Zunafish site lands 'Times' circuit

The New York Times Circuits section, April 13

The New York Times Circuits section, April 13

Who is your client, and what are its media goals?

Drew Tybus: Out client is Zunafish, a Web site that allows people to trade DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, video games, or books they no longer want for ones they do. Its goal was to raise national awareness and gain members.

The New York Times Circuits section is a difficult one to crack. How did you pitch the story?

Tybus: Our agency had a faint relationship with the reporter, Michel Marriott, but I hadn't worked with him yet. The initial pitches were ignored, but I finally caught his ear for two minutes and explained the significance of the company. Then it was simply a matter of setting up interviews.

Since the dot-com collapse, tech reporters are leery of touting new ventures until they have a track record. Zunafish had been live only a few months. How did you overcome that challenge?

Tybus: With a new service like Zunafish, you have a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma: You can't get members until the press covers it, and the press won't cover it until you have members. Fortunately, the reporter and I were on the same page, and he understood this was an angle that no one had touched yet.

One of the Zunafish founders is a TV news anchor. Did that minimize the need for media training?

Tybus: Cofounder Dan Elias is an anchor for a Massachusetts NBC affiliate, but when we suggested media training, he approached it as if it were all new to him. Once the founders' interviews were done, we also had to get some customers, but they were very willing to talk about the service.

What was the impact of the hit?

Tybus: Before the story, Zunafish had only few hundred members.  By the end of the week it ran, Zunafish had 4,000-plus members.  The founders told me, "Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined something like this."

Name: Drew Tybus, senior account executive, Bratskeir & Co. (New York)

Placement: The New York Times Circuits section, April 13

Pitch timeline: Three months

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