Feb 142014
graphic courtesy of npac.com

graphic courtesy of npac.com

Most of my clients engage in content marketing efforts designed to increase revenue. Over the past five years we’ve established a proven methodology for making that happen. But increased sales is not the only outcome content marketing can support.

Content marketing engagements can also pursue public affairs goals. A good example is a campaign being conducted by Neustar. Disclosure — Neustar is a former client of mine, but I haven’t worked for them since 2011 and have no insight into the goals of their communications strategy. Yet it’s clear they are pursuing a content marketing strategy to retain an important government contract.

Neustar was created after the passage of the 1996 Telecom Act to make local number portability happen. Some people today don’t remember a time when you lost your phone number when you switched carriers, but that’s how it used to be. As part of the 1996 Act, Congress mandated a third party to handle the number database, not one of the major telecom carriers. Neustar was spun out of Lockheed Martin to make this happen.

Fast forward 15 years. Neustar has grown and diversified, but the contract to run the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) still represents a large percentage of the company’s revenue. The contract is up for review, and apparently the process isn’t going very well. The selection was originally supposed to happen last September.

Then is was pushed to this January. On January 29th, Neustar released a very cryptic press release stating that a revised proposal made last October will not be considered. The next day the stock dropped 20 percent.

As part of their response, the company sponsored The Switch, an afternoon email covering technology issues published by the Washington Post. That link brought visitors to a page on which Neustar makes the case for how well they have administered the NPAC over the past 15 years. It’s a strong story, and also includes a well done video from Lisa Hook, CEO at Neustar:

I’m sure Neustar is pursuing many tactics to maintain the NPAC contract. But clearly the company is intent on publishing content to support it’s claim to be the best company to administer the number portability contract.

How this all turns out is the subject of much speculation. The new contract period for number portability starts in July 2015. Neustar’s position as the incumbent is still strong. The government may be working to bring the price down, much as it did in late 2012 when renewing VeriSign’s .com franchise.

Whatever the eventual outcome, Neustar is smart to publish their own content promoting their successful track record and deliver it to audiences inside the Beltway.

UPDATE: Here’s the Washington Post coverage on the battle for the contract.


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