CAMPAIGN: Review campaign boosts radio from Boston Acoustics

PR Team: Boston Acoustics (Peabody, MA) and PAN Communications (Andover, MA) Campaign: Recepter Radio launch Time Frame: September 2002-March 2003 Budget: $75,000

PR Team: Boston Acoustics (Peabody, MA) and PAN Communications (Andover, MA) Campaign: Recepter Radio launch Time Frame: September 2002-March 2003 Budget: $75,000

After more than 20 years making high-end audio and stereo equipment for home entertainment, cars, and personal computers, Boston Acoustics decided it was time to develop a more mainstream consumer product - a radio. And with the company's foray into lower-end audio also came Boston Acoustics' most intense use of PR. The company has used little PR over its 23-year history, letting the reputation of its high-end audio equipment speak for itself. But faced with having to reach an entirely different audience for a whole new product, the company brought in PAN Communications to market the radio to a broad consumer audience. "While we are well known to the audiophile market, we needed help introducing our brand to the mass audience," explains Colleen Cronin, manager of Boston Acoustics' marketing communications group. Strategy "This was something that consumers just had to plug in, and that was it," says PAN director Ditas Mauricio, of the Recepter. "They've never had something that was so consumer-facing." In having to reach a different audience through a new set of influencers, PAN and Boston Acoustics developed a two-tiered approach that would introduce the radio during a soft launch at industry trade shows, followed by an aggressive product-review campaign. "The product wasn't going to be ready for those trade shows except for a few sample units, but we could use them as a launch pad to get in touch with key writers," explains Mauricio. Tactics Boston Acoustics and PAN unveiled the Recepter Radio at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Instillation Association) show, with sample units and executives available for the press and analysts. "The Recepter was the pet project of [Boston Acoustics] chairman [Andrew Kotsatos], so we made sure he was there," says Mauricio. Following the trade shows came an aggressive review campaign targeting consumer writers and editors at the Today show, The New York Times, Popular Science, the Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Detroit News, and Gannett News Service. "It was very important for us to get into the mainstream media," says Cronin. "The people reviewing the radio are not audiophiles. So their opinion to a more mainstream audience is important for this radio." PAN also had Boston Acoustics create a special toll-free number that would measure the impact of PR on sales of the Recepter. For any review or product placement, PAN provided a particular phone number to the reporter, which could be included in an article or product review, allowing readers to obtain more information or place an order. In turn, Boston Acoustics could determine the impact of PAN's efforts, and measure the effectiveness from market to market. So when an article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the call center could track the number of calls it received from the Chicago area as a result of that article. Results After The New York Times' Recepter review ran on March 27, Boston Acoustics sold 49 radios in one day, after typically averaging less than 10 per day. When The Dallas Morning News review ran on February 13, calls on the special toll-free number went from two per day to 26 in one day. And after the Louisville Courier-Journal review ran on March 8, the company shipped eight radios to customers with Kentucky addresses. Overall, Mauricio estimates that media coverage has generated more than 500 million impressions. Future Boston Acoustics and PAN will continue to focus on reviews of the Recepter along with the special toll-free numbers, with the latest review request coming from the Los Angeles Times.

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