Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 4 - Public Information
Armor Holdings IACP Press Reception
Reese Riggle, Trista Wallace, APR, The Dalton Agency

Golden Image Award

Research/Situation Analysis: Armor Holdings, the parent company for dozens of industry-leading brands serving the military and law enforcement markets, has seen its law enforcement product brands market share and market position erode during the past 10 years. This is due to myriad reasons, most notably the lack of formal and sustained media relations to the domestic law enforcement trade media. Surging competitive brands have increased their customer perception (distributors, agency purchasers and officers) through effective and sustained editorial coverage. Armor Holdings partnered with The Dalton Agency to manage brand awareness for all brands late-summer 2006. The Agency targeted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) trade show in Boston to “re-introduce” the parent company and its brands to the domestic law enforcement media community.

Objectives: 1. To introduce the 12 Armor Holdings brands to at least half (18) of the domestic law enforcement media outlets attending IACP. 2. To secure at least 10 media placements from the brands’ new product announcements in the targeted media as a result of this campaign.

Implementation: The Dalton Agency prepared three separate and distinct launch strategies for Armor Holdings to consider, all of which were designed to build and reinforce relationships with the media, introduce new product lines, and reinforce brand and corporate messaging. After careful consideration, we chose to plan and execute a media reception, which distinctly and creatively gave the 12 Armor Holdings brands a forum to discuss overall company direction, new product developments and market position in an informal atmosphere.
Since none of the Armor Holdings companies have proactively managed media relationships during the past 10 years, coupled with the fact that the media have never heard from anyone at the agency, we were fighting an uphill battle for media attention. The law enforcement products industry is saturated with hundreds of companies. For all of these reasons, a creative and substantive introduction and event were crucial. The agency developed a custom, “chunky” invitation: a metallic tin that contained a left-handed glove from Hatch (an Armor Holdings company exhibiting at the media reception) with a tag attached stating “Get the Right Information from the Right People – And Get the Right Glove – The Armor Holdings Media Reception at IACP.” On top of the glove was the invitation to the reception with the necessary date, time, RSVP and other information. Wrapped around the tin was a teaser stating “Would You Like to Get Both Hands on Some Hot New Products?”
We obtained a list of media who had registered to attend IACP and identified those that fit within our target market to receive the invitation to our media reception. Additional media were also targeted from all law enforcement media outlets (who were not “officially” attending). The agency personally contacted every member of the targeted media to follow-up on this invitation and collect RSVPs. In addition, agency representatives walked the show floor the day prior to the event with flyer versions of the invitation that they distributed to additional media representatives. Finally, to ensure attendees didn’t forget about the reception in the hustle of the IACP trade show, agency representatives sent an email reminder the afternoon of the event to all media who had RSVP’d to attend.
The event itself was held in a private room in the hotel adjoining the IACP convention center and was catered with heavy hors d'oeuvres, a carving station and beverage service. A crucial component of the marketing of the individual brands owned by Armor Holdings is to give them brand autonomy while supporting the parent company. Room configuration supported this, as each brand had its own table with media material and actual product on display. To distinguish the 12 brand “stations” around the room, oversized visuals were placed behind each brand’s table. Brand managers and other Armor Holdings representatives stood casually near their respective brand areas to meet with the media representatives as they browsed the room.
While the press kits for each brand were available during the event, we offered to mail the kits to the journalists following the event so they wouldn’t need to carry them back from IACP in their luggage. The day after the event, we mailed the press kits to all attending journalists and followed-up with them via phone and email to ensure they had all necessary information to cover Armor Holdings’ brands and products in their publications.

Evaluation: 1. Response to the invitation was exceptional. More than 20 journalists RSVP’d representing more than 25 publications. Actual attendance exceeded RSVPs, with more than 29 journalists representing 29 outlets attending – exceeding our first objective goal. Attending media were impressed with the invitation and commented on its uniqueness and cleverness. They were excited to get their “right glove.” Our thorough follow-up techniques also proved successful in ensuring a large turn-out for the event as several media mentioned getting the reminder on their Blackberry that afternoon. 2. Directly resulting from the media relations before, during and after the IACP media reception, a total of 37 media placements have been secured (with additional placements expected), totaling nearly 12 million impressions at a value of $172,000, far exceeding our second objective goal.

Budget: The total budget for this event was $19,600 ($600 for invitation design and mailing, $2,300 for signage, $3,000 for press kit materials, $4,700 for room reservation, food and beverage, $2,000 travel for agency representatives, and $7,000 for Dalton Agency account service).