CASE HISTORY AND SAMPLE CLIPS
Growing a Retail Site for Small Businesses: We helped CDW
CDW is a huge direct solutions provider (reseller) of computing equipment. The company started out as a catalog house, gradually adding outbound sales and then an Internet site now that facilitates more than 80 percent of the company’s sales. The primary customer is a small to medium-sized business where the owner or IT decision-maker is reasonable savvy and is looking for some advice, competitive products from which to make his selection and great prices. CDW emphasizes customer service; a customer’s account rep is with them for life.
While the company is big and successful, there is no product to promote. PR must focus on intrinsic company values.
• Achieve a positioning for CDW as the first and only Direct Solutions Provider (company objective); we recommended against this positioning statement, as did the company’s advertising agency; it became the weakest part of the campaign
• Pave the way for a new management structure
• Expand CDW’s shareholder base (mostly employee, or retail).
• Position CDW as “a baby Dell,” leveraging the success of the most successful company in the category; use this and the company’s success story in terms of revenue and employee growth to push into the national business publications
• Use the company’s management team, rather than the CEO, as spokespeople, until a new CEO was found
• Promote all the service benefits the company provides to the IT manager, the over worked, long suffering customer that buys all his computing needs at CDW
• Exploit the great working environment at the company and the many benefits enjoyed by employees
• Draw attention to the extensive pro bono work done by CDW, including released time for employees to give back to the community
• As services are added, promote CDW’s shift to a services company, providing cradle to grave support for the SMB’s needs
Media Focus: All media pitches were focused on publications targeting the IT manager and small business owner. We watched ed cals and pitches columnists. Our greatest luck was in selling customer service stories.
Business Publication Pitches: With a publicity-shy Chairman and CEO, we were limited in what we could do with the national business publications. We zeroed in on Forbes and BusinessWeek, where we had great contacts. After BusinessWeek was cancelled by the CEO, we decided to use the CFO and president for most of the briefings and offered analysts for comment on the company. It worked. We got a major company profile. Once the new CEO was named, we also secured a nice piece in The Wall Street Journal.
Speaking Platforms: We identified appropriate shows and conferences for each of the members of the management team and also promoted all of them for media interviews and articles as specialists in their position.
Employee Benefits: CDW believed that, if you treated the employee right, the employee would treat customers right. Benefits were terrific. The company gave everyone in the company a chance to buy stock, offered extensive training for all levels, promoted from within, provided free Krispy Kreme breakfasts, built a big fitness center including a full size gym on campus as well as a nursery and pre-school for employees’ kids and even helped employees find home mortgages and adoption agencies. All of these benefits were promoted in tasteful ways.
Pro Bono Activities: CDW gave employees released time to work in community non-profit organizations and activities like Walks for Breast Cancer and United Way were sponsored by the HR departments. TBC found ways to use these activities to promote the company as well.
Company Rankings: TBC compiled a list of computer industry rankings carried in the media and laid out a strategy to be in all of them.
• CDW was named to Fortune magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” list, three years in a row
• Forbes magazine ran a full-page corporate profile, calling CDW “A Baby Dell,” our key message
• CDW was profiled on the cover of CRN magazine, the key trade in their industry at the time
• We arranged for CDW to be named in Fortune magazine’s “100 Fastest-Growing Companies,” Fortune 500 list and InformationWeek “Innovation 100”
• Our promotion for CDW’s Ad Campaign “Fred,” resulted in major stories in The Chicago Sun-Times, DMNews, Marketing Computers and generated thousands of positive responses from their customers
• All of the ranking successes and business publications were firsts for the company and heightened customer and investor interest. Inquiries from the outside were way up
• Dell began to notice the company was around, modeling promotions after CDW ideas
• Compaq signed a major partnership for service. The company signed up dozens of service provider partners
• A brand awareness study by an outside firm showed continuous improvement in CDW’s image