Mozilla broadened outreach for Firefox launch

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Mozilla broadened its outreach beyond its core audience when it launched the new version of its Firefox browser last week.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Mozilla broadened its outreach beyond its core audience when it launched the new version of its Firefox browser last week.

Melissa Shapiro, PR manager at Mozilla, said the browser's popularity prompted it to go beyond its early adopter community for Firefox 3.0. Statistically the browser has thrived among males between 18 to 34 who are early adopters and computer-savvy, she said.

"We've learned those people are the ones doing tech support for their families," Shapiro noted. "But we're finding that the second-circle of people who got Firefox because somebody put it on their machine tend to like it and turned into subscribers as well."

To reach a wider audience, PR efforts targeted mainstream publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and other popular business and consumer media, with a message that Firefox is the choice for fast, customizable, and secure Web browsing, she said. The company wanted to let consumers know they don't have to use the browser that comes bundled with their computer as well, she added.

"Education is a big piece of what we work on from a PR perspective and letting people know that there is a choice for Web browsing," Shapiro said.

Because most bloggers are early adopters of technology, outreach to this community was already factored into the company's core communications strategy. Mozilla hosted a “Download Day” for a 24-hour period the day the new browser launched to compete for the Guinness World record for the number of downloads. As part of the media outreach for the event, Mozilla embedded blogger Ryan Paul of Ars Technica to report on the event. Mozilla reported more than eight million downloads during the 24-hours, despite widespread server availability problems during the event, which shattered the company's own records, though Guinness is reportedly still analyzing the results. It garnered attention in the blogsphere as well as tech publications.

The company is also simplifying the language in its reviewer's guide to make the material more accessible and attractive to a wider range of journalists, Shapiro said. In addition, it overhauled the Mozilla Web site to make it more user-friendly, especially for newcomers looking to download the updated browser.

The company worked with its AOR, OutCast Communications, on its outreach in the US and other global agencies for worldwide efforts.

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