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David vs. Goliath

When members of the Birnbach Communications team started working for a tiny Canadian wireless PDA company, it was competing in a crowded market dominated by Palm.

The challenges

  • Make a big splash for the company's newest product, the first wireless email solution for mobile professionals.
  • The product launch was the company’s most important announcement of the year.
  • Distinguish new product from Palm Pilot.
  • The company is based in Canada and its stock wasn’t traded on any U.S.-based exchanges.

The opportunity

However, wireless leadership was open. Palm was about to launch its Palm VII, but there were already other wireless email products on the market, including Motorola's PageWriter 2000.

The activity

  • Initiate an aggressive media relations program to ensure the new product is perceived as a leading wireless solution.
  • Emphasize the unique characteristics that separate the new product from others in its category

We booked appointments with national media as part of a New York press tour the week prior to the announcement, arranging interviews with The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Daily News and others.

We called major media to drive participation in the teleconference announcement, and followed up after the announcement to drive product coverage. We also sent pairs of the new product to key reporters, including Stephen Wildstrom at Business Week so they could test the product in action. (Most of those devices never got returned to us because the reporters liked them so much.)

The results

Coverage in Business Week, hailing the product as "Close-to-Perfect Pocket E-Mail" and as "the first wireless message device that I'd want to carry around." We also secured coverage in The New York Times, NBC's "Today Show," USA Today, MSNBC.com, New York Daily News and more.

  • The product "is the hottest wireless game in town,” "Close-to-Perfect Pocket E-Mail" by Stephen Wildstrom, Business Week, 5/3/99
  • “I think this is an amazing device. I’ve been using it for a week and couldn’t wait to tell you about it.” Gary Krakow, MSNBC, 3/29/99
  • “Unlike other wireless systems, it does not require a separate E-mail account for messages.” Ian Austen, The New York Times, 1/21/99

Based on market intelligence of the features in the upcoming Palm VII, we developed a sheet that compared the client's product to the Palm VII, and distributed it to the media prior to the Palm VII's official launch. The results: our tiny client was cited very positively in most of Palm VII's coverage.

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