As the number of consumers who shop online continues to rise, so does the possibility of fraud.
In December alone, there were 1,704 phishing e-mail messages reported to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, an association focused on eliminating online fraud and identity theft. Phishing is just one form of that fraud, which usually comes in the form of an e-mail designed to trick consumers into revealing personal information.
Cloudmark was set to launch software - SafetyBar - to protect consumers against such fraud. But this wasn't a simple product launch. It was also a rebranding of Cloudmark's successful SpamNet software, says Tricia Fahey, VP of marketing communications.
"We wanted to expand the brand to make the product more relevant to stop new kinds of fraud," adds Fahey. "The threats weren't as simple as they once were, and that posed a big threat during the holidays, when more people are shopping online."
SpamNet had garnered strong reviews, says Fahey, making the new product launch even more difficult because the old brand had strong brand awareness and user affinity. Cloudmark needed to show that this wasn't just a rebranding, but a product that had evolved into one consumers would find more valuable.
Cloudmark and Blanc & Otus (B&O) focused heavily on media and analyst relations, saturating both audiences with information about not just the new product, but also the invasiveness of new online scams.
"It was important to have the analysts singing our praises," says Fahey. "And once we did, we picked up the momentum of being an industry leader, particularly on educating people about phishing."
Many consumers had heard about phishing anecdotally, but didn't have a deep understanding. Cloudmark wanted to let consumers know that when they reported a specific phishing attack through SafetyBar, it would stop that attack against all other users of the software. Such features allowed Cloudmark and B&O to position SafetyBar as empowering to customers.
"We had to go beyond just talking about the software," adds B&O SVP Kim Barsi. "It had to be a broader educational push, particularly focusing on the consumer implications."
To establish Cloudmark's credibility, the company used customer references from firms like PayPal, says Barsi. Knowing that SafetyBar would have to compete with consumers' taxed attention spans during the holi- days, Cloudmark kicked off the push in October to get ahead of the holiday shopping curve.
The PR teams hit media, from tech trades to consumer magazines, to dominate as much mindshare as possible, says Barsi. During its analyst and media tour, Cloudmark used statistics on e-mail security, spam, phishing, and other online fraud and identity-theft threats to drive home the reality of the dangers lurking on the internet.
Cloudmark also issued a list of online shopping tips for consumers during the holidays, which ran in technology trades and regional daily newspapers.
Taking an educational and leadership position served Cloudmark well. B&O says news about SafetyBar and Cloudmark's role in fighting online scams reached an audience of 25 million in the US. Media that wrote about SafetyNet inclu-ded ABCNews.com, ComputerWorld, American Banker, and CBS Marketwatch.
SafetyBar garnered top reviews, besting the competition, in major consumer technology media, including PC Magazine and PC World. And the heavy media attention gained Cloudmark more than 100,000 SafetyBar customers during the last four months of last year.
Cloudmark and B&O will continue to educate the market about online scams, the ways consumers can protect themselves, and the role Cloudmark's software can play.
PR team: Cloudmark and Blanc & Otus (both San Francisco)
Campaign: SafetyBar product launch
Time frame: October to December 2004