CAMPAIGNS: Technology PR - Profile boost for Network Associates

Network Associates (NA) is one of the world's largest anti-virus, security and network management software vendors. Viewed as a major player by the IT and trade press, the company wanted a keener, broad-based awareness of its brand in the business community. The challenge, however, was to create a sustainable, proactive branding campaign to achieve long-term exposure.

As one of Bite's retained clients, NA had achieved widespread coverage following the 'I love you' virus campaign in 2000, which piggybacked on a global, high-profile, damaging virus outbreak, resulting in the story becoming the lead on the BBC news.

Objectives

To build a solid corporate brand for NA that would position the company as a leader in security on the internet. An issues-based campaign would be created, aimed at C-level audiences that focused on internet security in their work.

To encourage corporate Britain to take up a preventive approach to computer security issues.

Strategy and Plan

Bite felt it was essential for NA to research and pinpoint the most important security issues in this business field and champion a need to identify the trends in companies' attitudes towards internet security.

A report had to be created as a launch pad to jolt complacent businesses into reviewing existing but possibly ineffective security measures.

Bite therefore recommended that a significant piece of research be undertaken to identify the vulnerability of UK businesses towards viruses and other security threats, including hackers.

Around 150 IT directors and managers across the country were contacted and interviewed. The results showed a worryingly high level of ignorance at companies towards managing their e-business networks. The results showed that 49 per cent of the sample believed end-users had poor basic IT skills, and that 56 per cent believed that senior management was not alert to the number of security threats.

The Bite team believed the results presented a strong opportunity to highlight the threat posed to the UK economy by such management neglect.

Though newsworthy in their own right, the results also provided NA with a basis to prescribe a formula for 'ailing networks' within UK companis, thereby highlighting its specific products and services.

Updates on how businesses were progressing would be classed as an 'add-on' at later stages and would extend the campaign in tandem with the opportunistic work already being carried out to keep the security issue front of mind with UK business leaders.

The PR team launched the results under the theme 'UK e-business is on the sick list', with a day of one-on-one press briefings with three senior NA spokespeople, who conducted a total of 17 interviews with trade, digital, national and broadcast media.

The research was then used in May through to September 2001 as sales engagement and marketing collateral for NA's marketers. Additional dissecting of the results focused on specific product lines from September through to December 2001, gaining substantial trade and technical press coverage.

Measurement and Evaluation

From the front page of the Metro free newspaper in London to the lead story on BBC News Online (technology pages), and ITN digital and Independent Radio News, the research and its findings created headlines that potentially reached millions of viewers and computer users.

The story's in-depth national showing increased its significance markedly in the computer trade press, which treats such research in a measured fashion so as to avoid alarmist reporting.

Instead of tackling events that had already happened, NA had successfully acted as predicator and pushed an important national issue back onto the front pages of nationals, dailies and weeklies, and across a broad spectrum of the broadcast media.

As outreach continued over the next six months, Bite arranged 28 press interviews, including coverage on Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, IRN, The Mirror, Sky News, Channel 5 News and every trade news title.

Results

The campaign successfully placed NA at the heart of the ongoing internet security debate and created a high level of awareness for the NA brand.

It successfully targeted the intended corporate audience and also burned onto the computer consumer agenda, suggesting that the campaign went further than media coverage.

Bite produced a presentation pack for NA's sales force across the country, which included the findings from the research.

This allowed the sales team to talk through and engage with potential customers about security concerns and potential safeguards without being alarmist.

In addition, NA marketers were able to issue the findings in a report for use as marketing and sales collateral.

NA also proceeded to undertake similar research on a pan-European level as a result of the success of this project.

The results of the report, beyond the raft of coverage a year on from the campaign's inception, are still being used by NA for marketing strategies.

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