c3PR’s Award-Winning Article Boosts Sales for AppliedSensor

It can take months of pitching to land a full-length technical feature article for a client, followed by two or more weeks to write the content, create the graphics and secure client approval. In this instance, c3PR completed an article about the technological advancements of automotive sensors for a new client in the two weeks between Christmas and New Years, with artwork for the magazine’s cover conceived and produced over a weekend. And the agency won an International Marketing Creativity Award to boot!

The idea for an article on recent developments in automotive sensors was first pitched to Sensors Magazine in July, 2003 by an independent consultant working for AppliedSensor. The article was accepted by Sensors Magazine and scheduled to run the following February. This gave the company five months to produce the final content and supporting graphics by the December 1 deadline.

Later that summer the consultant moved to California and forgot about the article, as did her client. On December 1, the Sensors’ Editor called AppliedSensor CEO Tom Aiken to ask when she could expect the manuscript. Tom called the consultant, who apologized and made a frenzied call to the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America to ask if there was a PR agency that would take on a 2,000-word, limited-budget article with an impossible deadline.

At the time, Mar Junge, principal of c3PR, was PRSA-SV’s newsletter editor. Sensor technology intrigued her, and as December was historically a slow month for c3PR, she accepted the project. Mar then negotiated a two-week extension with the editor. Although the turn-around time was still very short, Mar thought it was “doable” – that is, until she found out that instead of working with the New Jersey-based office of AppliedSensor, she would be interviewing engineers and scientists in Europe who had never written a technical article, much less one for an English-language publication.

The next few weeks were filled with long hours of background research, writing content and numerous fact-checking after-midnight phone calls to Germany and Sweden. Despite the language barriers and complex technology, Mar met Sensor’s mid-December deadline. While reviewing the final manuscript and graphics with the editor, Mar mentioned how fascinating the sensor layer’s tin oxide grains looked when magnified a thousand times. She suggested that if the black-and-white microphotograph were colorized, the image would make an eye-stopping magazine cover. Even though the cover art for Sensors’ February edition – a static photo of a nondescript automobile – had been selected months earlier, the editor said that if c3PR could have a retouched photo on her desk by Monday morning, she’d consider using it.

AppliedSensor sent original microphotographs to c3PR Graphic Designer Lisa Bianchi, who worked all weekend to produce three cover designs, one each in brilliant blue, vibrant green and sizzling red. On Monday morning, the Sensors Art Director chose the blue photo, but informed c3PR that the retouched 4-by-6-inch microphotograph had a 72 dpi resolution, which was much too low to produce a crisp image when enlarged 200% for the cover. To have a shot at the cover, the microphotographs would have to be retaken. And Fast.

“No problem,” Mar told him.
Major problem. AppliedSensors’ microphotography lab in Sweden was closed for the Holidays. Apparently, the Swedes take their vacations very seriously.

“If you haven’t left the country for a warmer location, you certainly don’t let your colleagues know you’re stuck at home in the snow by answering the phone. It took a lot of pleading by us and arm twisting by the AppliedSensor CEO to get the engineers to open up the lab, set up the microscopes and reshoot the sensor layers. When the photo files finally arrived on New Year’s Eve day, Lisa redid the retouching and had the new cover artwork to Sensors’ New York office by 5 p.m.

AppliedSensor signed with c3PR in 2003 and remains a satisfied client to this day. “The leads and credibility generated by this article boosted our worldwide sales tremendously. For example, we sent copies of the article to General Motors, A .O. Smith, Electrolux, Siemens, White-Rogers (Emerson Electric) and Fedders Corp. Instead of us having to make cold calls on these prospects, they called us and invited us to meet with them,” said Aiken.

In an unsolicited letter to AppliedSensor, Sensors Magazine Editor Stephanie Henkel wrote, “This was an extremely well-written article. Rare, and a joy to my heart.”

Later that year, c3PR received an International MarCom Creativity Award for this project.