Product launches involve lots of moving parts, all of which have to be synchronized to deliver success. A PR team is among the most important of those parts and is tasked with generating the coverage and attention that is the oxygen of any product launch.
Having a detailed PR roadmap can lead to more and better coverage and turn up the volume on everything associated with a new launch. A lot of work needs to be done before your new product even gets near a single store shelf so let’s look at the elements of a great PR product launch strategy.
Plan your product launch PR campaign
PR has a role to play before, during, and after a product launch, with various tactics devoted to different aspects of the big debut. Let’s take them in order.
PRE-LAUNCH: Build up the tension
6 months before product launch: Establish your authority
When the big day finally comes, six months from now, visitors of all types, including media, will be crawling all over your brand history, especially your online presence.
You need to be sure that they find a reasonably solid history of activities indicating that you are a credible source of expertise and industry knowledge. This means your online newsroom, blog, social media profiles, your presence on other forums as a guest, your name showing up everywhere, and your online footprint generally.
Look at it from the media’s perspective on launch day—what are they supposed to think about a brand that is asking for attention now but has been essentially inactive over the last six months? Does that seem like something they should buy into? Also, creating a credible history of engagement lets the media know they can count on you when they need professional commentary.
Let’s also add a reminder that all of your content should be consistent in terms of communicating your value proposition as a brand. It should be easy for someone who knows nothing about you to read just a couple of posts or interviews and get what you’re all about.
5 months before product launch: Research your target audience
The next step is to properly define all the recipient groups. This will tell you where your target audience can be found, which will help you choose the best communication channels to spread information about the product.
What you should consider when doing such research:
1. Define the target market. The target audience should not be too narrow, as it may not yield the expected profit. It is also difficult to create an advertising campaign “for everyone and their mother”. Creating a list of places where your business should be present will also make it easier for you to create promotional materials.
2. Analyze what your competition is offering. Always.
3. Create a list of media outlets and journalists that are important to your business. It is important to divide the media into categories that are appropriate for them, such as general, business, and industry. This will make it easier to tailor your content to a specific media.
With Prowly, you can easily find relevant journalists and create different media lists for your product launch plan. Try it for free.
4 months before product launch: Ask for reviews
Testing is extremely important when launching new products. Depending on the company, bloggers, testers, and journalists may also participate in the excitement-building stage.
As far as company policy allows, sending them a test model of the product earlier and asking them to publish an announcement article (called a teaser), without giving away details, will help the success of the campaign, while winning the hearts of people who can test the product earlier. And, maybe some of them will decide to become ambassadors of your brand?
Remember to do your homework before you send out your mailing and check if the editors, blogs, and influencers you are contacting even publish reviews. Also, don’t forget to set the date and medium that is preferred for publication.
3 months before product launch: Tell your story
One of the most powerful techniques in PR & content marketing is storytelling. People love personal stories. They want to know that someone is behind the brand and that someone’s passion and vision have been manifested in what they are buying.
Such content allows PR to create an atmosphere of uniqueness around the brand, build its identity and provide it with engaging value. Stir their imagination and show another side of your story. Spark the discussion. Learn to talk about the journey that’s behind you and your plans for the future as if it were a memorable adventure. Because that’s what it is, right?
A product launch example to follow: IKEA has been a master of storytelling for years. They’re not about selling furniture, they help you to create the perfect home. They continue this story at every level of their operation – from the design of their products to the style of their sales, to their communication in every aspect of customer contact with the brand.
2 months before product launch: Reveal something
This is a crucial (and tricky) part of the process – getting customers to want the product before they can see it. Through a series of activities, based on discovering residual information about the product, its features, and fragments of photos, excitement is built and the desire to learn more is created.
Remember that “reveal” doesn’t mean “show everything”. Keep some mystery involved and try to create more questions with any info or visuals you share.
1 month before product launch: Put your media outreach into overdrive
Let’s say your idea is brilliant, the implementation went great and now you want to organize a press conference to tell the media about it. You have to keep one thing in mind: the editors of the most popular portals and newspapers receive up to tons of similar emails every day. Of course, each of them describes a unique and one-of-a-kind product that will revolutionize the industry.
It’s time to make sure you have every “must” media figure on your contact list. Your press release and the pitch it contains have to be sharpened to perfection. Create multiple versions of your press release to send to different types of media. At this stage, you might also want to create a media kit with relevant press materials, to make it easier for music journalists to cover your story. This will also help you control the narrative when getting publicity for your product.
A product launch example to follow: A good example is WWF’s provocative campaign, informing women’s magazine journalists about the launch of a new brand of cream called 3200, which contains tiger fat. The press release accompanying the cream first described the innovation of the product and then debunked it by explaining that 3200 was not a brand of cream, but a number of endangered tigers. The campaign proved very effective – attractive, surprising, and highly emotive content in the form of a box of cream and a message (which linked to the website, which featured a controversial film about poachers), generated a lot of interest from the media and lifestyle bloggers.
