Flashback to fall 1999, I am tailgating with friends before the first home game of the Patriot’s football season.  But all I can think about is work.  I am being showered by dot-com messages from colorful blimp and airplane banner billboards and my client, ENERGYguide, is not among the taglines in the clouds, nor will they spend millions of advertising dollars for sixty seconds of fame during the upcoming Superbowl.  Fast forward to spring 2000, weren’t they smart?  

This is the story of how Collaborative’s aggressive public relations campaign enabled ENERGYguide to fight the e-giants on a shoestring budget and win more than 83 million eyeballs during the battle.


ENERGYguide came to Collaborative Communications, Inc. with the goal of becoming the Web site for helping consumers nationwide lower their energy bills.  The company needed a household brand name to drive site traffic, increase its revenue stream, and secure venture capital funding.  

Detailed Analysis

Small budget, big competitors

Branding ENERGYguide’s name wasn’t going to be easy—consumers didn’t think twice about energy costs, until the first painfully high bills began arriving in consumers’ mailboxes across the US during the summer of 2000.  To boot, the e-utility market was incredibly crowded and some of the other utility dot-com players in the market had the backing of corporate giants like IBM and AOL or political legends like Joseph Kennedy.  ENERGYguide’s story had to be heard above the ruckus of millions of competitive marketing dollars and Hollywood-style glitz—all with a budget of less than $200,000 for the year.

Diverse Media Audience

Energy is a household staple—so ENERGYguide’s potential customer base was endless as was the number of varied media outlets that we would need to target during the course of our campaign.  In order to educate consumers about potential energy savings, Collaborative needed to first tell the ENERGYguide story to a half a dozen potential different reporting beats, including energy/utility, home, personal finance, business, technology, and environmental.  

Planning Process & Strategic Approach

Fast thinking…

Why should reporters care that a tiny company was trying to help consumers select energy providers?  Home reporters had intense Internet-phobias.  Selling a savings of $100 per year to a personal finance reporter that wants to advise consumers on how to retire at the ripe old age of 35 was a joke.  And imagine the fast talking media relations specialist that needed to convince an energy reporter to talk about anything other than commodities.

Collaborative used textbook public relations to convince reporters to expand their horizons.  We spent endless hours studying our top tier media list’s article portfolios to build our media databases.  We knew what each reporter was writing/broadcasting about and ultimately created a story pitch the reporter couldn’t refuse.  Plus, we offered the ingredients (energy experts, statistics, consumer references, and more) they needed to create unique stories.



Our team had to convince skeptical personal finance reporters of the savings growth potential—based upon doom and gloom for the cost of oil for the upcoming months.  Collaborative needed to introduce the energy efficiency tools to home reporters without mentioning the word dot-com until they were sold on the story, and then walk them through the online process.  

From day one, Collaborative knew that the best spokespeople for ENERGYguide were the company’s customers.  Collaborative worked closely with ENERGYguide’s customer service team to develop lists of potential customer representatives in each major media market in the US.  Collaborative courted and screened registered users and developed a list of well-spoken homeowners and renters that were agreeable to sharing their stories and even to letting camera crews into their homes.  Armed with this database, Collaborative secured more extensive feature coverage on ENERGYguide’s services rather than mentions in columns throughout the US.


Collaborative made ENERGYguide a household name through ongoing and persistent media relations efforts that secured more than 83 million media impressions for ENERGYguide in one year—making ENERGYguide the defacto standard resource for helping consumers lower their energy bills. 

Collaborative’s secured ongoing media coverage in the national, as well as local and regional, press and their online supplements.


National Public Radio




Los Angeles Times 

Washington Post


Wall Street Journal


Investor’s Business Daily 

USA Today 

Good Housekeeping 


Boston Globe



Collaborative positioned ENERGYguide CEO Harvey Michaels as an industry expert.  Michaels now receives direct phone calls from reporters inquiring about energy efficiency and energy deregulation.

The coverage secured by Collaborative in top tier business and consumer media outlets directly assisted ENERGYguide in securing venture capital money from GE Capital.  It also helped ENERGYguide build endless energy merchant and traffic partnerships, which are critical to the company’s success.

Media coverage continues to steadily increase the number of unique users that visit the site each month.  ENERGYguide’s Web site traffic rose to more than 100,000 unique visitors per month.  Over the course of the last year, traffic spikes have directly correlated with one of Collaborative’s story placements for ENERGYguide.  

In addition, ENERGYguide has enjoyed increased product sales and service sign-ups.   
Above and beyond our public relations goals, ENERGYguide met their business goals of driving consumer traffic and directly attributes their success to Collaborative’s high-profile PR campaign.