Newark element14, a high-service electronics distributor, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation intended to unveil their first updated product in years. To help launch it globally, Walker Sands created a PR strategy that consisted of influencer marketing, social engagement, media pre-briefings and product giveaways. This work captured a large share of voice, boosted sales by over 50%, and earned thousands of social shares.
Read the full project overview
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized single-board computer first developed in the United Kingdom to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and emerging countries. What began as a learning tool for students and tinkerers has grown into a global phenomenon. Since its launch in 2012, more than 6 million Raspberry Pi boards have been sold to students, professional engineers and hobbyists around the world.
Newark element14 is a high-service electronics distributor based in Chicago and one of only two authorized North American distributors of the Raspberry Pi. Newark element14 is also home to the world’s largest online community of engineers and technology enthusiasts, element14.com, with 400,000 registered members and counting. There, purchasers and engineers can connect with peers and experts to tap into a range of independent technical information, advice and helpful tools that span the electronics, education and industrial sectors.
In February 2015, Newark element14 and the Raspberry Pi Foundation needed to launch the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, the first major iteration of the board since the original version launched in February 2012. The new board offers six times the speed and twice the memory of the original product, but still costs less than $35.
As Newark element14's PR agency-of-record for nearly two years, Walker Sands was tapped to help launch the new board on a global scale, capture share of voice over its competitors, and drive sales of the brand’s exclusive accessories and add-ons. Given the importance of Newark element14’s online engineering community, Walker Sands was also tasked with engaging community members on topics of interest related to the Raspberry Pi 2.
Leveraging the agency’s familiarity with Newark element14’s business model and sales goals, as well as existing relationships with top-tier media outlets, Walker Sands quickly formulated a comprehensive PR strategy for the global rollout of the Raspberry Pi 2.
Key elements of Walker Sands’ approach included:
- YouTube vlogs and social engagement: A critical component of the PR strategy involved the pre-selection of early adopters, journalists and other influencers to interact with the new product and share their experiences and impressions of the board through non-traditional channels. From sending samples to vloggers on YouTube for unboxing videos to coordinating giveaways on social channels, the campaign generated buzz in the places that enthusiasts and likely buyers typically frequented.
- Media pre-briefings and first looks: Walker Sands targeted a slate of top-tier media outlets in the technology and engineering spaces both locally and nationally for one-on-one interviews with the Newark element14 team prior to the launch to build anticipation and guarantee a steady cadence of press coverage immediately following the announcement. Journalists were briefed under embargo on the new specifications of the board as well as the company’s exclusive accessories before the news was made public to ensure any stories covering Raspberry Pi 2 prominently featured Newark element14.
- Continued momentum post-launch: Following the initial success of the launch in February, Walker Sands sought to maintain buzz and public interest in the new Raspberry Pi. In the summer of 2015, the agency worked with technology publication Engadget to give away an exclusive 16-piece kit of Raspberry Pi 2 accessories, valued at $600, to readers. Additionally, Walker Sands worked closely with the community team to identify and promote user-generated Raspberry Pi content – such as product guides and project tutorials – both at element14.com and with media.
Walker Sands’ work in developing and executing the new product launch campaign boosted Newark element14’s Raspberry Pi sales by 67 percent during the first half of 2015. Other outcomes of Walker Sands’ work included:
- Feature stories in The New York Times, Engadget, Chicago Tribune, The Verge and other leading technology, business and local publications. The campaign generated 84 placements during the month of the launch alone. These placements inspired significant shares on Twitter (6,997 shares), Facebook (28,475 shares) and LinkedIn (1,480 shares).
- An Engadget giveaway following the launch generated added exposure for the Raspberry Pi 2 and Newark element14. The giveaway featured 17,323 entries and more than 1,300 social shares.
- Outreach to key influencers resulted in eight high-quality YouTube unboxing videos. These videos received more than 60,000 total views. Each video boasted an average subscriber base of 10,000 viewers, with the most successful vlogger reaching 70,000 subscribers.
Walker Sands capitalized on the momentum of the campaign to perform additional PR and marketing initiatives post-launch. Going forward, Walker Sands continues to serve as a trusted PR and marketing partner to Newark element14 and has played an integral role in launching Newark element14’s line of accessories for Raspberry Pi 2.