Toshiba Medical Systems, a maker of diagnostic imaging equipment, doesn't have a hefty marketing budget.
But in 2001, new management stepped in, and the company decided to grow the business through earned media. Last year, it took that strategy one step further. "Our goal: to get as much press coverage as [Toshiba's] better-budgeted competitors," says Loree Bowen, director of Paine PR's healthcare practice.
The company decided to promote a customer relationship message to reach administrators at hospitals and diagnostic imaging centers, with an emphasis on outcomes: how its equipment benefits end users.
But rather than focus solely on diagnostic imaging trade magazines, Toshiba targeted lifestyle and business outlets. The PR team could then highlight that coverage in meetings with potential customers, says Cathy Wolfe, Toshiba director of marketing services.
Bowen points to a more intangible benefit of mainstream coverage: companywide morale.
Spokespeople for the campaign ranged from customers to the VP of marketing. Bowen notes that Toshiba also partnered with hospitals to find newsworthy stories about its technology in action.
Internal communications also played a critical role, Wolfe notes. Toshiba needed to explain its strategy to employees and help them understand its importance. It also implemented media training seminars for managers, the ambassadors of the message.
Toshiba tripled its media coverage in the past year, including hits in Newsweek, Time, and even Oprah.
Toshiba also has experienced 20% to 25% annual growth since the campaign's launch, Wolfe says.
Wolfe notes that in 2006 the company plans to further segment the market, focusing on medical subspecialties, such as oncology or radiology.
Toshiba Medical Systems
PR TEAM: Toshiba Medical Systems (Tustin, CA), Paine PR (Irvine, CA), and PR consultants
CAMPAIGN: No Frills PR campaign
DURATION: 2005 (part of an ongoing campaign launched in 2001)
BUDGET: $350,000 annually