2013 Platinum PR Awards: Financial/Investor Relations

Winner: Qorvis Communications - Turning the Channel to Al Jazeera America

It was a huge communications challenge: Al Jazeera Media Networks was going to acquire Current TV and use Current's cable distribution to start a new channel: Al Jazeera America. Although Al Jazeera is one of the most recognized brands in the world, and even though another Al Jazeera brand—Al Jazeera English—was already available in millions of American homes, the transaction and new channel were virtually guaranteed to create viscerally negative reactions because of the extreme misperceptions some have of Al Jazeera.

This had to be prevented, not just because of the effect it would have on advertisers and cable television distributors, but because it could trigger congressional and regulatory investigations, and harm financial relations. Qorvis' media strategy was both simple and elegant. Because political and foreign affairs reporters and columnists were likely to focus on the aspects of Al Jazeera that would be most troubling to many Americans, it was important to emphasize the announcement of the acquisition of Current TV as a business decision. All of the messaging was about the business and financial aspects of the deal. Instead of putting the release on the wires, Qorvis decided to send all media materials to a proprietary list of business and financial journalists, particularly those who cover the business of the media. Interviews in the first few weeks after the transaction were selected carefully in order to target business and financial outlets.

The results couldn’t have been better as Qorvis' strategy and execution worked exactly as planned: the announcement was treated as business and financial story. And the social media response was so positive that it forced a major cable company to backtrack, more or less, on its announcement that it would not carry Al Jazeera America. The success in traditional and social media far outweighed the client's expectations and set up Al Jazeera America for an exciting and robust future.

Honorable Mentions:

  • LaVoie Group - Radius Health Positioning A Biotech to Raise Capital in a Down Market
  • Ogilvy Public Relations - Shutterstock Soars as First NYC-based Technology IPO in Years
  • Strategic Public Relations Group - Tsui Wah - Continuing the Rise of a Hong Kong Legend
  • Strategic Public Relations Group - DYNAM - Setting Sights on the World Stage
  • Tanis Communications – Generating Excitement for a New Optical Leader

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About Chris Seymour

Steve Goldstein is editorial director for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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