Mobilocity joined Miller/Shandwick Technologies as a client in August 2000. The company, which provides mobile research and consulting services, launched in February 2000. Being a young company still in start-up mode, Mobilocity was eager to gain industry recognition through press opportunities. The company wanted to target the business press, because the executives felt that this media would be able to convey the business value that Mobilocity was adding to the wireless space. In addition, the company founders were feeling pressures from its investors to start gaining traction with the business press.
The challenge in this case was twofold: First, the business press does not, as a rule, cover non-public companies without a customer reference. Mobilocity had a number of customers in financial services, but due to the nature of the consulting engagements, it could not mention these customers. There would not be a “media-ready” customer until January 2001. Second, Mobilocity was competing with many other companies (a good number of them public) that were newsmakers in what was becoming (in August) an over-hyped segment of the market (wireless).
Miller/Shandwick Technologies planned a West Coast Media Tour in late-October. The purpose of the tour was to raise the profile of the company and its chairman and co-founder, Omar Javaid, in the press. We wanted to target the business publications: Red Herring, Business 2.0 and Industry Standard. Our objective was to gain meetings with as many of the magazines as possible to begin fostering the relationships with key editors and reporters.
Although the company did not have clients at the time, it did publish a weekly online newsletter, M-Insights. This newsletter contained the founders’ “take” on industry news for the past week. It also contained a “Spotlight” section that provided in-depth commentary on an issue important to the mobile/wireless space. Mobilocity is vendor-, platform- and technology-neutral, which means that it has no ties to any device manufacturer or application developer. It therefore had validity in providing neutral commentary.
Omar knew aspects of the mobile market better than some of the business reporters. Our strategy was to “sell” Omar’s capabilities by using the “Spotlights” in our pitching and to offer Omar as a resource.
We began pitching in mid-September, after we had worked with the company on media training and messaging. In our approach, we acknowledged to the reporters that they would not have heard of the company or its founder at this point. We also said that Omar would prove to be a valuable resource in the present, and that Mobilocity would prove to be a company that would succeed in the future. We discussed the points in the “Spotlights” to give each reporter an overview of Omar’s scope and vision.
We booked a number of appointments, and the one that best met our key criteria was with Lydia Lee of the Industry Standard. We met with Lydia on November 10, and what was scheduled to be an hour interview, stretched into nearly two hours.
Lydia, although skeptical at first, soon found Omar to be as knowledgeable and interesting as we had promised. She indicated that she would like to use Omar as a source in the future.
We conducted follow up with Lydia, and in the following two weeks she used Omar as a source for an article that she was writing. Lydia also put Omar in touch with Josh Newman, a freelance writer who was writing a piece for the Standard. The article was scheduled to appear in January. Josh interviewed Omar, and the resulting article featured both Omar and Mobilocity in great detail.