Paul Holmes 28 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
This nomination highlights the launch of ClickStamp 2.0, PitneyWorks' Internet postage product. In order to differentiate ClickStamp 2.0 from the competition and get people to “sit up and take notice,” Citigate Cunningham employed a focused public relations strategy to effectively introduce ClickStamp 2.0 to key product reviewers, media influencers and thought leaders, while building awareness and creating demand among small business owners.
The campaign’s results merit attention and recognition because it helped PitneyWorks move from the fringe of an uncertain Internet postage market to the market leader and highlighted ClickStamp’s relevance as part of PitneyWorks’ suite of small business Internet-based products. Today, industry experts overwhelmingly agree that the success of Internet postage will be tied to a strong suite of small business tools and have slotted PitneyWorks as a solid player in the market. Citigate Cunningham's strategic focus and thoughtful tactical outreach served to jumpstart PitneyWorks' momentum in a rapidly shifting market, establishing mindshare and credibility among key influencers and laying a strong foundation for subsequent announcements and initiatives.
In Q3 2000, PitneyWorks entered a crucial phase in its evolution as the small business Internet division of postage-meter-giant Pitney Bowes. Lurking in the shadow of its much-anticipated ClickStamp 2.0 launch (rev 2.0 of its online postage product), Internet postage, once touted as “the next killer app.,” was being downplayed by media and analysts as having a “dubious future.” In addition, PitneyWorks had been continually criticized for its late introduction in Q1 2000 of ClickStamp 1.0, months after its “nimble” dot-com competitors — so existed a lingering “late-to-market” perception. PitneyWorks needed to separate from the pack by positioning itself as a total solutions provider for small businesses, emphasizing Internet postage as part of a suite of solutions versus a standalone product.
RESEARCH, PLANNING PROCESS AND OBJECTIVES
For this launch, Citigate Cunningham extensively researched media to participate in a product reviews program, as well as the most influential media and analysts involved in the Internet postage and small business solutions dialogue.
The objectives of the campaign were to:
- Position PitneyWorks as a company that understands the needs of small businesses and provides them with a suite of simple, easy-to-use tools
- Build awareness of ClickStamp 2.0 among key influencers and create product demand among small business owners
ClickStamp offered PitneyWorks the opportunity to launch its first PC postage product as the cornerstone of its overall strategic vision, or roadmap, for the PitneyWorks brand. Therefore, it was important that the product launch strategy be closely aligned with the overall brand positioning strategy.
In order to de-position the competition and neutralize concerns about ClickStamp’s late-to-market release, PitneyWorks needed to focus on the ClickStamp launch as one piece in the unfolding PitneyWorks story, leveraging its core brand strengths to stake simultaneous claims in the PC postage and small business arenas. By positioning its full suite of small business solutions against competitors’ single product offerings, PitneyWorks could elevate the “buzz” beyond a product comparison to a broader discussion of the company’s ability to provide “one-stop” shopping for the small business market. Citigate Cunningham’s strategic approach encompassed:
- A comprehensive product reviews program involving several targeted industry influencers
- Strategic timing of press release distribution to coincide with Pitney Bowes 50th anniversary of listing on the New York Stock Exchange, which included Michael Critelli, Pitney Bowes’ chairman and CEO, ringing the opening bell at the stock exchange on September 11, 2000
- Implemented a multi-tiered media approach to maximize resources and results
- Pre-announcement analyst briefings to encourage relationship-building, combined with efforts to secure an analyst quote for enhanced credibility
- Created a steady flow of information to the marketplace via planned announcements and key influencer meetings in order to build momentum for PitneyWorks and ClickStamp
- Ensured steady “drumbeat” of press by supplementing ClickStamp-related announcements with other company news (e.g., product upgrades, product announcements, research updates, etc.) to continue building the overall PitneyWorks story
- Developed scenario plans to manage potential obstacles and variables (e.g., what if the product is not ready? What if the competition pre-empts our launch with its own browser product?)
To accomplish PitneyWorks’ goals, Citigate Cunningham planned and executed an aggressive, multi-tiered strategic media and analyst relations campaign to generate momentum and anticipation in advance of the ClickStamp launch. Tactical execution of Citigate Cunningham’s campaign unfolded as follows:
Product Reviews Program — Initiated the program several weeks before the formal product launch. Citigate Cunningham sent reviewers a package containing a fact sheet, a ClickStamp 2.0 CD-ROM, a list of key differentiating features and a cover note. Participants included business and trade press from The Los Angeles Times, Information Week, Home Office Computing, Business Week Online, Postal World, Money Magazine, The House of Business and The Wall Street Journal.
