REPRESENTING A COMPANY AND ITS MULTI BRAND DIVISIONS
Downloadable File: Promoting a multibrand company.doc
SONICblue offers a good opportunity to discuss our work for a multi-brand company. Three years ago, the company was called S3 and was in the graphics chip business. The new CEO, Ken Potashner, foresaw a rapid decline in the industry; looked at what technology S3 had in the lab and decided to refocus on the consumer electronics business. He also had a lot of cash from good company investments, so he began buying other small, struggling electronics companies. Soon, SONICblue owned Diamond Multimedia, with the Diamond, Frontpath and Rio brands; ReplayTV and Go-Video. He also had several PR agencies, inherited with various acquisitions, including one that had launched the new SONICblue brand, achieving very little name awareness.
The Bohle Company was hired to raise visibility for the company new name, while sustaining the four original product brands, several of them far more established than the parent. Our responsibility has included financial relations, as well.
·Establish SONICblue as a major player in the digital media space
·Achieve a leadership position for each of SONICblue’s product lines
·Increase share price for the company
Each of the individual brands had had its own PR agency and a budget far exceeding their new corporate allocation. We had to produce better results on less money, while keeping everyone happy. Efficient time allocation was key – as well as conscientious reporting back to each general manager. We developed a separate program for each GM, made the marketing contacts feel important and worked our tails off.
Another challenge was coordination on the timing, approval and distribution of press releases. When SONICblue had three agencies, this was a severe problem. Each brand operated independently and jealousy and fighting erupted when a big customer was about to be announced.
To solve this problem, TBC created a SONICblue PR handbook, which outlined responsibilities, PR spokespersons for various issues and approval processes for releases. This helped enormously with coordination.
Once The Bohle Company assumed leadership over all three agencies (after a competitive runoff), things began to work smoothly and both territorial and timing issues were solved.
·Position the CEO as a visionary on the home of the future
·Seize every opportunity to get the company into the business press
·Generate major buzz for the company at CES, the most important trade show for consumer electronics companies
·Improve the way product launches were done; use first breaks with key editors; introduce strong, monitored review programs; emphasize product of the year wins
Working with the CEO, we established an umbrella positioning for the company:
SONICblue develops disruptive products than are changing the way consumers enjoy entertainment.
Each product line also had a positioning statement and key messages that emphasized the common features that distinguished that line.
·National Business Publication Pitches: We requested the CEO put aside two hours a week for business publication work. A half dozen angles were developed. Each month, we drafted new pitches for the national business publications. We also followed the news, offering the CEO and CTO to comment on industry issues and trends.
·Separate Product Brand PR Programs: Promotion of the product lines was strengthened by The Bohle Company’s strength with the tech writers at all the national early adopter, consumer and business publications. Separate PR programs were set up for each brand. Products were rolled out with media tours to key media markets. Monitored review programs were put into place. Reviewer guides were written for the first time. A holiday gift program, including b-roll for TV stations and a late summer media tour was added.
·Investor/Industry Analyst Relations: The Bohle Company arranged for SONICblue’s CEO to do an update tour to New York and Boston where he did a corporate presentation on SONICblue’s company strategy. West Coast meetings were handled with one-on-one meetings in the company’s corporate offices.
·Trade Show: After several years offsite in a country club location, SONICblue went back on the floor at CES where The Bohle Company arranged a whopping 85 pre-booked interviews with trade enthusiast and business press and pulled another 115 editors out of the aisles and into the booth for product demonstrations.
Because most of SONICblue’s product lines were in the digital space, we were able to do annual combined industry analyst tours. TBC uses an 8-person team, with a lead for each brand and VP supervising corporate activity. In the case of company news announcements, the corporate team handles business publications and the marketing team handles trade media.
·SONICblue’s CEO started being quoted in all the industry trend articles in the national business publications. Profiles in Forbes online, BusinessWeek online, the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg magazine made the company more visible to investors; strategic partnership opportunities were increased
·SONICblue’s products started being reviewed in all the right places. TBC arranged a first and then a second column with Walter Mossberg in The Wall Street Journal. By late fall SONICblue products were winning more than their share of “Product of the Year” accolades
·Editors call us to get a chance to interview the CEO on industry issues
·All of the product brands are thriving, while SONICblue’s corporate brand is now well established (without any advertising support over this period)