Right Media went from a relatively unknown online advertising startup to being acquired by Yahoo for $680 million in one year.
Behind the pricey acquisition was a PR campaign that the startup launched to create an identity in the crowded online advertising space.
"We found ourselves on the verge of the spotlight as the industry changed, but without being at all prepared to be in the spotlight," says Mike Walrath, Right Media's CEO. "We couldn't expect the market to understand what we were doing unless we actually spent some time talking to the market."
The strategy wasn't to position the startup for acquisition, but make it a thought leader by establishing its brand fundamentals. "[Right Media was] having a little of a challenge in terms of taking that to market in a really cohesive way," says Anthony Loredo, SAE at the Horn Group, which worked on the effort.
The team developed simplified messaging that made the company's business easy to grasp. It used this messaging for both internal communications and for media outreach to top-tier business and trade publications and influential blogs. The company also redesigned its Web site and told its story with animated characters (pictured) and voice-overs that dramatized Right Media's business in a narrative. Blogs and other conversational-style exchanges were highlighted on the Web site. "Everything we did was around the healthy market disruption we were trying to create," Walrath notes.
The campaign first made impact on the blogosphere with influential blogs like TechCrunch. That led to greater interest from the top-tier press, including The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. The increased market standing and branding led to the company being acquired by Yahoo in April.
Most of the company's PR functions have been folded into Yahoo, but it continues to work with the Horn Group in scaled-down capacity.
PR team: Right Media (New York) and Horn Group (New York)
Campaign: Brand awareness that led to acquisition
Duration: May 2006 to May 2007
Budget: $40,000 to $80,000 per month