NEW YORK: Fox Business Network (FBN), the new cable business news competitor to CNBC, kept tight control on coverage prior to its launch last week in a strategy designed to pique the public's interest, but also keep expectations in check.
"Our job was relatively easy... because this launch was the most anticipated [one] in years," said Brian Lewis, Fox's EVP for corporate communications. "That was not our doing. The media created that."
Parent company News Corp. officially announced that it was creating FBN last February, and media scrutiny has been intense. But instead of maximizing exposure for months, the PR team opted to carefully parcel out participation in the coverage, beginning tentatively in the summer.
"We were very selective in what we participated in and what we chose to pursue," said Fox VP of media relations Irena Briganti, who led much of the work surrounding the launch. FBN hired its own internal three-person team in September and is not working with an outside agency.
Fox declined most media requests before October 8, a week prior to the launch. It also kept the number of advance press releases minimal, betting that a short burst of coverage would be more beneficial than a long rollout. In an unusual move, FBN did not even release its roster of shows until its launch date.
"Roger [Ailes, CEO of Fox News] looked at us and said, 'Why do we have to announce the programming schedule at all?'" recalled Lewis. "And I didn't have a good answer for it."
At the same time, Lewis said, the team emphasized the "David vs. Goliath" angle of FBN's rivalry with CNBC. The focus is on tempering public expectations for quick success.
"There have been launches where they've over-promised," Lewis said. "There are so many naysayers out there... they're doing our work for us by saying it's not going to work."