The Marketing 100: Pointcast Network: Jaleh Bisharat

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When Jaleh Bisharat began working as senior VP-marketing at PointCast Network in January 1996, few people had heard of Internet broadcasting.

Today, 15 months after PointCast launched its services, more than 1 million subscribers are using the interactive program that pushes targeted content from the Internet to users' desktops. And Ms. Bisharat has made sure users know what the PointCast brand represents.

The primary challenge faced in marketing PointCast, says Ms. Bisharat, was consumer education. When many Internet users initially viewed PointCast as a screen saver, the company reponded by equating the service to TV to better describe its "broadcast" capability.

"We chose television as the metaphor, and we very carefully chose terminology," says Ms. Bisharat. The network refers to content areas as "channels," to users as "viewers," and ads as "commercials." They have also maximized their PR efforts.

"We started a grass-roots, feet-on-the-street effort," says Ms. Bisharat, 38. "We knew it was a word-of-mouth product."

The marketer compiled a list of press contacts and industry analysts, and had PointCast executives, instead of PR people, explain and promote the network.

The word has spread. PointCast is now tracking the fast growing distribution of its product through specially coded software.

PointCast is now developing its first advertising campaign, from Blazing Paradigm, San Francisco.

As competitors flood the market, branding takes on more significance, Ms. Bisharat says.

"We hear repeatedly that PointCast is the Kleenex of Internet broadcasting," she says.

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