PR Team: Power PR (Torrance, CA) and Lightning Eliminators and Consultants (Boulder, CO) Campaign: Dissipation Array System Time Frame: February 2000-ongoing Budget: Under $100,000For the average non-science buff, lightning rods conjure up fuzzy images of Ben Franklin and kites, but little in the way of more current events. Southern California-based Power PR was charged by its hi-tech client Lightning Eliminators and Consultants (LEC) to not only get people talking about lightning rods and their more modern alternatives, but to make sure people understood what they were talking about. The company makes a new generation of "lightning-protection systems" that can actually prevent the dreaded bolts of electricity from forming and striking sensitive buildings and equipment such as manufacturing, communications, and petrochemical facilities. The problem was that potential buyers had never even heard of LEC or its cutting-edge technology. Strategy Power PR based its campaign on educating key markets about "strike-prevention systems." "Our technology is not fully understood or instantly obvious," laments Jerry Kerr, LEC's director of marketing and web development. "People who use it really like it. But those who don't use it really don't know anything about it. We needed to get the word out." The goal quickly became to explain the product in an interesting, easily accessible way, while also concentrating on the credibility of the messengers. Tactics Power PR started by crafting a seven-page feature story that interviewed managers at companies that currently use LEC products, as well as the company's principals, and provided not-too-technical examples of who was using strike-prevention technology, how it worked, and the cost and safety benefits. Included were case studies from companies such as FedEx and the Florida Department of Transportation. "We interviewed our clients and made sure we understood the technology. We were then able to restate it in a way that told the reader in a concise and clear way what the technology did," explains Power PR account manager Jeff Elliot. "We supported it with some photography and diagrams that showed how it worked." Because most news editors hadn't heard of LEC's innovations, the material provided a fresh, science-based story. Power PR then followed up with a series of customer testimonials showing how the systems were used in various settings. Those were also sent out to trade titles. Results The original article was printed in its entirety in various trades, including publications in the electric-light and power industry, the pipe and gas industries, and electrical-business titles. In all, it was placed more than 25 times, says Elliot. The case studies were also well received, and found their way into print. For LEC, however, the real results were seen after the articles had run and the phones started ringing. "The quality of our leads has improved greatly," says Kerr. "Our salesmen have gone out on more calls. We're getting a lot of good comments on the articles in general. People read the stories, and it creates interest." LEC also noticed more traffic to its website. "Website hits have gone up 20%," says Kerr. "But I can add that the quality of these leads is better because somebody has read an article and was subsequently driven to our website in hopes of finding a solution to their lightning-strike problem." Future LEC was so happy with Power PR's efforts that it hired the company to help with other innovations, including a floating roof-tank grounding method for companies that have large tanks of fluid that need protection from electrical strikes.