March 17, 2011
MicroStrategy-Schwartz Communications PR Campaign Becomes the First to Promote Apple's iPad As a Business Intelligence DeviceBy Jim Bucci
For MicroStrategy, a business intelligence (BI) software developer, Apple's 2010 launch of the iPad wasn't simply another innovative consumer product. They saw the portable iPad as an opportunity to advance their own series of BI apps. Recognizing the iPad as a perfect fit for managers, sales representatives and content consumers, MicroStrategy was among the first companies with a business intelligence offering. They released MicroStrategy Mobile for the iPad, a free app with data analysis, reporting, graphing, dashboards, data visualization, data mining and forecasting against enterprise data within three months of the iPad's release date.
To highlight their new product and promote the iPad as a business tool, MicroStrategy tabbed Schwartz Communications. The Schwartz team capitalized on MicroStrategy's own internal deployment of the iPad, the company having purchased 400 of the devices for their employees and eventually outfitting everyone internally with iPads running MicroStrategy Mobile, as an example that their app turned the iPad into a useful mobile business intelligence device.
Schwartz launched the "Leave Your Laptop at the Office: The iPad is Here" campaign, reaching out to top media outlets with the pitch that the iPad wasn't just for consumers, but that businesses were adopting them too.
"We found that MicroStrategy was using the iPad as not just a consumer device, but as a business device and that it could be used as a business tool," says Carol McGarry, Schwartz Communications executive vice president and creative director.
By leveraging the excitement surrounding the launch of the iPad, Schwartz showcased MicroStrategy's business apps, changed consumer perception and demonstrated that the iPad was not solely an entertainment device, but also a great alternative to the laptop.
The campaign positioned MicroStrategy as an early adopter of the iPad as a business tool, while downloads of the Mobile app tripled during the campaign than in previous months.
The Challenge: Beat the Competition—Tell the MicroStrategy Trend Story Before the Opposition Does: Hired for a three-month project, Schwartz had to move quickly because time was tight. If they wanted to be the first to tell their trend story to reporters at business and tech trade press, they had to act swiftly. Already, competitors had announced that they would also be developing business intelligence apps for the iPad.
While Schwartz had to be cognizant of their competition, they also had no customers to tell their story. But, when they became aware of MicroStrategy's internal deployment of the iPad to their workforce, outfitted with the BI apps, they had a story to tell.
"Customers are the key to telling the story," says Shweta Agarwal, Schwartz Communications senior account executive. "But, you shouldn't get down if you don't have customers to tell the story. With no customers and very little time, our hands seemed tied. That is, until we learned that MicroStrategy had armed its executives and sales force with the just-released iPad, complete with its new mobile BI apps. Taking a cue, we used MicroStrategy as an example of a company that was an early adopter of the iPad and realized the potential of the iPad as a great business device."
The Strategy: Promote the iPad as a Valuable Mobile Business Intelligence Device—Highlighting MicroStrategy Mobile: While most consumers viewed the iPad as a new and nifty way to consume online content, MicroStrategy saw Apple's newest toy differently. They looked upon the iPad as the perfect platform for the consumption of business intelligence. In their opinion, such a tablet could replace paper reports in business settings.
To spread this message, Schwartz keyed in on MicroStrategy's internal deployment of the iPad and the Mobile app, making it both a newsworthy story and an example that their app made the Apple device a viable tool for not only consumers, but for businesses as well.
They brought this trend to the attention of reporters just when the initial news cycle about the iPad was on the decline. In addition to increasing interest among the industry press, they educated a broader swath of media about corporate adoption of the iPad.
The Results: Downloads of MicroStrategy Mobile Triples—Coverage Secured in Top Biz Publications: The extensive coverage contributed to three times more downloads of the MicroStrategy Mobile iPad app during the campaign than in previous months. MicroStrategy also had an 82 percent share of voice in traditional media for the topic of Mobile BI from August-November 2010 when compared to its competitors. According to Google News, news coverage of MicroStrategy increased 3.5 times during the first three months of working with Schwartz.
Schwartz secured coverage in top business outlets such as Forbes, Bloomberg News, BusinessWeek, Investor's Business Daily, Financial Times, Fox News and hundreds of other blogs, tech publications and sites such as PC Magazine, ZDNet and ComputerWorld.
A story on Forbes.com generated over 69,000 mentions in social media after it ran. In September, Apple announced that the MicroStrategy Mobile App was named on Apple's "What's Hot" List on the iTunes App.
Secrets of Success: Read on as McGarry and Agarwal explain why this campaign for MicroStrategy resulted in such great success.
Pitch reporters persistently: "When we pitched reporters early on, they weren't too interested, but we continued to follow-up and stay in touch with them," explains Agarwal. "But, each time we contacted them, we provided updated material and proof points to show them this was a trend. In essence, we were keying them into a trend that hadn't been publicized yet. So, don't give up when pitching reporters, keep at them and continue to advance the story to show them it's newsworthy. We continually updated the story, added to the numbers and provided new data."
Adds McGarry: "Good PR is the collaboration between a PR person and a reporter, providing them with the sources and information they need and listening to them to find that strong and compelling angle," she says. "Stay in touch with them. Sometimes, it takes time to convince reporters to write about or talk to a client. We needed to continue to supply them with compelling proof points."
"For example, MicroStrategy started with a small number of iPad deployments, but continued to add to the number," she continues. "We used that as an opportunity to go back to our media contacts and update them on the new numbers. This definitely helped convince some of the reporters who were skeptical initially to talk to them."
Use traditional media efforts to fuel social media coverage. "Sometimes, PR tends to isolate social media from tradition media," says McGarry. "But, you can create a great synergy between the two. Use traditional media as a springboard for your social media efforts. We reached out to bloggers, pointing to our success in the print media, which created blog posts and additional publicity via social media."
Though a social media strategy wasn't part of Schwartz's publicity efforts during the campaign, the proliferation of their high-quality media placements proved to have a large reach. Each time Schwartz landed a key placement, such as coverage in ZDNet, IDG News, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes or Financial Times, the story took on another life via social media.
Before pitching, listen to what a reporter needs: "Good PR is more about listening to reporters than talking to them," says McGarry. "If you listen, you'll find out what the reporter needs for a story and you can look for the right material to help them build out the story."
Winner's Profile: A full service strategic communications agency with offices in Boston, London, San Francisco and Stockholm, Schwartz Communications delivers PR, social media and digital content marketing as well as public affairs services to innovative companies.