Eiler Success Stories

Starlight Networks

Client Background

Since its formation in 1992, Starlight Networks has become the world leader in standards-based video streaming solutions for enterprise networks. Leading the charge to bring rich data types, like streaming video and audio, to desktop PCs, Starlight has created improved communications, enhanced training practices and increased competitiveness. More than 450 companies around the world have benefited from Starlight solutions. Through its software, services and partnerships, Starlight has made video-on-demand and IP multicasting a reality for organizations like Smith Barney, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Harvard Business School and CSX Transportation. Starlight supports customers in every aspect of creating and delivering digital media solutions, enabling comprehensive management of streaming media over enterprise networks.

Situation

Until recently, most reporters and analysts regarded streaming video as an interesting but frivolous component for the Internet. Contrary to this perception, Starlight successfully used streaming video technology to deliver high-end, mission-critical business applications for corporate intranets in leading organizations worldwide. Yet most discussions (and criticisms) about streaming video among reporters and analysts focused mainly on the low-resolution versions for the Internet, where bandwidth caused serious constraints. Concerned that this lack of awareness would eventually hurt Starlight in corporate purchasing decisions, the company hired Eiler Communications in 1995 to create visibility for Starlight and the streaming video market.

Strategy

We centered our strategy on educating the media and analysts about the different aspects of the streaming video market. We wanted reporters and analysts to understand the differences between intranet and Internet applications of streaming video. By doing so, we wanted them to critically re-examine the companies on which they had previously focused. We also wanted to showcase the great potential streaming video has as a provider of vital corporate applications.

Tactics

We focused on the benefits Starlight’s previous customers had gained and highlighted them in customer success stories. By using customers such as the U.S. Marine Corps, investment giant Smith Barney and Europe’s Banque Paribas, as models, we were able to demonstrate Starlight’s ability to deliver real solutions for real business needs. To reinforce this message, we sent Starlight executives on quarterly tours beginning in September 1995. We employed this tactic to publicize Starlight’s momentum and success as well as to generate excitement for the market as a whole. Throughout the campaign we sent out various releases highlighting successes and partnerships to attract new customers and strategic partners. Included in the releases was news about Starlight’s working relationships with Compaq, Samsung and Progressive Networks (now called RealNetworks).

Results

The perception of the streaming video market has come a long way since its beginnings. Reporters and analysts have become better informed and are more discerning about the market. This improvement in knowledge has resulted in favorable articles about Starlight and its technology. A major achievement was the Sept. 15, 1997 Information Week cover story in which the writer, Justin Hibbard, declared: “Streaming video technology, until now relegated to the gee-whiz realm of niche applications and mass-media Web sites, is making its move into mainstream business.”

Particularly effective in generating coverage for Starlight were the constant press and analyst tours.  For instance, Starlight’s Smith Barney Tour in February 1997 resulted in feature articles in several publications, including a NetworkWorld cover story, Datamation, and Inter@ctive Week.  Even more important, these articles acknowledged Starlight’s dominance in providing corporate solutions using streaming video technology. Two Feb. 17, 1997, articles appearing in different publications underscored this point.  Chris Nerney of NetworkWorld wrote:  “...the (Starlight-Smith Barney) deal is the ‘first really big one’ involving IP Multicast technology.”  Joe McGarvey of Interactiveweek wrote:  “...Starlight’s focus on the corporate network makes its technology much more suitable for the corporate environment than a video delivery technology aimed at the public network.”