Product launches are exciting! You’ve spent months – maybe even years – taking your product from concept to completion, and now it’s ready to share with the world. But before you hit the red button, there is one (or a few) more thing you need to do.
No product launch is complete without a solid media strategy. Here at The Silver Telegram, we’ve helped dozens of companies successfully launch their products on a variety of platforms. Read on for our top five tips to make sure your next product launch is successful.
Benjamin Franklin said “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
It’s true, especially when it comes to PR. This doesn’t just apply to the product itself but to your entire PR campaign. You’ll need to prepare some key items before you launch. Here’s what you should have ready at hand:
Company Press Kit
Targeted and launch media lists
2-3 Pitch angles (based on the audience)
Product spec sheet
Pitching ahead of a product launch is even more important. This gives you time to tweak your presentation, perfect your message and most importantly know what to expect from the media on launch day…Develop a timeline, strategy, and to-do list(s) for your product launch, and make sure everyone involved knows what needs to be done and when. Most of this goes back to project management 101. But failing to think of PR well in advance will put you at a disadvantage.
Sweating the details is good when working with the media. Ask yourself the following questions to jump-start your planning:
What do I want the media to do? – Share information about the product launch? Review a new product? or both?
How will they review the product? – Will they receive samples they keep, test it and send it back, etc?
Who do I want to connect with? What newspapers and magazines are my target customers reading? What news and commentary shows are they watching?
Which reporter from this outlet is the best fit for my pitch? Who is covering my industry or similar product lines? To figure this out you can often search your competitors on your target sites.
What information will they need to build their story and make it interesting? Aside from product specs? Can I share what makes my product newsworthy and why it is different from my competitors? Are there any analysts or customers that can speak on our behalf?
We said this in the beginning, but it bears repeating. Don’t wait until the last minute to let the media know about your product. Remember, the news cycle is daily and journalists can get up to 50 pitches a day. Timing is key to getting coverage.
When we asked when to pitch an announcement or launch, Anthony Ha from Techcrunch told us, “About a week before launch is ideal, possibly a little earlier than that.”
Pitching also includes creating a target media list. Quality over quantity is a good strategy when necessary. If you’re choosing this method, then make sure your media lists are specific and your pitches are well crafted. If you’re picking quantity, which is sometimes a better strategy (depending on the news), then make sure all your assets and resources are ready to go with simple links.
The initial pitch is just a warm-up, a starter, an amuse-bouche to the whole pitch process! Follow up with your media contacts to ensure coverage, especially when it comes to product reviews. Give them a couple of days to respond to your initial pitch, and then if you haven’t received a reply reach out again.
Some may simply want to write about the product launch while others may want to review it. Allow ample time for journalists to test your product if they do want to write a review. When a journalist agrees to review your product, follow up to ensure they receive it and check again to ask what they think of it and if they have any questions after testing it out.
When launching a review program it is good to note that it may take about 4-6 weeks for a journalist to review your product. Factor that into your timeline.
There are a number of reasons why reporters may not respond (busy, vacation, changed beats, not interested, etc.). Our rule of thumb for follow up is to follow up 3 times and then find another relevant contact at that target publication.
Track Your Progress
The only way to know you’re successful is if you track your progress. Tracking doesn’t have to be hard – a few simple spreadsheets will suffice.
Keep one spreadsheet of all your media contacts, and track who you’ve spoken to, which outlet they’re with, and whether or not they’re reviewing your product. (This will also help you track product samples if you have several out for review.) On a second spreadsheet, track your media coverage and whether each piece is positive, neutral, or negative.
You can set up Google Alerts or use tools like Social Mention for additional checks and balances and random other posts that result from your press release distribution.
Managing a product launch takes planning, precision, and follow up. But just like the development of the product itself, the PR campaign is an exciting process that is worth the attention to detail. So set up your spreadsheets, research those media lists, and start planning!
If you have PR questions or questions about this post you can email me here: Ronjini (at) Thesilvertelegram (dot) com
If you’d like to schedule a call to discuss your PR Strategy, get on my schedule here: Free PR Consult