While Access Communications, a public relations agency specializing in technology, had extensive knowledge of the video game console industry, it was challenged at the beginning of 2000 with launching the world’s first online console gaming network and ISP, SegaNet.  Utilizing the Sega Dreamcast, a 128-bit, next generation video game console, SegaNet takes video game players where they want to go – online.  The task that Access Communications was challenged with was twofold.  First, in order to introduce the consumer marketplace to SegaNet, it was necessary to introduce the industry, the analyst community and the media to Sega.com, the company behind SegaNet.  Second, it was necessary to create consumer buzz surrounding SegaNet by leveraging the power of consumer media and company promotions. 
  • Communicate to business press, trade publications and the analyst community that the future of gaming is online
  • Build consumer and industry buzz for the launch of SegaNet
  • Drive consumers to sign up for SegaNet
  • Separate SegaNet from other online gaming sites – SegaNet is the only online console gaming network, built from the ground up
  • Tell the technology story – a gaming network built from the ground up, utilizing a 56K modem to deliver high speed gaming with low latency
  • Differentiate between Sega.com, the company, and SegaNet, the online gaming network
As the online console gaming market was a new and bold move for an established gaming company, it was important to educate the media and industry analysts as to the reasons why Sega.com was making this move.  Access Communications conducted an extensive media and analyst audit to paint an accurate landscape of targeted audiences and their perceptions of the marketplace.  Access Communications devoted a team of three to uncover data regarding gaming behavior patterns, market trends and predictions.  This information was then transformed into digestible bits that consumer audiences would understand and business press, industry analysts and financial analysts would find convincing.  The result was a XX page PowerPoint presentation that successfully convinced media and industry influencers that Sega.com ahead of the competition with its online strategy (presentation included). 
For the purposes of this dual launch, Access Communications targeted two distinct audiences.  For the launch of Sega.com, Access Communications targeted business press, gaming press,  industry and financial analysts.  For the launch of SegaNet, Access Communications targeted general consumer media, the gaming press and industry analysts.  Top tier publications included BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Games Business and NextGen.
To prepare for a hard push towards launch, Access Communications conducted extensive media training of company and agency spokespeople.  Access Communications prepared all press materials including media alerts, press releases, company biographies, company fact sheet and FAQ.  Additionally, Access Communications planned launch event including invitation design and coordinated logistics for a ten-city media tour.
Utilize a viral marketing media campaign to raise awareness of Sega.com to successfully launch the world’s first online console gaming network and ISP, SegaNet. 
Meeting Madness: To properly unveil Sega.com to media and industry influencers, Access Communications recommended that Sega.com conduct an extensive media and analyst tour.  Brad Huang, CEO of Sega.com traveled to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle and conducted over 100 in-person and phone interviews.
Dossier: All embargoed material was compiled into a creative, and effective, press kit that grabbed editors’ attention even after the meeting was over (included). 
Focus Group: Though there was some concern from Sega.com, Access Communications highly recommended the use of a consumer focus group to begin building buzz among gamers, to receive feedback from average consumers and to have a pool of consumer case studies available to the media.  Once convincing Sega.com, the focus group proved to be an effective tactic in building buzz among the consumer market, both through viral marketing and gaming/consumer media which targeted Sega.com’s specific demographic, males ages 18-35.
Bi-coastal Launch Events: Access Communications planned and executed a launch party/event for both media and consumers.  Leveraging the second annual sponsorship of the MTV Music Video Awards, launch parties were held in New York and San Francisco and included live online Gameplay via SegaNet, highlights from the VMAs and was attended by over 60 media and 100 consumers.  The San Francisco party featured an appearance by San Francisco mayor, Willie Brown.
The most formidable obstacle Access Communications faced was technology issues with SegaNet.  As any new network, there were minor glitches that were being constantly worked out.  Sega.com and Access Communications had committed to a hard launch date of Sept. 7, 2000 and the media were expecting greatness.  Considering the technology issues, Access Communications decided to push forward with the launch activities.  Access Communications prepared a comprehensive crisis communications plan in the event that the network was not ready to be launched on the 7th.  SegaNet launched on time and received unanimous praise from consumer and gaming media, industry analysts and, most importantly, from SegaNet users. 
As a result of this public relations campaign, Access Communications helped to drive nearly 100,000 subscribers to SegaNet in just the first thirty days.  Gaming and consumer media and industry analysts were impressed at the high number of members in such a short period of time.
Media Results – The Hard Numbers:
Sega.com Launch
SegaNet Launch
Broadcast:  Over 70 stories
Broadcast: Over 80 stories
Print: Over 100 hits
Print: Over 60 hits
Impressions: 37,000,000 +
Impressions: 35, 400, 000 +