As the May 6, 2010 “Flash Crash” of the Dow Jones Industrial Average unfolded, the LEWIS team identified it as an opportunity to leverage. They quickly implemented a strategy for building Progress Software’s new corporate identity. They would use the breaking news story as a platform to speak about Progress’s RPM branding, establish the company’s credibility as an expert resource and gain ongoing, high-level media coverage about the company.
LEWIS knew the market crash could have been caused by a trader’s “fat-finger” or a rogue-trading algorithm. Progress Software’s Apama platform encompasses algorithmic trading, real-time pricing, and market surveillance functionality that can limit human errors made in trading. Progress Software was the perfect source for commentary. Armed with that knowledge, the LEWIS team set about leveraging the expertise of Progress CTO, Dr. John Bates, to comment on the Flash Crash, as well as preventive measures that could be enacted by regulatory bodies. Bates is the perfect spokesperson for the issue since he founded Apama and is a member of the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) run by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This appointment gave Bates the additional credibility and third-party validation that journalists look for. Bates could deliver key messages about Progress RPM as it related to the Flash Crash and his expert commentary would pave the way to global name recognition for Progress.
Throughout early 2011 various regulatory suggestions were made by the SEC and CFTC and in each instance, Bates’ voice was there in publications including Fortune. As the one-year anniversary of the Flash Crash arrived, LEWIS worked to build out Bates online profile, including working with Business Insider to make Bates into a contributor to their site with posts including, “Only You Can Prevent Flash Crashes.” These opportunities extended his opinions further across the Web.
Ultimately, the team seized a relevant topic receiving cross-industry media coverage, and transformed it into a much bigger story through proactive outreach. By doing this, Progress continues to lead the conversation across media channels on the Flash Crash.
Telling the story to key media
LEWIS began outreach to local and national media outlets, positioning CTO, John Bates, as an expert resource. Using the Flash Crash as a pitch point to segue into a discussion about what Progress Software does, the team secured briefings with journalists from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In order to establish Bates’ credibility even further the team pitched him as an expert to business and financial publications. By early Fall the story had snowballed and LEWIS secured a profile in Investors’ Business Daily and The Boston Business Journal.
In October, the team ran a media tour in NYC, where John Bates met with key financial reporters at Fortune, Time, CNN, The Economist and Dow Jones. Not only did the team secure a high volume of valuable press meetings, but also the relationships established between the Progress executives and the journalists continues to generate further coverage.
Additionally, the team also worked on broadcast opportunities for John Bates. On two separate occasions Bates was featured on Reuters Insider TV to discuss both the Flash Crash and the proposed regulations. In June he will be on the new Yahoo! Finance program “Breakout” to discuss his Splash Crash concept and warnings.
Creating compelling content
Bates wrote a paper for the CFTC’s TAC titled “Algorithmic trading and high frequency trading: experiences from the market and thoughts on regulatory requirements.” The LEWIS team sent a summary of the paper to financial reporters along with Bates’ corporate bio to secure another round of media coverage. The LEWIS team also developed key messages to aid Bates in weaving in information about Progress RPM into his media interviews.
Engaging with core audience online
Another key asset in the campaign, were the timely blog posts by Bates that LEWIS helped to draft. These covered the Flash Crash and were posted on TABB Forum, a highly visible website for the capital market industry. Journalists often check this forum for regulatory commentary and several reporters read the posts by Bates, and then wrote stories quoting him. The contributed posts on Business Insider lend Bates additional mainstream credibility as well and cover the Flash Crash, financial term definitions, and more.
Additionally, the LEWIS team used Twitter to track the Flash Crash story, as well as the journalists covering the financial event. Utilizing the functionality of the Progress Software Twitter handle [@ProgressSW] the team followed relevant reporters and re-Tweeted news stories that both included Progress Software or were simply related to the topic.
Further, the team regularly highlighted John Bates’ involvement on the CFTC’s TAC both via Twitter and through direct media outreach. By re-Tweeting Bates regularly, his critical voice on various financial topics was emphasized. Through both this external and internal validation of Bates’ voice, inbound requests for his expertise increased.