2 weeks before product launch: Increase your visibility
At this stage, brand presence in the media is an absolute must. PR activities are necessary for the phase of launching a new product (or rebranding) while building awareness and identity of a new brand and during a social campaign. Make sure your previous PR efforts are actually bringing some results, and keep distributing content in the media, social networks, and among bloggers whose audience consists of potential customers (teasers and viral videos work great here).
A dedicated website is obviously a must-have. Be sure to include information about how to place pre-orders. It is also a great platform to post a demo video or display visuals, such as a countdown timer for the day the product will be available in the market. Also, most consumers are willing to share their personal information with brands if they receive something in return, such as a discount on their first purchase.
An example to follow: Take a look at this creative campaign of a new (relatively, since the campaign is from 2013) Lexus model in the United States, which was promoted on Instagram with a hashtag (#LexusInstafilm). The brand invited two hundred of their fans (so no production costs!) to make a stop-motion video promoting the car with photos they took via the application. The video became great material for further distribution in the media and social networks – increasing its authenticity and shareability.
1 week before product launch: Use your data
If you have a database of potential customers’ email addresses, it’s worth sending them a message about the launch. You can easily create a chain of emails, with the first simply introducing the new product. The following emails can be focused on various aspects of the product or the lifestyle around it.
Once the product launch is done, an email with a “buy now” call to action, and product photos are the final step to help close the sale. Add a sense of urgency by offering discounts or limited-time offers.
PRODUCT LAUNCH DATE
When you go to market with a product, you become “public” and time is then extremely important. The media and customers will follow your activities. Taking advantage of your time in the spotlight is critical and lots of third parties are involved in keeping it white-hot. Don’t cause problems for them by failing to keep to schedules and deadlines—be ready when you say you’ll be ready.
The launch of a new product is a great opportunity to attract journalists. This is also the moment when you can initiate all kinds of special activities that can bring benefits in the future.
Press conferences allow you to go wild with your creativity while presenting your product but also to have direct contact with journalists from your industry and beyond. Most of them will have seen many such presentations before so put special emphasis on trying to impress and making your product stand out.
Stay in the spotlight
Always make sure that the communication strategy chosen is appropriate in the context of the content and to whom the messages are addressed. The job of the PR specialist is to structure the message in a way that sparks dialog and interaction so that the advertising is engaging, fun, and unique.
One of the best ways to build a lasting customer relationship is to allow your audience to contribute to your content – ask them to take photos of their products or topics and tag them with specific hashtags. This way, the message reaches everyone in our recipients’ circles.
Showcase the product
Prepare segmented communication at the beginning of the general sale of the product, depending on the profile you have collected and the customer preferences.
If you know that someone cares about technology, show how technologically efficient a new product is. For those who focus on design, send communication that draws the eye to the product’s great looks, and for those who are driven by price, show what benefits they will get by buying upfront.
Consider a way to register the products purchased—it should be easy, quick, and secure, and the registration should be done with a social account. To collect even more data, offer some incentive for registration.
AFTER THE DUST HAS SETTLED
Ask your customers (especially new ones) for their opinions. Remember that you are now investing in continuing to sell the product. It is important to ask for an opinion relatively quickly – if the customer still remembers the initial emotions associated with the new purchase and is happy to share them with others, they will feel like an expert and an advisor.
You just spend months working with your contacts and getting them to cover your launch. Some of them came through for you and helped you out by getting you media coverage. Don’t forget about them until the next time you need something. Reach out to everyone with some gratitude for their help and cooperation. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do—take every opportunity to build relationships with people that you’ll need at some point in the future.
Reassure your customers about their choice
Once new product sales are up and running, and the base of customers who have benefited from the offer is growing, it pays to be ready for the next level of communication. This is an important moment in terms of future relationships with customers and their satisfaction with the purchases they have just made. Now you need to tell them that they did the right thing when they chose your brand.
Send them tailored messages showing more content about the new product. It can be a video showing the product in daily use, it can be a new blogger review, it can be an instructional video exploring all the features and secrets of a new product step by step. The communication should include a lot of rich content, beautiful photos, and a feedback form with contact to customer service so that the customer feels safe and knows what to do if he has ab questions.
At this stage, you can also show accessories that go with the new product, as well as complementary solutions that offer additional options. You can build additional sales here.
Ready for a product launch?
The launch of a brand involves the creation of a well-thought-out plan, which, if carried out efficiently, will enable a brand to quickly find its place in the market. It is important that the new brand is innovative and generates interest. A good product is not enough in this age of high competitiveness and market saturation. A suitable narrative should be prepared for it. A unique story with which future customers can identify.
The preparation of an innovative and surprising PR launch strategy is one of the most important elements of the brand’s success. Constant activity and openness to market dynamics and their changes are crucial here. It is important to remain active, by responding to changes in customer expectations, and the inevitable emergence of “new players”.
Cover photo by Korie Cull