vein should also consider
working closely with non-profits to generate publicity. A good cause is
made even better when a non-profit is part of the mix. Additionally,
there are reporters who are more open to a pitch coming from a
On this note, dot-coms should not assume non-profits lack PR talent.
Many non-profits are multimillion-dollar enterprises and have top-notch
When working on a cause-marketing project, it is important to provide
access to company spokespeople. Sending out a press release without
having a senior-level spokesperson available for interviews sends a
message to the press - and to partnering organizations - that the cause
isn’t really that important. More specifically, the CEO of a dot-com can
not only be an effective spokesperson for a cause but a chief executive
who is willing to be interviewed, which opens myriad doors for
Additionally, such interviews give CEOs a great opportunity to build
their name recognition.
Finally, set realistic expectations. Building a brand takes time and is
influenced by various factors. Dot-coms investigating cause marketing
should consider committing to an effort for at least two years, but
preferably longer. Cause marketing can help build positive brand
associations in the minds of end users, which can ultimately increase
site traffic, revenue and, in time, stock value.
- Edward Grocholski is VP of public education at Ogilvy, Washington, DC.