is a Web-based online referral service that matches consumers with qualified local service professionals who address more than 485 different home service needs that range from simple repairs and maintenance to remodeling projects.  In May 2000, ServiceMagic was operating in two cities and had received virtually no media attention.  With 35 launches planned for a 7-month period, ServiceMagic wanted to accomplish four things in its launch campaign:

Firmly establish ServiceMagic as a leader in the highly competitive, brand new category of e-consumer home services

Garner significant media placements in the local markets where ServiceMagic was operating

Persuade consumers to sign up for a service request 

Convince service professionals to enroll in the online program.  

To accomplish these goals, quick and substantial local and national media coverage was required.  A three-fold approach was taken to achieve our objectives:

  • A network of 23 public relations firms was formed by hiring IPREX partners in launching markets to execute the task of local media relations.  JohnstonWells believes that local media relations are most successful when executed by local firms.  To provide the best possible client service JohnstonWells formed this network and shared the wealth.
  • An Extranet site was created to facilitate the communications and reporting between the partner firms and ServiceMagic.  
  • JohnstonWells took responsibility for all national media efforts, while acting as quarterback and coach of the entire launch operation.

The launch generated more than 203 million media impressions in less than nine months.  ServiceMagic received more than 450,000 unique visitors to its Web site since June.

JohnstonWells acquired research from:

  • National e-commerce authorities 
  • The December 2000 Kelsey Report 
  • The April 2000 E*Offerings Report 
  • National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI)

Our planning process was extensive:

  • JohnstonWells created detailed timetables, pitch charts, budgets and strategies for communicating with partner firms. 
  • Interviewed PR firms in each of the launching markets, beginning with our IPREX partners to obtain public relations participants in the local markets.
  • Developed Extranet site.
  • Wrote templated releases, bylined articles and case studies.
  • Conducted two partner firm meetings in Denver.


To execute as an organization, not just a collection of individual firms.

Achieve an average of 6 media placements in each local market.

Trade publications: Secure an average of two placements in leading trade publications in each of the 18-category type and trade groups identified by ServiceMagic.

Consumer publications:  Secure a minimum of three placements in national consumer publications by Dec 31, 2000.

Business publications:  Secure a minimum of three placements in national business publications by Dec 31, 2000.

Technology publications:  Secure a minimum of three placements in national consumer publications by Dec 31, 2000.


Support all 23 of the partner firms, and respond quickly to all requests.

Provide fresh and timely materials (news releases, fact sheets, biographies, Q&A, time lines, style guides) in template format, allowing individual firms to adapt to the local market.

Execute all administrative tasks, including contracts, billing, clipping, W-9s, Extranet, client management and clipping measurement.

Leverage our partner firms’ knowledge and expertise in the local markets.

Generate new ideas and gain national media contacts. 

Maintain constant communication with the partner firms.


Two network meetings with the partner public relations firms were held in Denver to prepare the partners for launch.  Comprehensive ServiceMagic training manuals that quickly brought the partner firms up-to-speed were provided by JohnstonWells.  ServiceMagic’s public relations director and director of marketing presented materials and answered questions.  The face-to-face meetings among all the involved agencies and the client resulted in agency confidence, the opportunity to directly ask questions of the client and an open exchange of ideas. 


Designed to minimize account management expenses by collecting data in an efficient manner and offering a central location for reporting. 

Aimed at providing a “real time” reporting tool providing current information on media activities at the click of a button.

Provided an easy and efficient means of submitting reports, monitoring progress, sharing ideas and downloading materials.

Sections included:

  • Events Calendar
  • Alerts
  • News Releases/Press Materials
  • Bios/Company Info
  • Backgrounders
  • FAQ
  • Media Monitoring
  • Add Press Clip
  • Progress Reports
  • Add Your Report
  • Media Pitches
  • Add Media Pitch
  • Industry Research and Statistics
  • Special Bulletins/News Flashes


Positive survey results from partner firms regarding the network meetings and their overall experiences.

The ServiceMagic Extranet site was widely used and proved to be an effective tool for reporting and communicating between JohnstonWells, the partner firms and ServiceMagic.

More than 203 million total media impressions in less than 9 months.

National media placement in: Parade Magazine, Woman’s Day, Real Simple,, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, [email protected] Week, The Industry Standard, Context and PC Magazine.

All national and local media relations objectives were met or exceeded including:

  • Atlanta – 9 consumer placements
  • Cincinnati – 8 consumer placements
  • Denver – 23 consumer placements
  • Detroit – 10 consumer placements
  • National consumer – 5 placements
  • National business – 7 placements
  • National technology – 4 placements
  • National trade – 40 placements
Minneapolis – 16 consumer placements