NetApp: Using a multinational award to muscle in on the UK news agenda

Background and objectives

In May 2011 we received an excited call from our biggest client NetApp, a  data storage and management specialist; “We think we are about to be ranked really highly in Forbes Magazine’s Best Multinational Workplaces league table and we want major PR exposure for it. The ranking comes out next week and we won’t know until then where we have come.”


1. It’s a US Publication’s Award
2. We don’t know whether we have come top or bottom
3. It’s not about the UK operations specifically
4. Client expectations are very high, and very high profile
5. Our PR would have to compete with other companies in the ranking and the PR from Great Place to Work
6. The announcement was less then a week away

This called for some quick thinking…


Taking the challenges into consideration, Champion planned a campaign to use the award to muscle in on the UK news agenda with thought leadership on employment issues, spearheaded by Dave Allen.

Our strategic approach was to analyse current employment topics in the news and jump onto the UK news agenda. Employment law and executive pay were being discussed at the time, so we focused on developing opinions and thought leadership in these two areas.

We set out by identifying and approaching the journalists who were most likely to be interested in thought leadership pieces on employment issues in the UK, including those from publications aimed at all levels of the business, from HR to C-level. The national media was also targeted, especially on the broadcast side as this went beyond media outlets that would see Fortune ranking as a competitor.


Results exceeded expectations. Broadcast coverage included Dave Allen being interviewed with Sir Martin Sorrell on his views on executive pay for Sky News, as well as an interview on executive pay for ITV News. He also appeared in a video podcast for HR Magazine giving advice on what makes a great workplace. We also got a ‘letter to the editor’ from Dave Allen published in the Financial Times in which he commented on his views on UK employment law.

We secured coverage in The Guardian and HR magazine, online and in print about the award. This gave Dave Allen further opportunity to position NetApp as a great company to end users.

We used social media to support the broadcast media activity by following Dave Allen on his interview schedule. Not only did this enhance exposure to the campaign, it also gave it an internal focus – something NetApp employees could relate to and be proud of.

This campaign demonstrates our ability to take something with a firm US angle and make it relevant and engaging to the UK media – ultimately developing it to ‘matter’ to a new audience. The campaign successfully established Dave Allen as a key spokesperson in the UK.

Using NetApp’s reputation as a great place to work, an opportunity opened up for NetApp’s UK MD to comment on employment law in the Financial Times.

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