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Launching GoInStore – a unique augmented reality retail shopping experience
TechComms launched UK tech startup, GoInStore into the UK market by implementing a strategic communications plan which included analyst introductions and media exposure to generate leads, increase client confidence in the business, and create investor interest. TechComms achieved this with limited company news and a restricted budget.
TechComms’ objective was to maximise GoInStore’s brand awareness and its’ strong customer engagement ethos – achieved by implementing a media mix strategy, with a targeted approach focused on client news, partnership stories and securing commentary to position the founders as thought leaders in the retail tech, augmented reality and virtual reality technology spaces.
Results included an increase in sales enquires and national press coverage within three months, regular industry trade and vertical print mentions, broadcast and online press coverage.
TechComms started working with GoInStore in July 2015. GoInStore is a startup technology company that provides a new way to engage with customers, it had limited resources and budget so, TechComms took a strategic approach to help the company define their PR messaging and bring to the forefront the business challenges that GoInstore’s technology resolves. We looked at how it achieves this by using non-technical and plain English; why it’s important to deploy the technology and the real value it brings to both businesses and their end users. Once this was outlined, it soon became very clear that GoInStore’s technology was an exceptional solution for the online retail customer, with strong, differentiated PR potential.
One of the initial implementations was creating a descriptor for GoInStore (“UK-based creator of a pioneering first-person shopping experience for online customers”), which leveraged the “first-person” gaming terminology that many people were already familiar with.
GoInStore was founded in 2014 by retail technology veterans, but it immediately disrupted the way in which omni-channel businesses engage with their customers. Utilising the latest in “smart glasses” wearable technology and smartphones, the GoInStore service harnesses a proprietary technology platform – including server infrastructure and a unique artificial intelligence-driven Assignation Engine – to revolutionise the way consumers shop online.
Our PR Strategy
Our PR media relations strategy and plan involved working with a variety of media, including national, trade, business and consumer, helping us to regularly achieve coverage across a range of media formats: print, online and broadcast. We decided to use this approach to leverage a wider media reach to maximize GoInStore’s coverage potential. We also targeted virtual reality and augmented reality publications to drive thought leadership commentary and bylined articles resulting in key coverage across a wide range of publications, including ITProPortal and Information Age.
We targeted GoInStore’s core target retail trade media to introduce them to the GoInStore co-founders. This has resulted in 20 interviews to date with national, retail and vertical press including Malcolm Moore from the FT, Miya Knights from Plant Retail, Chloe Rigby from Internet Retailing, Lyndsey Dennis from Retail Focus and Gordon Lyster from Motor Trade News. In addition, we also secured, interviews in mainstream media including BBC Click, Forbes, The Telegraph and CNBC and much more.
Some of our largest coverage achievements include an article published in an FT Special Report: The Connected Business, where we pitched and secured interest with a GoInStore customer – Dawson Music, The Telegraph, where we pitched GoInStore as a pioneer in using wearable technology to change the shopping experience, CNBC, where we secured a video interview of the co-founder talking about the future of retail and Forbes, where we secured an interview and coverage with a reporter covering entrepreneurship in London.
Customer Engagement Case Studies
Although GoInStore had very limited news due to the premature stage of the business initially, we created campaigns around key client stories, defined angles to pitch the story to different media types and used industry events as a platform to engage with media and maintain momentum. This allowed us to raise interest and engagement with reporters and editors across retail, technology and vertical trade publications. Some recent and diverse coverage wins include the recently achieved coverage in Vapouround Magazine, a trade publication for the vaping industry, which covered Vape and Volts, a GoInStore customer by conducting a joint interview with Michael Carmel, CEO of Vape and Volts and Andre Hordagoda, Co-Founder ofGoInStore and coverage in a marketing publication, Mobile Marketing which covered the Marriott partnership news, as GoInStore recently partnered with them to provide virtual meeting tours.
Over the past 12 months, GoInStore has attended a range of industry events in order to raise brand awareness, and share its knowledge and expertise with retail customers, including Millennial 20:20, NRF Retail and MWC. We looked for opportunities to join the conversation by pitching the founders for commentary on hot topics, around features at shows and engaging with influencers attending these shows, such as technology analysts at global mobile events, including MWC 2016. As a result of our work, we secured eight meetings with well-known companies including eMarketer, IDC and Strategy Analytics. Bill Fisher from eMarketer also included comment from the founder in the UK Retail eCommerce report, which was accessible by eMarketer subscribers, including retailers, their core target market.
In addition, we pitched the GoInStore story as a new hot topic to broadcast media, helping to widen our target circle and included media contacts that had recently reviewed and written about new technology and products, as well as entrepreneurial and startup media too. As a result, we secured a podcast interview with Max Pepe from Rebelhead Entrepreneurs, Linda Lewis from Share Radio, and a written piece in Hot Topics, a site pitched at startups and fast growth digital businesses, plus a recent piece in startups.com.
Social Media Support
In addition to the media relations work, we have from day one co-ordinated GoInStore’s social media campaigns to run alongside our PR initiatives, to achieve maximum coverage and raise awareness with potential customers and users – the general public themselves. This has involved posting regular updates, media coverage shares, company news and announcements on GoInStore activity on its LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.
