As a peer-to-peer Web site that provides local citizens' rooms to rent, AirBed & Breakfast created an aggressive media outreach effort showcasing its service as an alternative to the hotel shortage in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
With the support of AOR MSR Communications, the company launched on June 1 with only word of mouth, says Michael Burke, account supervisor for MSR. “We wanted to use the RNC and DNC as a launch pad,” adds Joe Gebbia, a cofounder of Air Bed & Breakfast. “We saw Barack Obama in Portland, OR, on CNN in April, and thought, ‘If [he] can attract that many people then, what's going to happen at the biggest pep rallies?'”
Burke says the team targeted local press at the convention venues to reach local consumers. “Adding on the lifestyle [and low-fee] angle, we pitched that the site gave people the opportunity to meet people who share the same views,” he says. As the company is both an off and online social network, Gebbia says Air Bed & Breakfast was promoted via online social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, in addition to blogger outreach.
After targeting Denver press and having more than 900 Denver locals post room availabilities to the site, the story was picked up by local affiliates and eventually by national and international news outlets. Within a month of the campaign, the Web site went from rooms offered by peer users in three countries to 62, Gebbia says.
The company is expanding its offerings by providing its hosts with their own branded breakfast cereals, Obama-O's and Cap'n McCain's.
PR team: AirBed & Breakfast and MSR Communications (both San Francisco)
Campaign: DNC/RNC promotion
Duration: July-September 2008