The Situation

Zoom appointed Hotwire in late February 2020 with a brief to raise its profile and brand awareness in two key European markets - the UK and Germany.

The brief however very quickly changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the global health crisis evolved, people relied on Zoom to stay connected with their colleagues, friends and family. This saw the number of meeting participants on Zoom balloon at an unprecedented rate: from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to 300 million daily meeting participants in April this year.

Overnight we were asked to extend the programme into 14 countries and manage 19 worldwide.

The challenge Zoom presented us with was to manage the intense media interest the brand and its platform was attracting as people adjusted to the realities of staying at home. Overnight, Zoom became
synonymous with the new normal and we needed to carefully control the message. We needed to:

• Manage global media enquiries in order to maintain the overwhelmingly positive sentiment Zoom was attracting

• Provide the media with new and up-to-date relevant information, managing enquiries and ensuring the right messaging was consistently delivered, combating misleading information

• Support Zoom’s growth potential in these 19 international markets

Strategy & Execution

The growth Zoom was experiencing was being reflected in the press in realtime, with the brand gaining massive exposure globally. It was necessary to manage and control the media’s interest by concentrating on ensuring the correct information and messages were being provided, as well as educating reporters about the company, its philosophy and its solutions. We got to work coordinating an international plan to manage the global media interest with a focus on shifting sentiment and supporting potential growth.

Our plan was straightforward. Working as part of a global team comprising Zoom, crisis partner SardVerb Partners, Government Relations specialists and our global network, we built a 24×7 media management taskforce. We put in place a ‘follow the sun’ approach and established clear communication protocols that ensured media firestorms were extinguished through proactive, direct engagement with key reporters.

We sought not to be just reactive, but to leverage the high interest to place landmark stories in the world’s premier media. This would require careful balancing and tight media management to ensure tone, sentiment and messaging were positive to Zoom.

Over a period of four months, the global team managed hundreds of requests and responded to dozens of erroneous media reports. We proactively sought retractions, secured corrections and ensured Zoom’s
statements were included in editorial coverage.

At the same time, the teams maintained a focus on building strong media relationships, seeking to deliver high impact editorial coverage in support of Zoom’s clearly laid out business strategy, led by CEO Eric Yuan. We leveraged the transparency and humility shown in Eric’s weekly updates to ensure the world’s media were kept updated on progress and on the massive contribution Zoom was making in keeping people connected, delivering home schooling and maintaining working relationships.

The Hotwire PR teams provided 24/7 global media monitoring, both for organic and earned coverage. The teams remained ready to identify negative press and take action by providing approved statements, proactively securing corrections where erroneous statements were published and by offering interviews with Zoom in order to manage sentiment effectively.

The teams also supported Zoom’s annual user conference, Zoomtopia in October. This year was the first time it was held virtually. Hotwire US, UK, Spain and Germany, together with 17 partner agencies from the Hotwire network, worked closely with Zoom to drive a three phased international media strategy as well as partnering with their crisis agency to develop a crisis and monitoring protocol throughout the event itself.

The event had over 50,000 attendees, with over 75 global media registered to attend, including the likes of The Telegraph, Business Insider, CNBC, Hong Kong Economic Times, Economist, Financial Times and USA Today. The event drove 740+ press articles, with 64% appearing in tier 1 business and tech publications. As a direct result, during the dates of the event taking place, Zoom’s share price rose by 3.1% (October 14th – 15th 2020).

The Results

During the period April to end August 2020, Zoom experienced exponential growth in media interest. Earned media mentions globally broke all records, with Zoom becoming the go to phrase (verb) when talking about remote working and keeping in touch with family, friends and co-workers.

Through careful media management, the team successfully steered sentiment in a positive direction and kept the core message of Zoom as an easy, reliable and innovative video first platform front of mind with audiences all over the world.

The team skillfully rode the media news cycle and, working with Government Relations, provided valuable support to Zoom’s sales efforts resulting in multiple business wins across key market sectors, including the Singapore Ministry of Education.

Global reach.
Local flavour.