Working with online communities to grow a customer base

Reaching a very close-knit, niche community is a challenge for any large corporation.  When Saint-Gobain Corporation, one of the top 100 industrial companies in the world, engineered a line of revolutionary chemical protective suits under its Performance Plastics division, it realized the importance of connecting directly with the closely-knit emergency responder community and demonstrating an understanding of their needs.

To reach emergency responders, ABI marketing public relations implemented a fusion of traditional and social media tactics, by monitoring “hot topics” in relevant firefighter discussion boards to generate article topic ideas.  This form of active listening was the seed for articles developed under Saint-Gobain bylines. Relevant, timely and important to the lives of firefighters, the articles were featured on the covers of top industry publications positioning Saint-Gobain as a thought leader to emergency responders throughout the world.  ABI also leveraged industry forums to generate invaluable feedback on the hazmat suits’ design from end-users.  This outreach positioned Saint-Gobain as a company focused on fulfilling the needs of its end-users by listening to their input.

ABI understood the value of establishing a social media presence for Saint-Gobain’s product line, leveraging the credibility of targeted channels to foster in-person relationships with key industry bloggers at trade shows and meet-up events. The tone of the resulting coverage was believable and penetrated the vibrant and close-knit community of first responders — Saint-Gobain’s core target audience.

A strategic mix of traditional and social media outreach proved to be the key for generating awareness of Saint-Gobain’s growing product line.