Educational toy manufacturer LeapFrog began as a struggling startup in the mid-1990s. With funds tight, managers of the company decided the only way to get the word out about their products was through the power of PR.
The essence of their strategy started in 1999 as the company tried to influence parents about the value of their learning toys. They managed to get the company and its products written up in a variety of influential parenting magazines, women’s magazines, and trade publications specific to the toy and education industries, as well as discussed on television talk shows.
The efforts soon began paying off. In 2001, the company’s revenues were $313 million. By 2002, sales were up by 62.1 percent with net income up by more than 80 percent.
According to PR Week, one reason for LeapFrog’s amazing success using public relations marketing methods was the fact that the company was “highly adept at adopting marketing messages that played well with key media.”
The company was also very adaptable to world conditions. After September 11, 2001, LeapFrog turned to a more personal PR method to get their message out about their learning toys. As Christmas approached, they sent industry executives on media tours in major US marketplaces.
Meeting with the media as well as with parents directly, they discussed ways learning toys could help parents deal with the impact of the incident on their children. Doing so earned the company 30 national news stories and interviews discussing the company, its media efforts, and of course its products.
Today, LeapFrog is still very committed to PR. Instead of introducing new toys using traditional marketing methods such as advertising, the company introduces new products through new PR initiatives. According to Kimberly Pierce, who has headed the company’s PR team from the outset, “Just a few short years ago, we were the little underdog that could. … Now Leapfrog is a category leader.”
LeapFrog has done very well by taking advantage of the power of PR. If you read other blogs and articles here on my LinkedIn pages or on our company website, you will find several more examples, including how Apple Computer used PR in its early years and how PR helped the Concorde quite literally get off the ground.
The power that PR has over other types of marketing is simple: it’s more credible. When people stop and read an article about a company and its product or as in LeapFrog’s case, learn about them with strategically planned media placements, trust between the consumer and the company evolve, and with trust come sales.