Macrovision, a large software company based in California, had a PR problem."Not a lot of people really know about Macrovision," explains Jason Mandell, a partner at Macrovision's AOR, LaunchSquad. "Their brand recognition is not as high as it should be for a company as big as they are and for as much of a market leader as they are."
In an effort to raise its profile, Macrovision decided it wanted to expand the scope of an annual users conference it hosted called SoftSummit and make it into an "influential, industry-wide event," says Mandell.
"We wanted to continue its momentum and attract even more attention from movers and shakers in the software industry," adds Debra Chin, Macrovision's director of customer marketing.
However, because the event was seen as a small, segment-specific gathering, it was a difficult challenge to convince both industry insiders and media that it was worth their time.
"Our main goal was to generate as much media attendance and interest as possible," says Mandell. "Number two was to basically generate media coverage. And, at the higher level, it was to accelerate Macrovision's leadership in the software industry."
The team decided that the key to success was making the conference newsworthy. Because Macrovision did not have any major announcements, it sought to create a groundbreaking survey of industry pricing and licensing trends that could be re- leased at the event.
"The client went for it, and we were off," says Mandell.
In order to make the survey more credible, the team partnered with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and other industry organizations. The questionnaire was sent to more than 1,000 people. More than 500 responded.
"What we got out of those questions was amazing - some really interesting data that we analyzed and helped create a report around," says Mandell. "Now we had news."
In the days leading up to SoftSummit, the PR team aggressively pitched journalists to attend and held pre-event briefings about the report. In addition, LaunchSquad contacted PR teams from other companies sponsoring the event and even created PR materials for them to use to hype their participation with the idea that it would benefit the conference to have media pitched on it by more than one company.
"It definitely met and exceeded our expectations for the event," says Chin.
Almost 20 journalists attended the October conference, from major outlets including BusinessWeek, Forbes, Bloomberg, InformationWeek, CNET, eWeek, IDG News, InfoWorld, and Red Herring. That was a significant increase over the previous year. Those journalists created dozens of media hits, often quoting Macrovision executives.
In addition, Mendell says that although it's "not a usual thing for PR to make a direct connection between a campaign and sales leads," LaunchSquad's efforts led to more than 700 people downloading the report from SoftSummit's website, each of which Macrovision considers a potential client.
"It's great because it has all been pretty viral from the media," says Chin, adding that from the downloads, "we capture (contacts) in our lead system and work to cultivate a relationship with those people."
About 500 people attended the conference, about double the number that attended in 2003.
As AOR, LaunchSquad is continually looking for ways to promote Macrovision's position within the industry and has already started work on next year's SoftSummit.
"We are always doing something for them, constantly working with them," says Mandell. "We are going to take the success we had last year and maybe create another study. It worked so well we want to do a similar type of thing."
PR team: Macrovision (Santa Clara, CA) and LaunchSquad (San Francisco)
Campaign: SoftSummit conference
Time frame: August through October 2004