ScanSoft is probably best known amongst those of us who are continually trying to “tame the paper tiger” or move towards a paperless office.  In short, they are paper management pros that develop software to turn all types of paper - text, photos, images - into electronic documents to be viewed and stored on a PC.  So when this traditionally PC products company needed to make a big move into the hot Internet market, it relied on Collaborative Communications to get them there.  Our mission was to utilize public relations to successfully launch a software product called Paper Converter.  Although sales expectations were high, ScanSoft decided to use public relations as the primary vehicle for marketplace awareness.  When we took on our assignment, we rolled up our sleeves and prepared for the challenge, never imagining just how much our hard work would pay off in the end.


The Paper Converter campaign faced two distinct obstacles.  First, we were targeting an entirely new set of journalists and publications.  In the past, ScanSoft enjoyed the luxury of having a well-known brand name with a niche group of writers focused on the scanning and paper management markets.  Paper Converter had to capture the attention of the technology trade media focused on the noisy Internet market.  We were suddenly the new kid on the block, a status that required going the extra mile to be heard and accepted as a player.  A second obstacle was the inevitable skepticism that Paper Converter could perform the feats we promised.  Technology journalists are both savvy and dubious about “revolutionary” new Internet products.  How could something as complex as a brochure really become a good-looking web page so quickly and easily?  The media thought this was fiction.  We had to prove it could be done.  

The Planning Process: Set Objectives and Research, Research, Research

Given a small campaign budget of $40,000 and a short 3-month timeframe, Collaborative needed to be savvy about setting clear, concise objectives.  We focused in on two key goals:

Push ScanSoft into a new market segment – Internet products.  In the past, ScanSoft’s products were widely recognized on the retail shelves in the scanning software section but literally unknown in the crowded Web products market.  

Secure rave reviews to build credibility for Paper Converter.  Stellar reviews and endorsements from the trusted technology trade press and local technology columnists would be key in convincing readers to head to their local stores to purchase the product.  

Once our objectives were clearly laid out, we turned to research, an important aspect of every successful campaign.  To communicate the true value of Paper Converter, we needed to analyze what was going on in the scan-to-Web market.  In addition to conducting a thorough assessment of the competitors’ solutions, we referred to several surveys of scanner users and Web page publishers.  Surprisingly, our research revealed that people held one common belief:  turning paper documents into great looking Web pages without a struggle was an impossible task.  Although almost everyone indicated a need to incorporate paper into Web sites, very few had found a solution that wasn’t too complicated, expensive or time consuming.  The desire for Paper Converter was there, but the doubt factor was significant.  Our results confirmed that we needed to pursue a simple approach to prove the impossible was possible with Paper Converter.  

A second aspect of our research process required a thorough analysis of the publications and journalists we planned to target.  We scoured the technology trade publications, mainstream consumer publications, business publications and daily papers until we had a focused list of journalists reporting on Web publishing, Internet products and easy-to-use consumer technologies in a wide range of print, online and broadcast media.  The technology trade press formed the foundation and most significant piece of our target list – if we couldn’t capture the attention of these reporters, the campaign would not be successful.


We put together our objectives, research results and target media list and began to plan our media approach.  Collaborative decided to educate the media on the ease of posting paper documents to the Web.  Reporters would need product demonstrations to fully appreciate how Paper Converter could turn a magazine page into a crisp Web image.  We learned that the product’s ease of use and incredible results could be achieved with three clicks of the mouse. This fact alone presented measurable value to both business and consumer users with limited time and resources but loads of paper documents.  

The Launch: “3 Clicks to The Web” Campaign Hits from Coast to Coast

Focusing on the instant benefits of Paper Converter, Collaborative put together a campaign entitled “3 Clicks to the Web.”  We compiled a media list that focused on a wide band of media, including computer trade press and technology columns in the local media.  Must-haves included PC Magazine, PC Week and a nationally syndicated technology columnist.

In order to achieve our objectives, Collaborative focused our media outreach in three areas.  First, we secured coverage with editors focused on Internet products at well-known technology publications to build credibility for the company as an Internet player.  Secondly, we focused on key reviewers at technology trade publications and several mainstream publications in order to build brand awareness and educate a large consumer audience.  Finally, we targeted several influential syndicated technology columns that would have widespread local consumer appeal.  

We set up an intensive two-week, bi-coastal tour for ScanSoft’s director of product marketing that included 25 press and analyst meetings.  We held media briefings and product demos with top tier publications including CNET, PC Week, PC Magazine, PC World and The Washington Post.  In addition to setting appointments, Collaborative pitched the media for reviews and news over several weeks, conducting outreach to over 100 publications.  Over 30 reviewers who expressed interest in reviewing Paper Converter were sent review copies of the software.  


Collaborative’s results were outstanding.  We met each of our objectives and went on to exceed expectations.  The “3 Clicks to the Web” campaign achieved more than 5 million media impressions.  More than 30 publications covered Paper Converter over the 3 months following the launch, including top technology magazines such as PC Magazine, Small Business Computing and PC Week.  A hard to get review in the well-known “On Computers” column was syndicated across 30 local newspapers and wire services in nine countries, including the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and the Kansas City Star.  Paper Converter even received a coveted feature review in one of Wall Street’s most widely read papers, Investor’s Business Daily.  Feature stories, product reviews, radio broadcasts and more made Paper Converter a hit!

PC “How cool would it be if you could just feed a brochure or product sheet into a scanner and have it magically turn into a Web page? A new program from ScanSoft does exactly that.”

Bob Schwabach, syndicated columnist:  “The simplest way to get a product brochure, spec sheet or any other document into a Web site is through Paper Converter from ScanSoft.”
Collaborative’s “3 Clicks to the Web” campaign put ScanSoft’s stake in the ground in the Internet products market, firmly establishing the company as a player in this important arena while paving the way for future Web product expansion.