We’ve all been there, when calling a customer service line with a simple request turns into a 30-minute wait. There are many frustrations people expect when calling a customer service center, foremost among them not being able to find a local number to call. Businesses, of course, want to make it easy for customers to buy their wares and quickly address customers’ complaints. Voxbone, a Belgium-based company with offices in the U.S., knew there was an unfulfilled need that could be solved with the right technology. Voxbone helps telecoms and enterprises extend the reach of voice services internationally by providing geographical and toll-free telephone numbers from more than 50 countries. The company’s services can alleviate the technical problems of calling customer service, for both consumers and brands.
The U.S. is a huge market for the company’s services, and it was time to raise Voxbone’s profile in the States.
Enter Vantage PR. In January 2014 the communications agency was hired to raise the interest and engagement with Voxbone’s target audience.
The strategy was to produce articles on the company as well as its efforts to build thought leadership and get readers of those articles interested enough in Voxbone’s services to visit the company’s website.
THE PR STRATEGY
The communications plan was to distribute different types of news announcements and add thought leadership activities so Voxbone was providing useful information to both the carrier and the enterprise community.
Vantage consistently updated the community on new customer wins, with messaging that highlighted how several major international companies were depending on Voxbone for their communications needs.
The agency also delivered articles by Voxbone on relevant topics, such as how enterprises could begin to securely deploy a new technology, WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications). This strategy helped the agency to position Voxbone executives as experts on the industry, rather than solely talking about their own product.
When reaching out to the media and analysts, the campaign focused on Voxbone’s three differentiators: global coverage, flat rate and high quality of service.
These are all critical factors to the success of a contact center, so Vantage wanted to ensure that Voxbone would be associated with these qualities when the company started to announce product news.
The agency maintained this pace for nearly four months, which was enough time to get the U.S. audience familiar with Voxbone but a short enough stretch to ensure that the company’s news would become stale to its target audiences.
The next step was to distribute news regarding Voxbone’s new product offering.
“We needed a partner that could balance a long-term marketing strategy with jolts of big news throughout the year,” said Junko Banshoya, marketing communication manager at Voxbone. “Vantage matched thought leadership tactics and the promotion of consistent company updates with its media relationships in order to reach Voxbone’s U.S. customers with strong company positioning.”
To jump-start the PR program, Vantage distributed customer announcements that Voxbone had lined up internally so that the U.S. media would begin to associate Voxbone’s name as a provider to some of the world’s best communications companies, including Tier 1 providers such as Deutsche Telekom’s Developer Garden and Telefonica.
Vantage also worked with Voxbone on thought leadership activities. These efforts included trade show attendance, speaking engagements and placing contributed articles, especially for the enterprise-contact-center audience.
After a couple months, the agency switched gears and focused on the launch of Voxbone’s WebRTC service.
WebRTC is a hot topic in the industry, and many reporters and analysts felt like it had not realized its promises in the industry yet, most notably for the contact center.
Vantage was able to leverage the existing discussion by reaching out to the reporters and analysts that had already covered WebRTC.
Beyond hypertargeting the outreach, there were several reasons our pitch stood out.
Vantage made sure to highlight an important fact: Voxbone’s WebRTC could be instantly activated, whereas it had previously taken months to get up and running.
The agency backed that up by offering a briefing on a WebRTC conference call provided by Voxbone. This allowed us to demonstrate that Voxbone’s offering was ready for prime time, sealing the deal for many reporters.
Voxbone’s website insights, from January 2014 through June 2014, help tell the story.
During that period, Voxbone saw a 54 percent increase in new organic users on its website. It also garnered a 49 percent increase in organic users overall, compared with the prior six-month period.
The PR strategy of building Voxbone’s reputation through customer news and supplementing that with thought leadership activities was an effective way to meet the agency’s short term goal: drive traffic to the website.
Vantage also found that the amount of new organic user traffic grew 79 percent in April and May, compared with February and March.
In April, two of Voxbone’s bylined articles ran in Call Center Times and TMCnet’s Lync Migration Resource Center. In May, Voxbone executives spoke at two tradeshows, and generated a good deal of coverage from the WebRTC announcement.
After garnering 17 demo briefings with the industry’s top editors and analysts, Vantage saw favorable coverage pour in from some of the leading telecom and enterprise publications. These publications included FierceEnterprise-Communications, Light Reading, No Jitter, RCR Wireless, TechTarget and UC Strategies.
When these articles went live, Vantage made sure to promote the news via Twitter, tagging the publication and reporter when possible.
This prompted a positive conversation between a top-tier senior editor, Sarah Reedy, of Light Reading, and the well-respected industry analyst, Dean Bubley.
All told, one month after the launch Voxbone’s news was the subject of 89 tweets, 29 retweets and 11 favorites. Vantage was also able to leverage LinkedIn to spread the positive feedback about the technology.
“It is rare for demos to go smoothly the first time, but Voxbone’s did. It was literally just click this link and you’re on the call,” Reedy said. “That kind of ease of use will be important to make WebRTC viable. [I’m] excited to see more companies taking advantage of it.”
Vantage was able to combine long-term PR campaign strategies — along with its media relations and social media chops — to bolster Voxbone’s audience in a way that drove customer interest and engagement: a PR home run.
Sidebar: 3 PR Tactics for Building a Company’s Credibility for the Long Haul
1. Build a solid base of news that establishes credibility. Customer announcements aren’t always as exciting as your client wants them to be. But they do serve a huge purpose in your PR campaign. By being able to point to successes consistently, when you do have big news you’ve got proof that backs up your client.
2. Go big when you have big news. Not all news announcements are created equal. When you have something big, maximize it — these opportunities don’t present themselves very often.
3. Leverage thought leadership. Activities such as contributed articles or speaking at a big tradeshow your client’s customers attend can go a very long way for a long-term strategy. Having your client comment on relevant topics shows that they are invested in the industry, understand it well and have a viewpoint worth sharing. —L.H.
(This article was written by Lydia Howard, account director at Vantage PR.)
Lydia Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the November 17, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.