We are living in consumers pampering era. There are more than 30,000 products which are launched every day. And yet, as per the Innovation Guru – Clayton Christensen – not more than 5% succeed. Working in the Public Relations, I have had the opportunity of launching dozens of products of companies – from Billion dollar revenues to startups, and what has always got me excited the passion of the team behind it. While we rallied to get the customer insight behind the messaging, identifying the most relevant media to witness the launch and prep up the team, I think it is prudent for new age businesses to devote more attention of leveraging PR when they are launching their products.
Establish the goal
Be very clear on what you expect out of the communications spends you have budgeted for the launch. I have seen many PR goals completely disoriented from the actual Business objective. Goals could be coverage, impressions on messaging, number of journalists that the founder would speak to.
Are you launching a SaaS product? Is it a new beverage? Or a new hotel brand? A new shining feature of an already existing business line? Or a completely new product line in the hardware enterprise – be sure to have product details very readily available.
Vision of the company
Product launches are the best time to reinforce the vision of the company overall. There is a reason why most of Google and Apple launches start with a passionate employee talking about the vision of the company.
The Consumer story
Nothing is more appealing to consumers and journalists than a human story. Did the founders found a unique problem during their childhood problem? Or did the company research found it while speaking to customers?
Testimonials from early/ Beta/ Alpha customers
Chances are very high that the product would have alpha and beta testers. A testimonial from them on what made them commit early to the product would evoke trust. More so, if the logo of the customer or consumer is very trustworthy – remember to take the quote of the founder or company representatives. This will help in creating the much needed first round of trust with journalists and consumers.
Video showcase of the product
Nothing helps than a compelling and interesting ad of the product. Who has not heard of Dollarshave club or amazing Kickstarter videos?
If you are an Enterprise, I would recommend setting up a microsite with all the details about the product – this will come in very handy for the journalists when they are seeking more information for the product. A nifty thing would be to give your connect details where they can reach out to you for more information.
Identifying important media for the launch. Remember, relevancy is the most important things for journalists. Do spend some time in researching the last few stories done by the respective journalists, if they are still in the same beat/ publication, etc. Ideal media list should have a mix of national and digital (depending upon the impact of the product launch), regionals and press wires. An ideal media plan would also entail study on the journalists – what have they covered in the past, their seniority and even their earlier interaction with the brand.
Define roles for founder’s and other team members
If there are more than 2 stakeholders who are part of the launch – it is absolutely essential to demarcate the go zone and No-go zone for them when interacting with the media. A founder, who is working on the product, should answer product related questions and business head, taking care of distribution, should comment on the supply side.
Press release or a press note
The press release is going to help journalists understand the importance of the press release. Remember, there could be several cuts of the press release – depending upon the media plan that you have. A national journalist would like to know how the product is going to impact the consumers at large, whereas a tech journalist is most probably going to know about the product details and technical specifications.
Remember to alert your media monitoring partners to track the news that would appear. If this is missed, the team would have to spend time scouring Google to find the links. Best time to alert the media monitoring team is 3 days before the product launch.
Pick the right day and time for the launch
Depending upon the product focus, do check in if the day of launch is coinciding when the media would be busy (like budget ) or just before a long weekend. Best would be to take the recommendation of tools or people. (Disclaimer – Wizikey provides such intelligence to the enterprise via its data solutions)
Schemes for the early adopters
A scheme wherein the first 100 or 1000 customers will be rewarded can do the trick and can really help – especially if the product is from a brand which is not already established. Schemes don’t necessarily need to be around discount – could be 1 month subscription if the early adopter shares in his social media.
Check your customer support
It amazes me that it has become a sort of trend to announce that the website broke after the launch. I would recommend, a drill to ensure customer support teams are increased to ensure customers don’t have long wait line on the phone calls.
Do a post-launch blog
Quick summary, learning and even thanking the team which went behind the product launch could be really helpful.
“Thank you” to the media
Most of the times, we forget the media and journalists who took time out in witnessing the launch. Came to the launch or did the painstaking effort to go through the literature and review. I always encourage the founder or the corporate communication head to convey thanks to the journalists. Even a thanks tweet will help. Remember, PR is all about relationships.