The Right Story at the Right Time

A joint venture between Data Broadcasting Corporation and CBS Broadcasting Inc., Marketwatch.com is a top financial news site for breaking news, analysis and market data targeted at savvy investors.

When Graham was hired to launch CBS MarketWatch, the site was not the financial news juggernaut it eventually would become. Awareness was low and the site was often left out of industry roundups that typically included competitors. Also, securing coverage for a publication in other publications presented a serious obstacle. Our main PR objective was to build awareness, increase site traffic and position MarketWatch reporters and analysts as among the elite financial journalists in the country.

Star journalists were offered as expert sources available for comment on investing trends, personal investing strategies and the market in general. The big break came when Graham identified and capitalized on MarketWatch reporters breaking the news about the merger between the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Pacific Stock Exchange. Graham wrote and distributed a news release about the merger, offering/positioning CBS MarketWatch not only as the first breaking news source, but as an expert opinion on the development.

Breaking the story on the Pacific Exchange/Chicago Board Options Exchange merger talks resulted in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Associated Press running subsequent stories, citing CBS MarketWatch as the sole and original news source. This put CBS MarketWatch in a industry leadership position, which Graham leveraged to secure additional interviews with Fortune, Smart Money and GQ Magazine, among many others, discussing the market and trends in online investing. From there out, CBS MarketWatch was considered a breaking news source and one “watched” closely by influential financial and business media.

Breakthrough in an Established Category

Hungary-based Nav N Go is a GPS navigation software provider. Founded in 2004, Nav N Go provides reliable navigation solutions in more than 70 countries and in 39 different languages.

In the crowded navigation industry, where the majority of business is dominated by a few players, Nav N Go approached Graham to create a buzz in the U.S. market at CES, i.e., the Consumer Electronics Show. Virtually unknown in the U.S. prior to this launch, this was Nav N Go’s first PR attempt in North America. The challenge was to distinguish Nav N Go’s offerings from products already available here and establish it as a category pioneer.

“Graham managed to understand the business and market dynamics extremely fast, set a clear strategy and hit the bulls eye on how to position Nav N Go as the leader in 3D navigation software in North America. They worked hard, had fun and delivered.”

Leon van de Pas, CEO, Nav N Go Ltd.

Graham first conducted a detailed market analysis tapping industry analysts, bloggers and media experts and then defined Nav N Go’s unique positioning as the first ‘true’ 3D navigation software provider in North America. When critics questioned the need for a 3D vs. 2D solution, Graham researched and collected proof points that confirmed marketplace shifts and trends toward products that have photo-realism.

In total, Graham initiated 20 media and blogger interviews in addition to analyst briefings with the top research firms—IDC, ABI Research, Bear Stearns, iSuppli and IMS Research. This outreach resulted in a total of 98 pieces (in one month) of coverage, including The Wall Street Journal, CNET Podcast, BNET TV, and San Jose Mercury News.

Hijack an issue. Educate the market.

Taiwan’s leading Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) had a new, promising technology that improved the safety of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries used in consumer electronics such as PDAs, laptops and phones: a potentially welcome development amidst public safety concerns about reliability.

“Astonishing results that far exceeded our imagination. Due to Graham’s hard work, our visits with American firms turned out very well and they had heard about STOBA. ITRI’s senior research scientist and deputy general director is very amazed at the power of the Internet in the U.S.”

Ching-Hwa Meng, ITRI’s Project Marketing Director

Graham was tasked by its client ITRI with a six-week initiative to launch its award-winning technology, STOBA (self-terminated oligomers with hyper-branched architecture), in the U.S. market. The ITRI research team had scheduled a series of meetings with leading American consumer electronics companies to secure initial interest and credibility for the STOBA technology, which was also to receive an R&D 100 Award in Miami during their visit, and our program needed to generate press in advance of their trip.

Graham opted for an issue hijacking approach. We researched and discussed the public safety and business issues (and business economics, i.e., the cost of recalls) with Li-ion batteries and offered STOBA as a viable solution via two social media news releases. We targeted national technology writers of news wires, newspapers, online consumer technology media and trade magazines. Graham garnered media interviews for the spokespersons with influential industry publications such as Reuters, Popular Science, CNET and the San Jose Mercury News.

The STOBA technology news reached a circulation of at least 131,496,189. A video issued with the release received 782 views in one month on YouTube. The ITRI team confirmed that prior to their meetings, key decision makers in the target companies (U.S. consumer electronic manufacturers) had read news reports about the award-winning technology due to Graham’s efforts. The objective of creating positive pre-meeting buzz was successfully achieved.

Create a category. Start a trend.

El Capitan Canyon is an upscale camping experience in Santa Barbara, California.

With summer approaching quickly, El Capitan Canyon’s reservations books were nearly empty. At a time when many domestic travel destinations were vying hard for media attention, Graham was given a mere four weeks to launch the property and drive traffic into the empty campground.

Graham & Associates positioned El Capitan Canyon as a leader in a new category of travel – luxury camping. Graham’s campaign of “Contemporary Camping; California Style” hit home with the attitudes of vacationers across the U.S. and differentiated the upscale campground out of the gate. Leveraging this breakthrough positioning, Graham quickly adopted and implemented an aggressive media outreach strategy.

“The agency defined our niche well and capitalized on the trend of traveling closer to home and seeking comfort in nature. Within six weeks of our PR launch, we were featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, ‘Good Morning America’, 11 Fox News affiliates, KTLA, and more. Our phones rang off the hook and we were close to capacity if not 100% full.”

