Newsjacking During the Pandemic: Storytelling COVID-19 Prevention Solutions with FLIR Systems

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, first in Asia and then Europe, many technology companies were rushing to highlight any products and tools to help combat the virus, for better or worse.

R\West technology client, FLIR Systems, had already developed thermal imaging solutions to detect elevated skin temperature for previous pandemics, which happens to be one of the main symptoms of COVID-19.

Starting in February, R\West and FLIR kicked media relations into high gear to help spread the word about the value of thermal imaging and its solutions for slowing the spread of COVID-19 as a frontline screening tool. FLIR had been there before—the world leader in thermal imaging had seen spikes in interest and adoption of thermal cameras during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and subsequent outbreaks from Ebola to H1N1, but COVID-19 was different. It was going global and fast.

First Show Credibility and the Coverage will Follow

The R\West PR team made sure to keep the messaging as fresh as possible as the public learned new aspects about COVID-19, including how and where it was spreading and how it could be slowed. Furthermore, as the company with the most experience in this field, R\West’s strategy including focusing more on the “why” for thermal cameras, versus focusing on its owned, self-serving solutions, to differentiate itself as the true industry experts, culminating in a crucial endorsement from WIRED in a piece that explored how thermal imaging actually works to detect elevated skin temperature, scientifically. The team also secured a full-page color spread in the New York Times with a similar theme.

The R\West team worked closely with FLIR’s in-house PR team and spokespersons to manage the enormous ensuing interest from other top-tier media including CBS This Morning, CNBC Squawk Alley, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal. With the mainstream press strategy designed around education and awareness, the vertical market communication focused more on solutions for education, facilities management, transportation, and the public safety industries.

In addition to working with media throughout the U.S. and Canada, R\West collaborated with FLIR’s regional agencies around the world to align on strategy and messaging around elevated skin temperature so that they could conduct media work in their markets.

As the pandemic evolved through the spring, FLIR introduced a new series of elevated skin temperature cameras and software designed to increase accuracy while speeding the screening process. By tapping into previous editorial contacts, both mainstream and trade, R\West secured additional rounds of coverage, positioning FLIR as the industry thought leader with the products to match. This included leveraging major customer wins, scoring an exclusive with Reuters about the FLIR camera deployment with General Motors.

Results

From February to June, for the U.S. and Canada, R\West helped conduct dozens of press interviews, generating more than 350 earned placements and a FLIR record of 170 million earned impressions for a single campaign.

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