SST, Inc. is the global leader in gunfire detection and location technology, which pinpoints the location of gun shots. The company’s technology was always an attention-getter, but SST struggled to properly project its story through the right optics.
How so? SST allowed its customers – law enforcement agencies – to tell the company’s story. The company took a very formulaic approach to communications which consisted of press releases on a new installation in a given city, allowing the purchasing law enforcement agency to be front and center in the press release and in the resulting coverage. SST would participate on a limited basis and focus its attention on national outlets. However, SST was largely reactionary to inbound requests from the national media due to the attention placed on city-by-city installations. When the company responded to an inbound request, it didn’t work to shift the opportunity to a broader storyline. As a result, while SST received media coverage, the company was very limited in its output, didn’t control the storyline and, effectively, abdicated its voice in the media relations process. More importantly, the SST story “stopped” at the point of sale. No outcomes were present in the story or the coverage so neither the technology nor the company received attention or credit for its positive impact within the communities it served.
Enter M/P. We were tasked with:
- Creating new optics around SST’s overall storyline
- Establishing and controlling the dialogue with national and mainstream media during the media relations process
- Generating broader, long-form coverage around the company’s mission
- Determining the best method to show the positive outcomes it created within communities
- Turning the SST news creation process in a new direction to create company-focused coverage around its announcements
We first had to determine how to take SST’s existing but unused content and deploy it in a new way. We also had to think strategically to shift the story focus from the sale to what SST was able to accomplish in communities after the installation of the technology. This was a complete 180-degree shift from how SST had handled its communications approach and required the company to think about communications and media relations in a new way.
Our team developed and instituted the following key shifts to the SST communications process:
- Vocalize Vision:
We reshaped the SST storyline around the CEO’s vision of improving communities by first generating awareness around the correlations between gun violence and public health issues, such as “Urban PTSD.” This thought leadership approach established the CEO as the face of the issue, framed the unseen ramifications of gun violence and its consequences and illustrated that the solution comes from a combination of technology, data and people.
- Report Outcomes:
We worked with SST to visualize, create and launch the National Gunfire Index, a quarterly report that sheds light on the often shocking nature and volume of illegal gun activity in America. We then used these reports to drive the national dialogue on gunshot violence. This was a key element in giving SST its voice back within the media process and establishing regular, proactive interaction with the national and mainstream media.
- Show First, Tell Second:
SST’s technology had several visual elements that we knew would be attractive to broadcast media and other national outlets to both add spice to the story and enable it to be better understood. Our team reshaped the cadence in which SST conducted media briefings so that the technology would first be seen and then the company representative would be heard. This allowed the media to be brought into the story and gain a deeper understanding of how the outcomes aspect of it was accomplished.
- Prove the Proof:
Illegal gunfire and its associated impact were previously largely antidotal and reported by various sources. We pushed SST to validate its findings through both the National Gunfire Index and associated visual technology that proved a correlation between the report findings and the concentration of constant gun violence in various cities across the U.S. This validation elevated the significance of the overall story, the Index itself and the company’s technology.
In a nine-month period, SST received more national, mainstream print and broadcast media attention than any other period in its 17-year history. Highlights included:
- Ten national media and major metro articles on the Company, the National Gunfire Index and overall mission including:
- Washington Post: Front-page, above-the-fold Sunday lead article with accompanying video interview in online addition
- San Francisco Chronicle: Front-page lead story
- San Jose Mercury News: Front-page business section lead story
- CNN: 8-minute and 2.5-minute feature segments aired; The shorter segment can be viewed on the CNN website
- Forbes: Feature article on the company and its technology
- National and local broadcast, radio, print and online coverage on the critical infrastructure/school product launch, including:
- All San Francisco Television Network Affiliates: Multiple segments on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox which ran on the 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. news broadcasts.
- Bloomberg West TV: Live on-air interview with SST CEO
- Syndicated Coverage: The front page coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and front page coverage in the San Jose Mercury News business section were syndicated and appeared in 18 other daily newspapers throughout the U.S.
- National print and broadcast coverage on SST technology including:
- Los Angeles Times: Company feature on the potential of SST technology for protection of critical infrastructure
- Discovery Channel: “Daily Planet” segment highlighted SST technology and the company’s thought leadership messaging
- Al Jazeera America: News feature segment highlighting SST technology and the company’s mission and thought leadership
- San Francisco Business Times: Company feature highlighting SST’s mission and thought leadership