- About Us
- The Evolution of PR
- Strategic Approach
- Executive Team
- Recommended Reading
- Contact Us
- Case Studies
- Aruba Networks
- Attensity – Merger
- Cavet Technologies
- Cleantech Group
- eEye Digital Security
- Juniper Networks
- Juniper Networks – Global Alignment
- Mu Dynamics
- NETGEAR – Skype
- NETGEAR – Digital Entertainer
- NETGEAR – Storage
- NETGEAR — Building a Consumer Brand
- Sigma Designs – Media Processor
- Sigma Designs – Verizon
- Think London
- Unirac – Thought Leader
- Veolia Environnement
Launch of the Digital Entertainer: a Performance to Remember
Before 2002, NETGEAR was known by early adopters for its routers and switches. Mainstream consumers were largely unaware of the NETGEAR brand or the benefits of wireless networking. Sterling Communications, Inc. has spent five years working to change the perception of NETGEAR with business, consumer and mainstream media outlets. Today, the NETGEAR brand has evolved significantly. The company is now considered a leader in the exploding markets for networking, IP communications and digital entertainment devices for both businesses and consumers. The company’s products are consistently portrayed by the media – especially consumer-focused media – as affordable, innovative and easy-to-use.
“We couldn’t buy the amount of coverage and brand visibility the CES launch gave us.” — Deborah Williams, Chief Marketing Officer, NETGEAR
In 2006, NETGEAR’s Skype WiFi Phone (SPH101) was the hit of Consumer Electronics Show (CES), due in no small part to an aggressive media outreach effort by Sterling Communications. To sustain its momentum in the consumer marketplace, NETGEAR wanted to make an equally large splash at CES 2007. Its featured product would be the Digital Entertainer HD (EVA8000), a media receiver that streams movies, music, photos and Internet content from PCs to home entertainment systems.
While NETGEAR’s Skype phone was the first to launch, the Digital Entertainer HD was being introduced just as two of the technology industry’s giants were ramping up their efforts to win the battle for the consumer’s living room. At Macworld, held the same week as CES, Apple, Inc. was widely expected to announce a highly anticipated device with functionality similar to that of the Digital Entertainer HD. At the same time, Microsoft was increasing its push to promote the popular XBox 360 game console, with its streaming capabilities and XBox Live service, as a digital entertainment device. To compete with the giants, Sterling recommended an aggressive, strategic campaign that would leverage the CES media crush in order to condition the marketplace and set the bar for what a digital entertainment hub should do.
Sterling’s work on the launch campaign began even before the date was decided. The first task was to secure a prime press conference slot for Sunday morning before the start of CES. Since this would be NETGEAR’s first solo press event at CES, Sterling provided personalized media training for the speakers.
As part of its media plan, Sterling created a teaser campaign during CES Unveiled to entice top-tier reporters and analysts to attend the press conference. Sterling worked with NETGEAR’s marketing and product teams to determine the right features to highlight during the launch announcement. Consumers would be far more interested in certain features not normally associated with networking gear, even though the Digital Entertainer HD at its heart was a networking device.
Sterling’s release writing, booth operations, speaking submissions and award applications were just as critical as the media plan. Sterling prepared four press releases to cover the entire range of announcements and organized NDA pre-briefings with top-tier publications, including The Wall Street Journal and New York Times to maximize coverage in pre-show round-ups.
As it had done in previous years, Sterling coordinated efforts with NETGEAR’s international PR and business partners, including BitTorrent, to keep the message focused. The entire effort was crafted to present a company “connecting with innovation” and ready to compete with Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and everyone else marketing a networked digital lifestyle.
Almost 250 reporters and analysts from around the globe packed the room to learn about how far NETGEAR had come in 10 years, and how far it would be taking its products to compete successfully in the “living room wars.” Om Malik, a no-nonsense industry reporter, was impressed enough to write, “Someone at NETGEAR must get a raise for planning the first press conference of Day One of CES, thereby ensuring maximum impact….”
Sterling coordinated several “firsts” for NETGEAR:
- The CES press conference was the largest audience ever assembled for a NETGEAR announcement.
- Executives held a record 47 meetings with reporters and technology industry analysts during the show.
- Company representatives participated in a record six speaking engagements, including a popular roundtable discussion, and five “Innovations Award” presentations.
Out of 3000 exhibitors, NETGEAR was a finalist for CNET’s “Best of CES” and was among the top CES picks of the Chicago Tribune, Laptop magazine, GigaOm, San Jose Mercury News, Forbes and others.
Overall, the launch of the NETGEAR Digital Entertainer HD received more coverage of higher quality than any product the company announced to date. A single Associated Press story, which included a paragraph on the Digital Entertainer HD and one of the exclusive features highlighted by Sterling, was carried in more than 100 online outlets. Cliff Edwards of BusinessWeek included NETGEAR in a group, along with Microsoft, Sony, H-P and Apple, as the “world’s top consumer electronics companies” – an enviable position for a 10-year-old “router and switch” firm. According to NETGEAR, the press coverage from The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Investor’s Business Daily, Barron’s and dozens of other news outlets was “priceless.”
Meanwhile, many subsequent stories regarding Apple TV device announced two days later at Macworld noted the more extensive features of the Digital Entertainer HD. A Needham & Company analyst even commented in NETGEAR’s quarterly earnings conference call, “There’s been a lot of positive press attention paid to the Digital Entertainer HD around the Apple TV launch.”