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By Giuseppina Chiaramonte
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

It’s a rare thing in the world of PR when a media campaign comes together so seamlessly — it almost feels easy. When that DOES happen, it’s a thing to be celebrated. Take for instance Hoffman’s recent work for global telecoms giant, Alcatel-Lucent.

Tasked with raising the company’s presence in the United States, Hoffman looked to Bell Labs — Alcatel-Lucent’s “innovation arm” — to find a story.

There was just one problem: Holmdel, New Jersey (where Bell Labs is based) wasn’t exactly known as a budding center for technology.

Though Bell Labs had pioneered a number of tech advancements in its heyday (think: the laser, the transistor, C++ programming) it had recently gained a reputation for being “out-of-touch.” So how could Alcatel-Lucent overcome the misconception that Bell Labs’ best days were behind it?

The Hoffman Agency suggested an event that would embrace Bell Labs’ past and use its history as a launch pad for the future. The concept? A “Big Bang Bash.”

The event would celebrate 50 years since Bell Labs’ discovery of the first solid piece of evidence supporting the Big Bang — cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). It would also serve to re-ignite Bell Labs’ image through the unveiling of the Bell Labs Prize, a research competition aimed at finding the next generation of young innovators.

Hoffman used traditional PR tactics intermingled with humor, visuals and a nimble content strategy to counteract Bell Labs’ “dated” image. After all, what’s less stodgy than a BuzzFeed article?

Our 7 Scientific Discoveries That Happened by Accident celebrated the “serendipity of discovery,” ultimately aiming to connect Bell Labs to the youth it was trying to reach. Here are some highlights:

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(Hats off to Bell Labs for allowing us to push the envelope with the article.)

Following relentless media pitching and social media build-up, the Hoffman team secured top-tier media for the event, as well as 81 pieces of coverage touting Bell Labs’ history — and its subsequent future.

Just one day after the announcement, a total of 21 entries were submitted for the Bell Labs Prize and the momentum carried well into the following months.

Media campaigns, such as this one, are the sort that PR pros dream of. You’ve got a comeback story, a rich history to work with and free rein to get creative with the approach.

Since day one, the Hoffman team worked closely with Bell Labs, brainstorming approaches to push the event out of the galaxy. Nothing was off limits – not even reaching out to Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon (he said no — but it was worth a shot).

THAT is the kind of environment we thrive in, and it’s just the right atmosphere for making amazing things happen.

Stay tuned for our best tips and tricks for putting a media campaign into action next week!

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