Winner: Hellerman Baretz Communications and Cornerstone Research
Campaign: Creating a PR Cornerstone: Leveraging a Survey and Academia to Own a Market
It's a widely held belief that corporate America's archenemy is none other than plaintiffs' lawyers, as the latter group is often accused of filing alleged "blackmail suits"
(also known as securities class-action cases) the moment a public company's stock price falls significantly. This action is based on the claim that a fall in stock value can be
directly attributed to corporate malfeasance. While this can be true (Enron, anyone?), decreased stock prices are far more often the result of a complex combination of
economic factors that are not tied to the actions of a company or its executives.
To replace the widespread fallacy with a facts-based reality, Cornerstone Research, a provider of economic analysis surrounding class-action cases, initiated
communications outreach that they hoped would find these plaintiffs guilty of bogus litigation.
With the help of Hellerman Baretz Communications, Cornerstone execs identified three objectives that the campaign would address:
Establish Cornerstone as the preeminent leader of securities class-action analysis;
Align Cornerstone and Stanford Law School as the go-to sources for media covering securities class-action issues; and,
Generate buzz through media coverage.
The partnership with Stanford Law School, and specifically with world-renowned law professor and former SEC commissioner Joseph Grundfest, was the proverbial cornerstone
of the campaign, as the combined intellect from professionals within both organizations helped generate reports detailing securities class-action case filings and settlements.
With this high-level research and analysis in its arsenal, the team chose to create a press release that targeted Cornerstone's key audiences: lawyers, public company executives
and business media.
Leveraging Professor Grundfest's authority, the team developed a press release that would be both insightful and accessible to each target audience. It would present complex
economic information in an easy-to-digest way, while at the same time underscore the key elements of the issue at hand.
Reaching A Verdict
The communications strategy ultimately was driven by the need to reach thought leaders, influencers and decision makers in the securities class-action field by targeting the
highest-level business publications for coverage of the reports. Thanks to the final press release's compelling design, accessible messaging and authoritative tone, the campaign
was a resounding success. An overwhelming 95% of Cornerstone's 2008 media mentions were related to the report, thus making it a branding tool that more than earned its positive