Magazine article Marketing

Web Site Novelties Can Bring PR Opportunities

Magazine article Marketing

Web Site Novelties Can Bring PR Opportunities

Article excerpt

Creative web site promotions are reaping rewards for innovators

The market-leading US online car-buying site Autobytel had a budget of [pounds]4m for the launch in April of its UK site. Half of this sum was allocated to offline promotions in the national press, plus trade, consumer and specialist magazines and by the end of the second week 20,000 visitors had notched up 2.6 million hits.

Deciding whether to concentrate resources online or offline can be difficult. Should companies target a receptive online audience through devices such as banner ads, or should attention be focused on raising awareness away from the PC environment?

"The real world is potentially the more powerful lever for increasing site visibility," argues Wai Kwok, marketing executive at multimedia design agency pres.co. "But site promotion should ideally graze across all streams of existing media channels, both off and online."

For many brand owners offline activity has simply involved including the company's web site address in press ads and on the product itself hardly a compelling call to action. But creative strategies to raise awareness of a web site are used more now to generate PR opportunities.

Castrol sent the press a CD-ROM-resembling a business card-to publicise the launch of its 'Complete Motoring' site. Neil Wilkins, product marketing manager says: "The CD-ROM, which links to the Castrol Complete Motoring site, not only grabbed attention but also positioned Castrol as innovative."

Channel 5 also used a business ROM-Card to promote its Melinda Messenger weekend via its web site, inviting journalists to take a sneak preview in a Melinda Messenger section, complete with risque pictures.

Tony Blin-Stoyle, previously commercial director at FT electronic publishing, regards PR as critical. He is now managing director of the web site UpMyStreet which provides information on local areas for those buying new houses. "We have a section on the UpMyStreet site called 'Did You Know?'. When Mandelson resigned, we described how, for the price of his London house, you could buy 17 houses in Hartlepool-that made the evening news."

Word of mouth is especially useful on the internet. "We want to make UpMyStreet's 'Did You Know?' a dinner party conversation topic. Strong content is essential. It must be entertaining, informative and regularly updated," adds Blin-Stoyle.

Abbey Road Interactive has developed many enhanced CDs (E-CDs) as tools for promoting both back-catalogue albums as well as artists' dedicated web sites.

Among several remastered Marillion CDs released in March were two E-CDs featuring discography, photos and a hidden track. To access the hidden track, fans were invited to click on a link to a hidden Marillion web site and fill in a form online to obtain a password. Also. clicking 'More Info' in the discography section linked fans directly to an e-commerce-enabled site.

"It was primarily a database creation tool. Over 3000 people have registered since launch," says account manager Christina Schoenleber. Online sales for the two E-CDs are almost triple those of the other remasters. Web site traffic is up 25% and other titles have benefited too.

Internet design agency Global Beach was even more innovative for client Hewlett-Packard. The MOPy fish screensaver can be downloaded free via the company's web site and 1. …

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