In early 1999 Derivion came to Langdon Starr Ketchum with a mandate to increase its profile with media and key stakeholders in Canada.  As a dynamic young company in the rapidly emerging and highly competitive Internet billing industry, Derivion Corporation sought to break from the crowd and differentiate itself not only as a leading technology provider, but also as a thought leader offering value-added strategic advice to its business customers.   LSK developed a comprehensive public relations program with a strong focus on media relations and executive presence   The results after the first year of implementation have exceeded expectations:  Derivion went from nine news releases in 1999 resulting in zero media coverage, to ten releases resulting in close to 10 million media impressions from multiple articles in national newspapers, a leading news magazine, and industry and trade publications.  Derivion also established itself as an industry leader in Canada, a position solidified by public support it has received from key partners EPOST and e-route.
The opportunity LSK sought was to help Derivion identify and embrace a core issue on which it could speak out and be heard by media and by its existing and potential business partners.   Our objective was to identify an issue through which Derivion could make an important contribution to the continued development of e-commerce technologies and their adoption by consumers, offering tangible benefits to online businesses and their customers alike.   LSK had to factor two key challenges into our plans.  The first -- to overcome Canadian media’s perception of Atlanta and Toronto-based Derivion as purely “American” company.  The second -- to work within a media environment characterized by increasingly negative perceptions and attitudes toward “dot-coms.”

Conducted an omnibus survey in April 2000 of Canadian consumers’ perceptions of e-billing.  1 in 3 consumers cited privacy and security concerns as the primary reasons preventing them from paying their bills online.
Conducted a survey in May 2000 of Canadian billers’ attitudes toward e-billing.

Presented the results to the client’s sales team and gathered feedback on issues identified by business customers. 

Conducted a comprehensive review of media coverage of e-commerce issues – the findings reinforced the fact that privacy is one of the most important issues for consumers.   Research also identified that there was no original research available on Canadian consumer opinions and attitudes.

Gathered and reviewed research conducted by other organizations.

With pending legislation in both Canada and the U.S., reviewed third-party submissions, discussion papers, bills and proposed regulations to gain an understanding of the legislative environment and timing of key initiatives.  
Identified key journalists and publications covering privacy; identified key advocacy groups and industry organizations interested in privacy; with Derivion’s sales team, identified contacts in the business community.

  • Raise Derivion’s profile as a leading e-billing technology provider and increase media coverage from zero in 1999 (nine news releases) to coverage in at least one major daily as well as technical and industry publications
  • Establish Derivion as a thought leader within the e-billing industry in Canada and the U.S.
  • Position Derivion as a privacy advocate, and Dushyant Sharma as an expert on privacy and e-billing
  • Primary: Business, trade and consumer media in Canada; existing and potential business customers
  • Secondary: Business, trade and consumer media in the U.S.; consumers; business associations
  • Leverage Canadian partnership and customer announcements, as well as story angles on the company’s strong R&D presence in Canada, to continue to build awareness with Canadian media
  • Involve Derivion’s Chief Technology Officer in public discussion on privacy through membership in an international advocacy group
  • Based on the original omnibus survey and information gathered through original and secondary research, develop a new survey to probe Canadian consumers’ attitudes on Internet privacy
  • Using the new survey’s findings, develop recommendations for initiatives companies can take to boost consumer confidence in online activities.  Integrate the research findings and recommendations into existing adoption marketing programs and offer them to existing and potential customers
  • Obtain endorsements from key third-party influencers
Key Messages:
  • Derivion is committed to building its business in Canada
  • E-billing is coming of age and Derivion has the technology to get Canadian businesses ready
  • Four in ten Canadian Internet users would be more willing to pay their bills online if they were assured their privacy would be respected
  • Research reinforces that protecting consumer privacy is in the best interests of e-billing solutions providers and companies adopting EBPP 
Budget:  Monthly fees of approximately Cdn $24,000; Privacy event = Cdn $20,000 fees; Cdn $50,000 expenses
Build the company’s profile in Canada
Working with the company’s Canadian office, LSK created news releases focusing on Canadian news including an introductory news release focusing on the co-founder’s commitment to Canada, as well as releases announcing the findings of research studies commissioned by Derivion on e-billing in Canada
LSK leveraged Derivion’s trade show participation to generate media interest and build relationships

Demonstrate the company’s commitment to the issue of online privacy: 

    LSK arranged for Derivion’s membership in the Personalization Consortium and its Education Committee

    LSK commissioned The Gallup Organization to conduct a survey on consumer privacy and e-billing

Build interest in Derivion and its commitment to privacy; lay the groundwork for the upcoming media event

Over the course of 2000, Derivion announced new contracts in Canada through joint news releases and distributed, on a targeted basis, new contracts with U.S. companies that either had name recognition in Canada or that were of interest within a particular vertical sector

Closer to the event, and to build media interest, Derivion announced its membership in the Personalization Consortium and referenced its soon-to-be released research findings two weeks prior to the event 

Derivion leveraged a new Canadian contract to speak out on e-billing industry trends in Canada through a news release issued the week prior to the event 

General and targeted media alerts were sent out in the days prior to the event.

Voice the company’s commitment through a major event

Derivion hosted a news conference to announce the results of its research and launch its recommendations to online businesses.  In addition to Gallup’s presentation of the research findings, and Derivion’s presentation of the “Six Principles”, the heads of two leading electronic document delivery organizations (EPOST and e-route inc.) joined Derivion’s CTO in a panel discussion on Internet privacy

The audience also included members of the local Toronto business community and potential clients

A toll-free number enabled media access from across the country and from the U.S.

Broadcast coverage of the event was sent directly from the venue to newsrooms in the Toronto area

A media kit including the news release announcing the research results and Derivion’s “Six Principles to Boost Consumer Confidence” was available on site, e-mailed to a key list of journalists and on the web site

Media B-roll of the news conference was packaged and made available following the event
Objective #1:  Raise Derivion’s profile – Derivion went from zero coverage in 1999 to multiple articles in national newspapers, a leading Canadian newsmagazine, local papers and industry publications

Objective #2:  Establish Derivion as a thought leader -- The Presidents of the two leading industry players in Canada endorsed Derivion’s privacy initiative at the news conference and provided quotes for the news release
Objective #3:  Position Derivion as a privacy advocate -- Media coverage of the privacy event exceeded expectations with more than 20 hits and more than 5.3 million impressions in Canada -- the news conference achieved national print and broadcast coverage in Canada with strong pick-up of the key messages of the company’s commitment to privacy and its six principles to boost consumer confidence in e-commerce. 
The privacy research was picked up by a leading Canadian business association and featured on its homepage; potential customers and other industry associations attended the news conference and circulated information on the research to their business members