Xyratex (Nasdaq: XRTX) is a $1.2 billion, publicly held data storage technology company with headquarters near London and major U.S. operations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Orlando. Since its founding in the 1980s, it has been a leading supplier of capital equipment to the hard disk drive manufacturing industry; more than half of the disk drives in use worldwide are processed, inspected and tested using Xyratex equipment. In addition, the company is the industry-leading provider of enterprise data storage solutions for the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) community. Its systems deliver the ultimate in data storage performance, reliability, scalability, flexibility and density.
The company has historically gone to market through its OEM partners, who architect and integrate Xyratex’ products into their solutions. This model has worked splendidly, but change came to the company in the summer of 2012 with the launch of the ClusterStor 6000 – a revolutionary new data storage technology for the high performance computing and Big Data industries. The company decided to take the ClusterStor product family to the market with its partners; now, for the first time, the company is marketing, selling and supporting products with its partners using its own name and brands.
The decision meant the company needed to execute a major shift, especially in its marketing department. It needed to:
- Promote and build equity in its name and the ClusterStor brand, and answer the “Who is Xyratex?” question in a compelling way, so that it could re-condition the market and compete for deals against stiff competition
- Establish its executives and experts as thought leaders in their respective areas
- Generate a wide variety of content and disseminate those assets broadly to validate the products in the market and enable its sales force
- Develop/refine corporate and product positioning and key messages, so that the product could be sold and messages would resonate within the “high performance compute/Big Data data storage” category
- Advise executives and ClusterStor business leaders and staff in new ways, regarding new decisions and business situations
Despite these needs, the company had limited staff or other resources devoted to communications and public relations.
The Game Changer
Xyratex hired Game Changer Communications in November 2012, and ever since the firm has functioned as an integral part of the Xyratex corporate communications team. The program, to date, has included the following activity:
- Comprehensive baseline benchmarking and analysis of Xyratex’ relative position with regard to media coverage frequency and quality, share of voice, message pull-through and more, and how those metrics compare to its primary competition
- Developing, drafting and refining a comprehensive message platform for Xyratex and its primary business units, including ClusterStor
- Devising and executing a comprehensive content marketing and management strategy, which has included blogging, case study development, issuing news releases, sharing and engaging in social media and more
- Assisting with a corporate branding update by writing all new copy for its website, to embody the new messaging and better assert the company’s market leadership position
- Handling all media relations preparation, outreach, follow-up, monitoring, reporting, etc.
- Assisting with the execution of the 2013 Xyratex Sales Kickoff event in Orlando, and speaking as part of the marketing team to educate, mobilize and equip the sales force
- Executing analyst communications, including two analyst tours, with the marketing team
- Providing PR support and execution for Xyratex’ presence at major industry events
- Managing and executing corporate and product awards submissions
- Planning and helping executives and staff navigate major corporate events, including a major acquisition, a CEO transition and more (including comprehensive internal communications assistance and planning)
In the company’s first quarter with Game Changer Communications on board, the company experienced the following:
- 77 news stories appeared, a 2.5x increase in quantity of media coverage over the quarter before and 15 more stories than were captured in the previous fiscal year
- A 2.5x surge in a combined “total points” measurement of coverage quantity and quality over the previous quarter
- 94% of the coverage was positive or neutral in tone
- 43.8% share of voice in the new category; more than double its nearest competitor, and a 16% increase over the previous quarter
- A 19% increase in Twitter followers and a 23% increase in Facebook likes
- 16 blog posts were published, nearly 3x as many as in the quarter before and almost as many as were published in the previous fiscal year
- A successful website launch, presence at major events, Sales Kickoff and analyst tours
In short, Xyratex now has the infrastructure in place to fulfill its promise in its various market categories. It also has the resources it needs to continue to execute the program, and sustain and grow the company’s brand, presence and leadership position.
Realityworks, Inc. was established in 1995 with the mission to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, and to address child abuse and neglect through educational products. This unique company is most famous for its RealCare Baby, and over the last decade it has developed several other simulators and programs with the desire to create engaging, experiential learning tools that help educators engage students while bettering the human condition. New products address career preparation areas such as business management, finance and entrepreneurship, and most recently a welding simulation system known as teachWELD. The company has made a worldwide impact, sending simulators into more than 67% of U.S. school districts and reaching more than 6 million young people. Programs also extend to more than 89 countries worldwide.
In the summer of 2012, Realityworks led the formation of the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC), a consortium of businesses working together to spotlight emerging economic skills gaps and advocate for career and technical education (CTE) as a means of bridging those gaps. The cause has enjoyed broad support, but in order to accomplish its mission the IWNC had to become relevant among policymakers, businesses and members of the public discussing the issue. And as a brand new organization, the IWNC had to start from scratch in terms of name recognition, brand equity, industry cache, etc.
