For the past several years, e-learning, or Internet based learning, has become an intense and fast-growing industry.  The corporate e-learning landscape alone is highly populated with as many as two hundred established companies and more entering the field everyday.  Realizing that the e-learning space is very crowded, Intellinex decided they would need an innovative program to draw publicity and a sense of excitement for their company launch.  Intellinex created and implemented a communications plan that would generate media and employee excitement and make Intellinex’s launch stand out among the heavily populated e-learning space - all within a period of 90 days.  The title of the program was “Intellinex Live Tour 2000” and incorporated a music concert theme to excite the employees and an executive media “tour” by teleconference.
Intellinex researched and monitored 23 of their key competitors.  The research centered on a review of information obtained from the competitors’ Web sites and media reports.  This research provided an overview of the industry and pointed to areas in which Intellinex could emerge as a leader, create excitement among employees and generate media coverage.
In addition, Intellinex soft-sounded the media to gauge knowledge of e-learning and market saturation.  Intellinex also worked closely with a reporter at the New York Times to flush out newsworthy aspects of the launch and get exclusive coverage of the launch in the Times.
Targeted Audience
  • C-suite at Fortune 1000 companies, including CIO’s
  • Influential analysts
  • The investment community
  • Current and potential customers
  • Human Resources/training professionals
  • Targeted media (national, regional, local)
  • Intellinex employees
  • Create a buzz about Intellinex among the targeted audience
  • Introduce Intellinex to begin building a national identity
  • Communicate key messages and national identity to the employees to create a sense of pride and excitement
  • Focus on key business media targets that reach the targeted audience including national media outlets
  • Leverage the strong Ernst & Young connection and heritage to generate media attention
  • Provide information to employees on a regular and consistent basis during and after the launch
Pre-Launch – “Soundcheck” with audiences
Intellinex Press Kit –Intellinex developed a distinctive package for its press kit to engage the media and educate them about the company and the e-learning market.  The kit was used for pre-launch and post-launch media relations and was posted in the Intellinex online pressroom.  The kit included: press release, executive bios, Intellinex fact sheet, and e-learning backgrounder.
Media Training –Key Intellinex executives were media trained through a half-day program.  This intense and interactive program was tailored to the launch and provided participants with the skills, tips and knowledge needed to succeed in delivering Intellinex messages to key media audiences.  The program included simulated newspaper and TV interviews, as well as videotaping and personal coaching.
Media Pitching – Three to four weeks prior to launch: Intellinex contacted reporters at top media targets to determine their knowledge and interest in e-learning and developed pitch angles/letters/emails accordingly.  Two weeks prior to launch: Intellinex began contacting media to inform them of the launch conference call with Ernst & Young chairman, Phil Laskaway and Intellinex chairman, Mike Powers.  One week prior to launch: Intellinex continued aggressive follow-up with potential media targets and sent background materials to all media.
Teasers on Intellinex Intranet site – The week before the launch, Intellinex placed teasers on their new Intranet site, iSpace, to generate excitement and intrigue for the launch. 
Launch Day – Intellinex goes “Live”
Media Tour/Launch Announcement release – Intellinex chairman and Ernst & Young chairman conducted a “media tour” conference call for key national media outlets to officially launch Intellinex.  The launch press release was distributed electronically to media outlets nationwide via PR Newswire. 
Media Pitching – After distributing the launch announcement, Intellinex “pitched” their story to key media targets, a process that relied heavily on telephone calls to editors and reporters.  The goal was to increase coverage and schedule media opportunities on the day of the launch and in the weeks following the announcement.  
Media Monitoring – Intellinex worked with local and national media monitoring services to track coverage of the launch.  All coverage was uploaded to their intranet for employees to view to build excitement. 
Employee Celebration – Intellinex planned launch parties in their three main locations: Cleveland, Dallas and McLean, VA, to celebrate Intellinex going live with the media.  The parties included on-site concerts, lunch, a video message from Mike Powers and a champagne toast led by an Intellinex executive.  During the party, Intellinex also received gift packages to commemorate “Intellinex Live.”  These packages included a concert t-shirt, a concert poster, a company brochure, a CD-ROM screensaver and a carrying bag.
Reports from the Road – Throughout the day, Intellinex executives called back to the launch parties already in progress at the offices.  They kept the employees informed and excited about their launch to the media with regular reports on their interviews.
Create a buzz about Intellinex among the targeted audience: Intellinex received an abundance of media coverage with an article on the front page of the New York Times’ business section two days before the launch, a piece in Investor’s Business Daily the day before the launch and coverage in several other regional publications.  The company got their employees involved and excited with launch parties in each of their three main locations. 
Introduce Intellinex to begin building a national identity: The Intellinex launch created media impressions of more than three-quarters of a million with coverage in the New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily and other trade and regional publications in and around Cleveland, Dallas, and McLean, VA.
Communicate key messages and national identity to the employees to create a sense of pride and excitement: A large number of Intellinex employees attended the launch parties in their city where they received t-shirts, posters, company brochures and watched a video of their chairman, Mike Powers, talking about the company’s mission.  All of these souvenir items reinforced the company’s key messages and mission while creating pride and excitement.  In addition, the employees were kept informed of the media coverage created by the launch throughout the day through their Intranet.  This steady stream of information built excitement throughout the day and created a sense of pride in a nationally recognized e-learning leader.