As a fledging start-up company with no name recognition in the automotive industry, Protean Electric needed to raise awareness with OEMs and suppliers – the end buyers of the motor. Not only was reaching them an issue, but the company also faced the challenge of overcoming misconceptions and outdated notions of in-wheel motor technology based on previous product evolutions. Finally, speed to market was critical, as OEMs are racing to solve issues now to meet higher CAFE standards through a variety of methods – and in-wheel motors need to be on the consideration list as a viable option. Protean Electric engaged Stratacomm to help raise its profile in the automotive and investment communities, especially reaching influencers to help deliver its messages. Stratacomm approached this project with a sense of urgency, understanding that timing was critical to achieve milestones in a short time frame.
Protean Electric’s goal was to establish the company as a viable disruptive technology that can revolutionize the future of the electric vehicle, and to get the Protean Drive™ in-wheel motor technology on OEM/supplier purchase consideration lists. Stratacomm executed a multi-layered strategy, which included influencer outreach, media relations and thought leadership.
- Influencer/Analyst Outreach – Analysts are important influencers in both the automotive industry and the financial community – and are usually the first source a journalist contacts for a quote in a story. To help Protean Electric generate third-party endorsement and drive its business and financing goals, Stratacomm helped build relationships with Protean Electric and the analyst community. As a first step, we arranged a series of face-to-face meetings and product demonstrations with influential automotive industry analysts to introduce the company and the value of the Protean Drive™. The meetings also positioned company president, Craig Knight, as a thought leader and source on electric vehicle topics, presenting opportunities for continued conversation.
- Media Relations – Stratacomm conducted both proactive and reactive media relations efforts to reinforce and build on the company’s B-to-B initiatives during this important phase. While the ultimate goal of Protean Electric was to surround itself with business and investor targets, a robust media relations campaign allowed us to influence those targets with reinforced messages about Protean Drive™ technology to help attract interest from potential customers and investors. Stratacomm set up key deskside briefings with automotive trade media, including Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Automotive Engineering International, Automotive News, Edmunds and Autoline After Hours. These media also serve as influencers in their own right since they are highly technical and could understand Protean Electric’s in-wheel motor technology (many of these initial media are still Protean Electric’s biggest cheerleaders).
- Thought Leadership – Finally, exhibiting and speaking at key industry events was an important strategy to generate visibility for Protean Electric directly with the individuals in charge of purchasing decisions as well as to visibly demonstrate product benefits. Stratacomm helped Protean Electric get in-person exposure at key automotive and energy conferences – whether as an exhibitor, sponsor or a speaker.
Stratacomm was able to position Protean Electric squarely in front of both influencers and end buyers by implementing a 360-degree “surround” strategy that reached them both directly where they do business, and indirectly by influencing what they read and where they gather information. By the end of the first year, we successfully secured for Protean Electric:
- Deskside briefings with six top-tier analyst firms, including one (Center for Automotive Research) that led to a an exclusive sponsorship opportunity at its top annual event, the Management Briefing Seminars
- 70 media placements in key daily and trade publications equaling 20 million+ media impressions, resulting from more than 25 media interviews with company executives. Key media hits included Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Oakland Press, Automotive News, Truck Trend, Automotive Engineering International, Ward’s AutoWorld, AOL Autos.com and Autoblog Green.
- Active participation at five key industry conferences, including Automotive News Green Car Conference, CAR’s Management Briefing Seminars, The Business of Plugging In, eCarTech, SAE Convergence and SAE Hybrid Vehicle Symposium. Conference participation led to important discussions with influencers and potential buyers, including everyone from former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, to Department of Energy representatives looking for innovations to fund, to the directors of vehicle powertrain programs at the Detroit Three manufacturers.
In the end, Protean Electric is more poised than ever to secure customers now that it has increased its share of voice and name awareness among the circles of influencers who matter most to their business.