After Citrix Systems, the global leader in virtual workplace software and services, announced in November 2001 that it would introduce a second major product line to significantly expand its market share despite a struggling economy, the PR team (Citrix corporate communications and Greenough Communications) was charged with orchestrating a complex corporate and product positioning campaign with both media and industry analyst audiences.
The goal: within eight months, execute a global, multimedia launch of a product that would strengthen Citrix’s position as a strong, focused software leader and expand enterprise standardization on Citrix technology.
 Citrix’s market presence has frequently been characterized as a “mile wide and an inch deep.” Despite having over 120,000 customers, including all of the Fortune 100, 95 percent of the Fortune 500 and 70 percent of the Financial Times FT 500, the company’s flagship application serving software product (MetaFrame) has historically been implemented at the departmental level within large organizations, with few enterprise-wide standardizations.
Market research firm IDC has estimated that Citrix owns more than 76 percent of the server-based computing market share and other firms have placed that number even higher. However, Citrix needed to expand its addressable market with an additional product family to continue to grow revenue at the rate it had become accustomed to. At the same time, the company could not introduce a product that would place it in direct competition with other companies that had been key partners.
Logically, the next stage of application access was portals – Web-based interfaces that provide anywhere, anytime access to the information and applications that companies need to effectively conduct business – however, many vendors had already been making noise in the space, including the aforementioned key Citrix partners.
However, as a company known for its mantra of “anywhere, anytime” application access, the portal market was a natural fit for Citrix. As a result, Citrix defined its portal product as an “access portal” that could be used both independently by customers to extend application access as an extension of their MetaFrame environments or in conjunction with full featured enterprise information portal (EIP) platforms offered by other vendors.
By launching NFuse Elite, the industry’s first access portal server, Citrix’s goal was to deepen customer penetration and intensify its pursuit of becoming the enterprise standard for business access.
The potential for Citrix to continue to shape its reputation and stake out a leadership role in the portal server market had never been greater. As more influential audiences began to understand the need for portal solutions that aggregate and simplify access to applications and information, Citrix had an opportunity to break through the market din by exploiting its unique differentiators – its massive installed customer base and formidable 6,000-member reseller channel – one of the largest software channels in the world.
Following the announcement that Citrix would embark on this new product direction, the PR Team immediately set about the task of educating media and analyst influencers who focus on the portal market in order to create buzz about the company’s forthcoming product family, which would ultimately prove the validity and viability of Citrix in a new Web-centric world. In short, we had to execute the most significant product launch in Citrix’s history by June in order to help drive initial sales of the product in the second half of 2002.
An extensive amount of research was conducted in order to develop effective messaging and outreach strategies for NFuse Elite. First, the PR Team researched key media and industry analysts who significantly influenced the portal product marketplace to ensure that the messages would be reaching the right people quickly. In addition, Citrix conducted exhaustive customer/reseller surveys and contracted industry consultants to review the projected features and marketing plans for NFuse Elite to ensure technical requirements were fulfilled and clarity of messaging was achieved.
In preparation for the NFuse Elite launch event, creative approaches and successful execution strategies for major software product launches was researched. Finally, in order to ensure broadcast coverage, a “broadcast exclusive” strategy to secure appearances on influential financial television programs that rarely cover product launches was developed – particularly those without a consumer angle.
It was determined that a corporate strategy angle would work best, highlighting that Citrix was performing the hardest thing that any software company can do: launching a second major product line. Few companies have done it as successfully as their first.
Greenough’s eight month campaign consisted of three primary phases:
· The Build-Up: continuously educating and conditioning key new media/analyst audiences about Citrix’s portal strategy and forthcoming portal offerings;
· The Preview: demonstrating Citrix’s portal technology, NFuse Elite, at the company’s Solutions Summit reseller event in March 2002 to build excitement and support among Citrix’s reseller channel; and
· The Launch: announcing the availability of NFuse Elite to a global audience through in-person meetings, television appearances, print media coverage, a global Web cast and a high-profile launch event in New York City.
The NFuse Elite launch in June consisted of five main initiatives: opening of the NASDAQ Marketsite; blanket coverage across business broadcast media outlets (CNBC, Bloomberg, etc.); extensive media/analyst road show throughout the U.S. and Canada; global Web cast featuring key executives, partners and customers; and launch event at the exclusive SPA club (a play on the NFuse Elite “SPA” message) in New York City for 600 customers, resellers, partners, media and analyst guests.
 Launch planning was conducted over a period of eight months and the PR Team was intimately involved in the message development and logistical planning for the launch, including scripting, filming and execution of a global Web cast. The event was measurably the most significant in Citrix’s history – with intense international coordination to secure worldwide coverage, uncompromising media recruitment strategies, onsite red carpet treatment of the press/analyst attendees and aggressive follow-up with those not attending or meeting with executives during launch week.
 Although the launch of NFuse Elite was scheduled for June, the groundwork began almost a year in advance because it was not realistic to expect tomeet coverage goals with media and analysts who cover the portal marketplace without first seeding relationships and building awareness of Citrix in the category.
Before and during the launch, tailored pitches framed Citrix’s integration of portal technology in context of the company’s overarching vision of a “Virtual Workplace,” which enables enterprise customers to access personalized applications and information from any location. Through editorial briefings, customer success stories placements, as well as an intense industry analyst presentation/feedback day, outreach emphasized how the integration of portal technology was the next logical step in Citrix’s evolution, enabling it to increase its value proposition to enterprise organizations by embracing the future of the Web world.
The PR team continuously expanded its target list of influencers and proactively executed on every available opportunity to communicate Citrix’s aggressive entrance into the portal market.
The PR team achieved and surpassed every established goal, educating top business and financial media, information technology trade press, and key industry and financial analysts about the company’s expanded product direction and vision for the Virtual Workplace. The success of the campaign reached critical mass at the NFuse Elite launch in June, when: more than twenty articles appeared in leading national business and financial outlets including Investor’s Business Daily, Reuters and BusinessWeek; seven national television broadcast features were aired including Bloomberg, CNBC (exclusive product unveiling), CNNfn and Reuters Television; eighty-seven stories were published in North American IT trade publications, including a cover story and three feature stories in both top IT channel/reseller publications, CRN and VARBusiness; twenty-eight industry analyst reports were written; more than 600 guests attended the launch event at New York’s SPA; and 50 media, industry analysts and financial analysts participated in in-person executive briefings.
 In addition, more than 2,000 individuals around the world participated in the Greenough-produced interactive Web cast. As a result of the campaign, and in less than six months on the market, the NFuse Elite access portal server has generated more than 100 large sales, with hundreds more customers currently in the sales pipeline.