Although it had carved out a solid business as a provider of identity management security solutions for large, complex organizations, Thor Technologies was overshadowed in the enterprise software space by major players like Oracle, IBM, and SAP.
"We wanted to grow the business, but we also thought our acquisition by one of the larger companies was an expected outcome," says John Aisien, VP of marketing and business development. "But we knew we had to raise our profile among those vendors and their customers by appearing much bigger and more global."
Thor turned to Articulate Communications to develop media and analyst relationships and position Thor as the industry expert.
Articulate VP April Harned says that to position Thor as a thought leader, Articulate had to first determine the issues that were important to large businesses, which included complying with new regulations tied to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and worries that hackers could gain access to company and customer information stored within an IT infrastructure.
"We wanted to piggyback on the hot trends of the moment," Harned says. To appear credible and authoritative, Thor needed its customers to step forward and validate it. "That wasn't easy to do, but luckily, Lehman Bros. had done a very large implementation of Thor Technologies, and they had a great case study," she says.
Articulate leveraged that case study to broaden its media targets to include reporters covering the major investment firms.
"[Articulate] was tenacious," says Aisien. "When we focused on the two or three publications we wanted to break into, it was sometimes tough to find an angle, but Articulate kept finding new ways to engender interest."
The Lehman Bros. case study also provided a high-profile success story that helped Articulate propose Thor for major awards programs from Computerworld and other outlets.
Instead of creating a traditional media kit for Thor, Harned says, "We did a lot of issues response getting out there and offering up Thor as an expert in identity management security."
Aisien says the agency made sure Thor's executives were kept abreast of the campaign's progress, beyond just providing clips. " Articulate really excelled at the mechanics of PR," he says. "We knew exactly where we were last month, where were we now, and where did we need to be next month."
The campaign resulted in Thor Technologies and its customer Lehman Bros. getting more high-profile awards for a single identity management deployment than any other vendor in 2005, including the IT Security Innovation Award from Gartner Research and Network World's Enterprise All-Star Award.
Articulate also helped Thor get coverage in host of business, IT, and vertical outlets, including CSO, InfoWorld, and Dow Jones News Service.
Most important, the campaign played a part in raising Thor's profile in the space, which led to its acquisition by Oracle in November.
Aisien, now Oracle's VP of product management for identity management, says, "We were really pleased with the work Articulate did." But ironically, the acquisition ended Articulate's work for the company, though Harned says Articulate has talked with Oracle about future work.
PR TEAM: Thor Technologies (New York) and Articulate Communications (New York)
CAMPAIGN: Thor Technologies' Emergence as Identity Management Thought Leader
DURATION: April to November 2005
This campaign shows that a bulging clip book shouldn't be the only metric for measuring PR success. Articulate helped Thor Technologies portray itself as a major player - perhaps even bigger than it actually was - by targeting a small, but influential group of reporters and analysts, and relentlessly pursuing them with story ideas.
This campaign also shows the importance of working with a client's customers to come up with success stories that attract media interest, and garner recognition and validation within its industry.