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Alaine Portnoy of Omnify Software shares insight on public relations (PR) and her findings.

Interview with Alaine Portnoy, Marketing VP with Omnify Software and her insight on public relations (PR). 
Click link to view video of interview
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjrPAyPllyY
November 2009

Omnify Software, a leading provider of business-ready Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, helps OEMs shorten development cycles, accelerate product innovation and improve bottom-line profitability.  As the only known private PLM software company that is running profitably, Omnify has been experiencing exponential growth in its market sector. In light of this, the timing proved right to enhance Omnify’s momentum by investing in a public relations outreach strategy in order to increase its visibility and position in the industry. Alaine Portnoy, director of Omnify’s marketing department, was tasked to find a new Public Relations firm that could leverage their marketing and business strategies to maximize media and analyst coverage, as well as possess an in-depth understanding of technology and the manufacturing industry as a whole.
 
Omnify’s PLM systems are based on advanced technologies and are consistently evolving to meet the ever growing needs of their customers. Additionally, collaboration efforts with other complementary solutions such as ERP, CAD, Supply Chain, Document Management and CRM are part of Omnify’s strategy to create a seamlessly integrated environment for its customers. This meant that the PR firm they would choose would also need to be well versed and experienced with numerous enterprise- wide, complex systems and solutions. For instance, Omnify’s open integration platform is built on the Microsoft .NET Framework – opening the door to partnerships and integrating with a wide variety of Microsoft based solutions. 
 
Omnify understood that they needed to replace their current PR agency whose level of service had fallen far short of expectations. In an all too typical fashion, the agency had won the account with a presentation by the agency’s senior team. Not long afterward, Omnify’s account was relegated to junior level staff, who just didn’t understand Omnify’s technology or market. Turnover of team members also became a concern. Omnify was tasked with breaking in the new hires, which caused more work for Alaine and impacted both the quality of strategic counsel and the amount of editorial coverage the agency was gaining for Omnify. 
 
 
Omnify evaluated several PR firms before finally making its decision. Omnify took a different approach by hiring a results-based firm as opposed to a retainer-based firm. Their choice was Ripple Effect Communications (REC), an integrated marketing communications firm headquartered in Boston, MA with satellite offices in New York, Denver, Providence, and San Francisco. Omnify chose REC because the firm addresses all the issues clients have when they bring on a PR agency, such as unfulfilled expectations; service quality that starts to dwindle after a six month introductory period; bait and switch from seasoned professionals to junior level staff; a retainer that slowly creeps up in price or one that generates a plethora of administrative reports but not many tangible PR results. Ripple Effect Communications negates these issues through its innovative pricing approach, complete ROI matrix on deliverables and an "a la carte" methodology that guarantees PR services remain as flexible as the client’s needs. It was completely a win-win scenario as Omnify was guaranteed that VP-level only executives would be part of their team. The team is comprised of seasoned executives that understand all areas of technology and systems from the plant floor to enterprise wide ERP systems. One of Ripple Effect Communications’ greatest strengths lies in its ability to provide strategic council and define a company’s market dynamics, the value its solutions bring to its customers. With this understanding Ripple Effect Communications has the expertise to develop and package succinct messages in the context of market trends and compelling stories. Through its seasoned executive team, this unique PR firm’s forte is in developing clear and differentiated value propositions for clients such as it is doing for Omnify, which is critical to the success of any high growth company. Ripple Effect also brings multi-lingual capabilities as well as strong connections and an understanding of culture through its global Eurobond PR network of over 60 PR agencies worldwide serving more than 650 clients. Important to note is that the firm provides a very innovative infrastructure – providing multi-tiered PR services that are versatile, scaleable, and cost effective.
 
From an organizational standpoint, Ripple Effect Communications is unique in that it offers:
 
1. All VP-Level executives– providing out of box thinking and in-depth knowledge
2.  "A La Carte" Services that can be swapped out for other services as needs arise
3. Public Relations, Investor Relations, and Global Communication Services (part of Eurobond PR Worldwide)
4. ROI Matrix on clearly defined deliverables 
5. Ability to leverage partnerships that include channels to market, technology providers, integrators
 
As soon as Alaine brought Ripple Effect Communications onboard, she noticed significant changes from what she had been experiencing with her previous firm. Her Ripple Effect PR team took on a lot of the PR activity she previously had had to handle and was well-versed in the manufacturing industry with excellent editorial and analyst connections. The Ripple Effect team also quickly caught on to the nuances of new technologies.
 
With a ramp up time a fraction of the previous firm’s, Ripple Effect doubled the amount of editorial articles in which Omnify participated, in the first 5 months of activity than. Omnify received more visibility and results in 7 months than all of the previous year combined. 
 
Another interesting statistic noted at the 7 month milestone at the end of the first calendar year, is that Omnify had received coverage in 14 different magazines as compared to the 5 magazines it received coverage in during the entire previous year. Fifty eight percent of that coverage concentrated in one publication. 
 
The team also executed a perception study with Omnify’s target audience to assess what it would take from a PR perspective to move Omnify to the next echelon in terms of visibility and branding. After the perception study, Ripple Effect took on the challenge of getting into those magazines that would directly hit Omnify’s target audience in addition to identifying and pursuing an active awards and speaker opportunity program. Ripple Effect achieved its objectives on all fronts. Ripple Effect was successful in getting Omnify’s news and case studies published in17 targeted magazines that had either no previous mention of Omnify or none for at least the previous two years. In addition, the Ripple Effect team secured Omnify speaking opportunities such as MD&DI West and East shows and awards honors such as the MBT award, Process Innovation Award, Start-IT Awards as well as a finalist selection by the MA High Tech Leadership Council for its Leadership Award..

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