Best practice from Six Degrees PR
“Within two minutes of the first news release going live, we were inundated with orders for the product!” Tom Hinton, VP Sales, mobile and embedded, Trolltech
Increasingly, mobile phone manufacturers are using Linux, the open source operating system (OS), instead of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile or the Symbian OS. Gartner Group predicts that nearly a third of smartphones (PDA and multimedia phones) will run on Linux by 2009. However, its present market share is still small compared to its competitors.
Norwegian open-source software company, Trolltech’s Qtopia application platform is the de-facto industry standard for makers of Linux-based devices, with clients including Motorola, ZTE and Sony. Trolltech cemented its industry reputation as a Mobile Linux pioneer when it launched Qtopia Greenphone, the first open Linux-based mobile for software developers, in August 2006.
The creation of Greenphone was to help make Linux a more attractive proposition for phone companies and grow Trolltech’s addressable market. Trolltech knew that boosting the number of mobile Linux applications was going to be fundamental and Greenphone would encourage this by giving developers a working mobile phone to create, test and demonstrate their software on.
The challenge and planning
When Six Degrees started working with Trolltech, a media audit found that technology journalists generally had a positive attitude towards Mobile Linux as an open source competitor to proprietary systems (Symbian, Windows).
Yet, there was some doubt about its prospects given the fragmented nature of the market, limited standardisation and the lack of reference devices. By contrast, the business and wireless media had very little awareness of the disruptive potential of Mobile Linux, requiring a huge education effort.
The launch of Greenphone had to address these issues, as well as Trolltech’s comparatively low media profile in the UK at the time.
Six Degrees adopted a two-step strategy to lift what was essentially a product announcement to the level of a market commentary on the growth of Linux, and its impact on the balance of powers in mobile communications.
1. Generating industry analyst support
To generate media buy-in, the team chose to use industry analysts as commentators. By pre-briefing and winning the support of leading mobile phone analysts, a base of independent experts was created and offered to the media for comment at the time of the launch.
2. Creating a value-added package for the media
An ‘information package’, in addition to the Greenphone news release, was created to include:
- Brief, simple background information and statistics about the disruptive nature of Mobile Linux
- Information about Trolltech’s pioneering role in Mobile Linux, underscoring the weight of the news
- Contact details for pre-briefed industry analysts who had agreed to act as media references
- Links to hi-resolution photography, taking advantage of the stylish design of Greenphone.
Following the initial launch, the campaign then focused on product reviews and feature coverage of Mobile Linux.
The launch resulted in eight pre-briefings with industry analysts (with 6 analyst houses agreeing to be media references), over 30 articles in top target technology and business media, and more importantly, generated 300 sales requests – the first within two minutes of the Greenphone announcement being issued! The team also received 18 requests for Greenphone reviews and ZDnet offered to feature a senior Trolltech executive’s blog on its homepage.
It also catapulted Trolltech – long known to insiders as ‘Scandinavia’s best kept IT secret’ – to the ranks of a major player and widely recognised Mobile Linux expert whose spokespeople are regularly approached to comment in the media. In addition, Trolltech’s share price at Oslo Stock Exchange peaked at 20NOK in the days following the launch.
The Greenphone campaign employed the best of business to business PR practice and applied it to what would otherwise have been a fairly typical trade media relations project.
In lifting the product announcement onto market commentary territory, the Six Degrees team was able to interest business-focused media like International Herald Tribune and Computer Business Review in a very technical story.
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