GoInStore Co-Founder Testimonial
Andre Hordagoda, Co-Founder, GoInStore comments:
“As a result of the media coverage achieved by TechComms, we have gained sales leads from not only the UK market, but from the global market. We have received inquiries from a very well recognised American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets from the US, a high profile property company located in South Africa and an education establishment from as far as Australia. We are extremely pleased with TechComms creative and tenacious approach to media relations, which has helped increase our company brand presence within the commercial retail sector, position us as thought leaders within the retail technology, ecommerce, VR and AR spaces and has also helped us increase client confidence in the business and technology, to establish partnerships with well known brands including the Marriott Hotel, where we are now deploying GoInStore to offer visitors to its website the ability to access virtual tours of meeting and events facilities Europe-wide at the European Convention Network’s 14 gold standard hotels.”
Communicating GoInStore’s Customer Engagement Ethos – Key Highlights
- TechComms helped significantly increase the number of real sales inquiries from potential international clients and investors as a result of the PR programme.
- Achieved 38 pieces of coverage in 2015, resulting in 7,095,568 media impressions
- Achieved 36 pieces of coverage in 2016 to date, including Forbes, CNBC EMEA news programme, The Telegraph, ZDNet, and T3 – resulting in 84,912,518 media impressions – an increase of 1892.13%.
- Secured eight face to face analyst briefings at MWC with leading influential global mobile analysts including Bill Fisher from eMarketer, Chris Jones from Canalys, Francisco Jeronimo from IDC and Cliff Raskind from Strategy Analytics. Resulted in coverage in a Retail eCommerce report written by Bill Fisher from eMarketer.
- Increased media interviews to 12 in 2016 (from six in 2015), an increase of 100% – including two podcasts and one video broadcast interview.
- Secured guest opinion coverage in Internet Retailing, Information Age and Retail Focus helping position the co-founders as thought leaders on topics in their industry including augmented reality and virtual reality.
- Increased presence of GoInStore on Twitter – 25% increase in international followers over a six month period, over 250 retweets of GoInStore tweets and over 100 mentions of GoInStore by key influential followers.
GoInStore introduced a completely new technology solution to the market so the TechComms team needed to invest some time at the start of the account to understand the solution and the benefits it brings to the industry, as well as identify the hot topics around this type of PR programme.
We achieved this by setting up searches across publications and regularly reading what members of the industry, media and analysts were writing about topics such as augmented reality, virtual reality and wearables to ensure GoInStore could voice their opinion in the market.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are still very new hot topics for most media and industry analysts, so there was – and still is – a lot of work to be done to educate the audience and alert them to why they should want to listen to and cover this client.
A key part of our integrated campaign strategy was to target different audiences to support the growth plans for GoInStore. Industry analysts were a key group of influencers that we approached, as we know they have the connections to get a small start-up like GoInStore indirectly onto the radar with the following:
- Media – many reporters reach out to analysts for commentary on topics that will be of interest to their readership. We wanted GoInStore to be included in their conversations via an independent influencer, but unlike gaining coverage with the media, it takes longer to build relations within the analyst community to achieve an independent comment in the media. As you can imagine, analysts’ focus on topics are for the long term. They research, write, forecast and consult on business topics and strategies, technologies and trends that have implications for many years to come. Following our initial success with the analysts, we plan to build on that approach in 2017, by combining media with analyst relations, which will involve asking an analyst to agree on providing comment on GoInStore to the media and directing the media to the analyst to request comments. Analysts are happy to provide comments, as some analyst firms track this as part of their performance achievements for the analysts.
- Potential customers – by briefing analysts ahead of a relevant report, you have a better chance of being featured in relevant analyst research report. This worked for GoInStore; we briefed Bill Fisher ahead of a relevant eMarketer industry report, which we knew would raise awareness of GoInStore, to technology and service offering for retailers, the target audience of this subscription-required report. We successfully managed to get GoInStore featured in the report following the introductory briefing. See below commentary from Andre Hordagoda, co-founder, GoInStore featured in the report:What’s particularly exciting about the VR and AR space at the moment is that it’s tantalizingly close to becoming a mass-market consumer proposition. “We’re not looking at technologies that don’t exist,” said Andre Hordagoda, co-founder of ecommerce and AR firm GoInStore. “We’re looking at existing technologies and coupling them together in a way that aims to help retailers generate more money.”
- Opportunities for acquisitions – as analysts are retained by companies acquiring technologies and looking for guidance on purchasing considerations, we thought this strategy to engage with the analysts worked well for GoInStore as the analysts would want to be aware of the GoInStore offering, since it is one of the only real current user cases for wearables in business.
By building relations with both the media and analysts, and fostering a reputation as a trusted access point for reporters wishing to liaise with analysts that we have briefed and introduced to GoInStore, we are showcasing how well connected we are – and more innovative than other PR agencies in this same marketplace. Having combing and interconnecting our media and analyst relations, we offer our client an integrated all-purpose campaign, while highlighting to them that our media relationships are not short term. Establishing, maintaining and building upon good working relationships with all targets is our aim for the long term too.
Although GoInStore was not a known brand, we didn’t let this intimidate us when approaching influential media with the story. An important and necessary requirement when working for a startup is being prepared to write a vast amount of content on behalf of the founders or co-founders in our case.
We resolved this by combining all existing content with writing exceptionally good pitches and releases, targeting relevant influential media, repurposing all created content – and we do mean all – for a variety of media to keep within budgets and find creative ways to get GoInStore’s voice heard and increase their brand presence.
Startups have limited resource, time and money, so go into working with them with your eyes wide open. You may need to initially overservice to achieve objectives, which we did, but the success and media attention that we have secured has been very satisfying – and we aim to continue on this roll.