13 October 2008

Who Says You Need a Press Release? MokaFive's iPhone Sentinel Blog Launch

Tired of drafting those pesky press releases? Why not use your blog to break news?

That's what we did with MokaFive last month for the company's iPhone Sentinel prototype. The News: Vinod Khosla-backed desktop virtualization vendor launches plug-in for iPhone users to carry a full desktop on the iPhone.

The Challenge: Drive prototype downloads during VMworld – one of the biggest virtualization industry events of the year. With Microsoft's own virtualization event the week prior and only seven days to prepare, we can generate buzz in the middle of this loud press circus, right?

Right! We skipped the formal press release and hit the blogosphere directly via the MokaFive corporate blog. Why? Rather than reach typical press release outlets, MokaFive wanted to target a very specific audience – cream-of-the-crop tech enthusiasts who would download and test the prototype, then offer helpful feedback on the product.

During VMworld, our news hit The New York Times, CNET, TechRepublic, jkOnTheRun, Life Hacker, Mobile Devices Today, DaniWeb, LinuxStreet and more. Many of the blogs were syndicated, too.

MokaFive's web traffic quadrupled on the day of the announcement. Life Hacker alone referred more than 2,800 people to MokaFive's web site. According to Radian6, there were 85 total blogs talking about MokaFive 15-29 Sept; 35 of these were posted the day of our blog announcement. There were also 50 blogs that mentioned "iPhone Sentinel" 15-29 Sept; 30 of which ran the same day as our blog announcement.

MokaFive saw an increase of 273% in visitors to their downloads page. In addition, the MokaFive Player page went from fewer than 50 visits the week before VMworld to more than 8,000 visits during the week of our blog announcement. In addition, downloads from MokaFive's community site increased by 50%.

Key takeaways:
1) Consider strategies to build up your blog readership so your first blog-only launch is sure to reach your target audience.

2) Messaging and important talking points can easily get lost in the fast-paced start-up environment. While the exercise of writing a press release often helps distill key takeaways you want to communicate, it's not the only tool for grooming spokespeople. Make sure you always carefully prep spokespeople – with or without a press release – or they may look sloppy in interviews.

3) Don't expect your blog to do all the work. Consider ways to market your blog to make it visible within the communities you want to reach. Then, get your PR team to pitch like crazy. For example, our top blog hits (NYT, CNET) came from personal relationships and hardcore pitching.

4) Make sure the "news" is worthy. Although Microsoft, Sun, VMware, Citrix, HP, Dell, Red Hat and a variety of startups were making desktop virtualization product and customer announcements last month, MokaFive is the first to move virtual desktops to mobile phones.

If you're considering using your corporate blog as a platform for breaking news, go for it! If you're a seasoned PR pro with the right relationships in place, what's to lose?

Check out this post at the Page Wonder blog.

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