Furnace MFG: Forget MP3s. Vinyl Records Go Digital

1,000 Full Page Reads, 40,000 News Release Impressions

furnace-logo-smallFurnace MFG never spent a dime on marketing until recently.  So says Manish Naik an executive with the 13-year-old small business that employs the same number of people.  Even so, Furnace MFG is a PR case study — an example to follow — on do-it-yourself PR.

In a time where digital files like MP3s are the staple format for music and entertainment industry, vinyl records may seem dated.  Not so says Naik, whose firm hit a major milestone in mid-2009 manufacturing their 500,000th vinyl record (they are on track to hit one-million pressed records in 2009), and who notes industry estimates forecast 35% percent industry growth by the end of the year.

Furnace MFG has signed major customers to produce box-set vinyl record collections including labels that count a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack, REM, Green Day, and Toni Braxton among their artists.  In an industry haunted by piracy and declining sales, vinyl records are not only a growing industry, it’s a profitable venture and a way for both musicians and labels to earn income for their work.

An Immediate Impact, An Affordable Price

The customers Furnace MFG has worked with to date were deals sealed on personal relationships and networking according to Naik.  To foster future deals, Furnace MFG knew it needed a way get the word out and the company determined a regular public relations program was the best place to start their focused marketing efforts.

“When we did the research there seemed to be two choices:  hire a PR agency, or do it yourself,” said Naik.  “We’re a small business and we simply couldn’t afford to bring on additional headcount or hire a firm.”  Eric Astor, CEO, added, “This fits in with our business culture of doing things ourselves, testing what works, and then focusing on what works with all our energy.”

Furnace MFG decided to go it alone.  Naik added writing and sending out news releases to the list of tasks he performs as the chief operating officer for the company and began examining press release distribution services.

“We tried the free ones, but they never worked,” noted Naik. “PRWeb had an easy-to-use interface and the pricing is good – we get good distribution and reporting with the $80 package.”

Publicity Builds Publicity

He first began sending news releases through PRWeb in the summer of 2009 and Naik supplements his news release distributions over PRWeb by sending individual e-mails to a list of targeted reporters and bloggers he’s personally compiled.  The results have been respectable especially when considering this is an entirely new approach for both the company and person.

“Our releases get between 500 and 1,000 full page reads and anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 impressions,” said Naik. “Almost all of our news gets picked up by the industry blogs.”

Though Naik is satisfied with those results, he also noticed that publicity tends to snowball:  When Furnace MFG published a news release about an interesting project and the Economic Development Authority in Fairfax County published the news in the organization’s e-newsletter.  Next theWashington Post got word of the mention and contacted the company for a profile story.  In addition, Furnace MFG was later named one of four finalists for the “Virginia Small Business Success Story of the Year” by the Virginia Business Journal.   Summing it up, Naik says, “Publicity builds publicity.”

Naik has plans of expanding his efforts through social media as the company has recently started a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account and plans to experiment with the multi-media release options offered by PRWeb.  Further, the company plans to add marketing programs for the other aspects of its business including the production of high-quality finished CDs, DVDs and flash drives for music, corporate, association and education clients.

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