In March of 2001, Serta selected Chicago-based Dome Communications to execute a national brand-building media relations campaign, focusing on the factors that affect Americans’ ability to fall asleep. The “Falling Asleep: What Makes a Difference” campaign was designed to build upon Serta’s media relations effort from 2000, “Getting Ready for Bed,” and strengthen the company’s position as a leading authority on the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Prior to developing program recommendations, Dome conducted in-depth research about the current “sleep” market, compiling and analyzing competitors’ product claims; information about past and present PR tactics and promotions; and existing corporate partnerships. 
Initially, Serta hoped to tie its media relations program to the National Sleep Foundation’s National Sleep Week, slated for April 2000, believing such a partnership would help generate extensive media coverage. However, Dome learned that the National Sleep Foundation was in the midst of forming a not-yet-publicized partnership with Sealy, Serta’s largest competitor. That information led Dome to recommend a revised launch strategy.
The firm also uncovered distinctive data that would highlight the connection between weather changes and sleeping patterns. This research provided a correlation between the heat of summer and its impact on the ability to sleep. As a result, Dome recommended a revised, mid-summer launch timeframe.
The PR firm outlined several major objectives for this campaign:
  • Generate broad consumer awareness by securing 75 million media impressions
  • Achieve a stronger than industry average CPM of $3 or less
  • Ensure more than 95 percent brand mention in secured media placements
Dome’s strategy involved utilizing a nationally recognized sleep expert to reinforce Serta’s messages and provide consumers with helpful sleep tips from a trustworthy third-party source; creating an informative, lifestyle-focused campaign engaging consumers and media; and leveraging compelling results from the consumer survey to generate multiple story ideas.
Dome retained nationally recognized sleep expert Dr. Joyce Walseben to help deliver Serta’s message, and retained a respected survey company. The team focused its efforts to develop a myriad of survey questions that would generate compelling consumer feedback, culminating in interesting and customized print and broadcast story angles. 
The firm also planned a broadcast and print media effort in New York, including a satellite media tour and desk-side briefings with long lead publication editors.
Lastly, Dome incorporated a specific consumer “call to action” vehicle, encouraging consumers to visit Serta’s website for a free brochure and tips on “How to Beat the Snooze Blues.” The brochure’s purpose was two-fold: first to provide media with an additional, informative resource; and second to compel consumers to visit for more information about the brand. The brochure, which featured fun facts, FAQs and the “Four Rs of Sleep,” became integral to scheduling desk-side interviews and also served as a topic of conversation during many broadcast interviews. 
Once survey results were finalized, Dome wove the “mediagenic,” consumer-friendly statistics into several creative pieces, including two-page consumer brochures, camera-ready illustrations that depicted summertime sleep habits and highlighted survey results, a satellite media tour with tips to help adults sleep better during the summer, and a national press kit. Targeted pitches that went above and beyond the “How to sleep in summer heat” angle, focusing on audiences such as parents (how to ensure that children have the perfect sleeping environment); brides (how lack of sleep affects stressed-out brides-to-be); and general consumers (how age and geographic differences and work habits affect sleep).
The campaign kicked off with a bang, securing a survey feature posted on the Internet news service Wireless Flash News. Less than 24 hours later, Serta’s “Falling Asleep” survey results went out on the Associated Press wire. Additional national and local print placements included USA Today’s Snapshots, The Arizona Republic and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Serta’s satellite media tour secured 26 interviews reaching more than 862,000 viewers in major markets across the country, including Denver, San Diego, Phoenix, Baltimore, Spokane, Austin and Salt Lake City. Serta also had similar success with desk-side briefings, with mentions in Brides, Parents, Parenting, Glamour, Self and First For Women.
In total, the campaign generated more than 112 million media impressions at a CPM of $1.08, with 99 percent brand mention in the campaign’s media placements.