The Game Changer
Realityworks hired Game Changer Communications to lay a solid communications foundation for the IWNC, give the organization a voice and raise its profile around the nation. The program included the following elements:
- Refining IWNC key messages
- Writing the copy for the IWNC website – www.iwnc.org
- Drafting 10 blog posts on related issues to feed the blog on the IWNC website
- Researching 250+ organizations, and the appropriate contacts at each, that could potentially join the IWNC and may be interested in organizational correspondence
- Harvesting CTE success stories from around the nation, to be used by the IWNC to show the potential value of its efforts
- Recruiting large organizations to join the cause
- Searching for news stories, blog posts and other public discussion about skills gaps and CTE, and responding and dialoguing with the authors and other commenters on behalf of the IWNC. Through the responses, we celebrated successes, supported public policy and program creation efforts, validated the benefits of CTE to the community and economy, defended CTE policy and community efforts and more – and, just as importantly, we tied the discussion back to the IWNC, its efforts and its website. These efforts to link the IWNC to the public discussion took place each weekday for eight months.
As Realityworks executives have attested, the IWNC now has “a heartbeat.” The organization has secured more allies and funding, and has moved to add staff and more resources to execute on its mission. Partnerships have been formed with the Association for Career and Technical Education, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, WorkBoots.com and others to further the organization’s reach and influence. Also, IWNC website traffic has increased steadily, a clear sign that the messages, public commentary and communications efforts are resonating with the public.
In short, the IWNC has arrived as an organization and found its voice, and has a strong communications foundation on which to advance its agenda and advocate for progress in the United States.
As the gold standard of professional organizations for business credit professionals, Forius is the go-to resource for business credit professionals and delivers national reach and opportunities as an affiliate of the trade organization NACM. In addition, Forius works with organizations of all kinds to deliver the tools and information they need to make smarter and more profitable credit decisions.
In 2014, Forius worked internally and with outside consultants to review its strategic direction and assets, and two key findings emerged from a marketing and member/client service perspective. First, there had been some organizational change in recent years; there was new executive leadership and other staff, its relationship with NACM was changing and its profile in the credit industry was growing, among other factors. Because of the changes, Forius’ everyday operations and the way the organization referred to itself in its website, collateral and other messaging drifted out of alignment. Second, Forius had been using the same logo, collateral templates and general visual identity for many years, and the review team felt it no longer fit the mission and culture of the organization. So in late 2014, in response to the analysis, Forius launched an initiative to update and freshen its identity and message, and once again align them with the organization’s strategic direction.
The Game Changer
Forius hired Game Changer Communications in late 2014 to help the organization achieve its objectives. Over the next 3-4 months, Game Changer:
- Created, drafted and polished a comprehensive message platform for Forius. The process included: in-depth interviews with several staff members; an analysis of current and historical collateral documents and other marketing assets; and research on the various brand and message attributes of similar and competitive organizations to Forius. Deliverables included an elevator pitch, a series of key message bullet points and narrative copy. Each piece in the platform was carefully crafted to spotlight Forius’ two co-existing yet independent organizational units while still focusing on the whole of the organization.
- Drafted a series of new collateral pieces for Forius that reflected the new message and identity. The pieces included an overview brochure and one-pagers for its various service functions.
- Advised another outside agency as it worked on the visual design of the new collateral.
At the conclusion of the project, Forius had achieved all of its program objectives. While it’s hard to quantify the impact of this work on the organization (for example, in terms of new members or revenue), staff reported that Forius accomplished the following:
- Its brand became significantly stronger, and its identity became clearer and more recognizable to internal and external stakeholders.
- The organization’s key messaging became clear and consistent enough that staff had a much easier time talking to current and prospective members and clients about everyday items. This improvement has translated to better customer service.
- The new collateral documents, because of the messaging they contain and the format in which they’re designed, cost less to print and can be delivered in more ways to those that want/need them.
- Forius’ Board of Directors and executive leadership have all praised the project and its deliverables.
In Their Words
“Jason helped our organization develop a series of collateral pieces for us to use in day-to-day sales and marketing efforts. He was client-focused, responsive and committed to helping us get the best results. Jason really understands how people outside PR and marketing think, and has a unique ability to translate that understanding into messaging and strategy that really works. We were very pleased with the result of the project: strong, concise copy that gives our most-used collateral a fresh and meaningful message and resonates with our target publics.”
–Emily Lee, Marketing Manager