Larry Callahan, Managing Partner, El Capitan Canyon

The new “luxury campground” was covered extensively by media across the nation, including The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, Los Angeles Times, Travel + Leisure, San Francisco Examiner, U.S. News & World Report, Fox News and many more. As a result of its unique positioning and the media attention, reservation phones rang off the hook and website traffic jumped. Reservations increased more than 300 percent, and the property was booked for the summer.

Today, El Capitan Canyon remains at the forefront of the category and enjoys top-notch coverage, such as an NBC Today Show segment, a Sunset Magazine cover story, features in Via, American Way, Los Angeles Times, etc.

Awards and Recognition

PRSA Awards: Silver Anvil Award for Excellence, Marketing Consumer Services

Sabre Awards: Bronze, Media Placement

Magellan Awards: Silver, Publicity Campaigns

Magellan Awards: Top 50 Publicity Campaigns

The Power of First and Only

Luma is a new active adult condominium development located north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a favorite destination for Americans.

In an increasingly volatile real estate market, Front Porch, one of the largest developers of senior housing in California, approached Graham to launch Luma on the Bay of Banderas and help build a buyer interest list. Our program needed to differentiate the new community from the rash of condo developments in Mexico; educate our audience about owning Mexican real estate; highlight it as a secure investment; address concerns over healthcare; and introduce Front Porch as an established and trusted developer.

“The need to differentiate the Luma development in the media was critical. Graham created a comprehensive public relations approach which highlighted the unique positioning for Luma. In a matter of months, we were in Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, Yahoo! Real Estate, TheStreet, and more. The press coverage contributed greatly to generating leads and far outpaced our main competitor in Mexico. They have done a wonderful job telling the Luma story across our consumer and trade markets.”

Lee Ratta, Senior Vice President

Through three simple but effective phases, we announced each stage of Luma’s development to build brand momentum. Researching the marketplace tenor and intelligence, we determined a winning news hook that uniquely captured Luma’s differentiators and key trends–Luma was the first active adult, beachfront development in Mexico. Our audience included national consumers, select geographic markets, seniors/Baby Boomers, and the real estate and finance sectors, which we targeted through a mix of traditional and social media relations.

Early on, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report included Luma in a major feature article about buying real estate south of the border. And, it got better: the article was syndicated on Yahoo! Finance, which alone generated 290 sales leads in a few hours. Additionally, Graham secured coverage in The HuffingtonPost, TheStreet, Commercial Property News, Southern California Senior Life Magazine, Boston Globe, Washington Times, Univision.com, Realty Times, Ocean Home Magazine, Arizona Republic, Tucson Citizen and more. In the program’s second and third phases, momentum continued with coverage in the New York Times, SmartMoney, Where to Retire, KNBC-San Diego, Forever Young (Canada) and others. PR generated over a third of the sales leads on less than 5% of the total marketing budget.

Awards and Recognition

Magellan Awards: Best Agency Campaign

Magellan Awards: Platinum, Product/Service Communications Campaigns

Magellan Awards: Top 50 Publicity Campaigns

Spotlight Awards: Gold, Print, Video & Communications Campaign

A Hidden Opportunity: An Untold Story

In an economic downturn, the City of Carmel turned to Graham & Associates to bolster tourism to this quaint and historic city. The primary objective was simple — create renewed interest on a local, regional and national level. The agency faced two challenges: the lack of competitive packages and specials from Carmel; whose hotel properties were generally quite small, and the lack of any real news in this quiet coastal town.

Graham had to get creative. After diligent research, the team identified a compelling and authentic positioning opportunity — the city adored its resident dogs. These 847 four-legged friends were welcome at many city hotels, restaurants and cafes – one even boasted a dog menu – unheard of at the time. Most residents owned dogs; dogs were welcome in the workplace — even City Hall; one hotel hosted a doggie tea; and the city’s famous beach allows dogs to run off leash (one of the few in California). These unique dog-friendly characteristics of Carmel were authentically there, but no one had connected the dots.

“Graham’s award-winning PR campaigns resulted in features in top media outlets including Sunset, USA Today, the BBC, VIA, NBC and many more. The team’s creative thinking and contacts in the travel industry and consumer media were instrumental in the success of our marketing program.”

Sue McCloud, Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Graham developed a playful yet informative campaign featuring pet-friendly travel, highlighting Carmel as a dog-friendly destination while tapping into key domestic travel trends. The campaign drew an immediate and enthusiastic response from local media – KGO-810 AM in San Francisco and KFCO radio in Santa Cruz did segments, and a story in the Contra Costa Times later ran in 31 newspapers – generating much-needed awareness in the local drive market. Then, USA Today featured Carmel on the front cover of the “Life” section with a half-page, four-color photo. Coverage translated directly into an increase in inquiries for pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants and pooch boutiques. But most importantly, Carmel was back on the regional and national radar.

Widespread coverage followed, including BBC, Delta’s SkyWest, and Southwest Spirit magazine. Shortly after, Condé Nast Traveler named Carmel a Top 10 U.S. Destination. Today, Carmel remains a popular dog-friendly travel destination. The campaign’s legacy (which received the Worldwide Creativity Award from IPRA) continues as a strong theme in the city’s media coverage and in its tourist experience. The world had caught on to what Carmel’s four-legged residents have always known — Carmel is truly “Dog (and for people, too) Heaven on Earth.”

Awards and Recognition

Magellan Awards: Silver, Publicity Campaigns

International Public Relations Association: Special Creativity Award (sole recipient worldwide)

Communicator Awards: Award of Distinction, Publicity Campaigns

PRWeek Awards: Social Education & Philanthropy Awards Finalist, Public Sector Campaign of the Year

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