Reuters Exclusive — Secured an exclusive article with writer Matthew Lewis on the ClickStamp Online 2.0 launch, which was released on the day of the launch.
VIP Media Outreach — Coordinated a VIP mailing the week prior to the announcement to ensure the message about ClickStamp 2.0 was conveyed to PitneyWorks’ most valued influencers. The VIP mailing consisted of an invitation to try ClickStamp 2.0, a computer mouse branded with the PitneyWorks logo and a mouse pad imprinted with the ClickStamp logo and PitneyWorks Web site address which included the phrase, “Click Here for Internet Postage.”
Second-Tier Media Outreach — To further build anticipation for the ClickStamp 2.0 announcement, Cunningham designed a “teaser” postcard using PitneyWorks’ own online direct mail service and mailed it to our target media list the week prior to the launch, inviting them to test the service.
Securing Analyst Quote — Worked diligently to schedule informal analyst meetings prior to the launch with two industry analysts who focus most heavily on Internet postage, Raymond Boggs of International Data Corporation and Charlie Brewer of Lyra. Citigate Cunningham successfully retrieved a quote from Boggs for inclusion in the launch press release.
Press Kit Development and Distribution — Created a press kit to mail to target media. Press kit items included: a lead press release announcing the launch, a customer testimonial sheet, three biographies of key PitneyWorks executives (Elise DeBois, Patricia Picoli and Russell Kohn), an “impact” sheet (a colorful page, designed like a stamp, that directed readers to the site to download the service and to find out more about the product), a ClickStamp 2.0 fact sheet, a PitneyWorks fact sheet and a pitch letter. The press kits that were sent via regular mail (i.e. the kits going to the second-tier media) were posted using ClickStamp Online 2.0. VIP press kits were sent via Federal Express to ensure delivery for the day of the launch.
Announcement Day — Positioning PitneyWorks as a Leading Provider of Small Business Solutions — Distributed the press release over Business Wire and supplemented with an e-mail blast to non-VIP media and analysts on September 11. Cunningham conducted proactive media outreach to a variety of business and technology-based media targets via phone, email and fax. Outlets included: wire services (Dow Jones, AP, etc.), national business publications (Money, BusinessWeek), national SOHO publications (Entrepreneur, Home Business Magazine), national consumer technology publications (Home Office Computing, Computers Made Easy), technology trades (Internet World, PC World), online technology news outlets (CNET, ZDNet), online small business news outlets (Fortune Small Business Online, Onvia.com), national daily newspapers in the top 25 DMA markets and vertical media. OBSTACLES Due to the long approval process of press material, many of the components were not approved until the Friday before the Monday launch. In addition, Citigate Cunningham had made several attempts to reach an analyst for a quote to include in the press release. At the close of business on Friday, Boggs provided a quote for inclusion in the press release and Cunningham made arrangements to adjust the distribution of the release to account for the last-minute change. Additionally, at 10 p.m. on Friday, Citigate Cunningham received the directive that no press kits were to be mailed out until further notice while a final approval was sought. At 11 a.m. the Saturday before the launch, Citigate Cunningham received approval for all materials and the kits were mailed. Constant communication with the client and the production house allowed Citigate Cunningham to meet its deadlines and have a successful launch. The agency was prepared for a pre-emptive announcement by competitors, even though it didn’t come to fruition. SUMMARY
The ClickStamp 2.0 launch definitively put PitneyWorks on the map — not only for Internet postage, but also for small business solutions — with placements in 13 media outlets, including top-tier outlets such as Reuters, Bloomberg Information TV and CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The coverage resulted in a current total circulation of over 170 million. Further, the product review program was a relationship-building success and with E-Stamp subsequently dropping out of the Internet postage space, it went from a three player market to a two player race. Coverage to date includes Fortune Small Business and Office Solutions. Influencers are embracing PitneyWorks’ suite strategy. For example, “All the firms in the market are beginning to realize that Internet postage alone is not enough to build an entire business,” said Charlie Brewer of Lyra Research.
Due to the long approval process of press material, many of the components were not approved until the Friday before the Monday launch. In addition, Citigate Cunningham had made several attempts to reach an analyst for a quote to include in the press release. At the close of business on Friday, Boggs provided a quote for inclusion in the press release and Cunningham made arrangements to adjust the distribution of the release to account for the last-minute change. Additionally, at 10 p.m. on Friday, Citigate Cunningham received the directive that no press kits were to be mailed out until further notice while a final approval was sought. At 11 a.m. the Saturday before the launch, Citigate Cunningham received approval for all materials and the kits were mailed. Constant communication with the client and the production house allowed Citigate Cunningham to meet its deadlines and have a successful launch. The agency was prepared for a pre-emptive announcement by competitors, even though it didn’t come to fruition.