Product launches are notoriously challenging. On the one hand, it’s a natural moment in time when a journalist may want to pay attention to your client. On the other hand, depending on what you’re launching, it could be self-serving and uninteresting to the world at large. Yikes. To make matters worse, of course, it’s probably taken months (if not years) to come to fruition and your client is duly excited and anticipating a huge reaction from the public.
Based on many, many product launches over the years – B2B and B2C – some more successful than others of course, here are six tried and true tips to help you along the way –
1. Get started early
Make sure you’re involved in the planning of the launch as early as possible so you can weigh in on everything from the name of the product, to the description, to the audiences, to the timing of the launch itself. Sometimes client launch teams are so heads down on their own product development, that they don’t see the forest for the trees and miss really obvious competitors, or similar product names that could be confusing or misleading. Timing is also important. Understand that there’s a season for everything and you need to make sure to leave ample time to pitch. (If it’s a holiday pitch, start outreach for print opportunities in July!). But it’s not just the time of year, but also the day of week, and time of day.
2. Tell it like it is
As important as it is to be supportive of your clients (and it is!), it is also your role to play the “critical friend” and be direct when something needs to be said. For example, be sure to let them know if you hear about another similar product in the market, or if the price point is way too high. Understanding the competitive landscape is critical in order to be successful. It will be up to you to lay the groundwork for a successful launch by doing everything you can to fix what can be fixed, prepare in advance and set expectations.
3. Do your research
Take the time to find the writers that will give your product the time of day! It’s worth investing the time, reading articles, scouring the trades, to find the right journalists without relying blindly on commercial databasesdata bases or your colleague’s list from last year. The only way to succeed is to take the time to identify and pitch the right people.
3. Seek reviews
If your product is intended for consumers, it is advisable to leave enough time to secure reviews if you think they will be positive. If not, you may have bigger problems that you’ll need to discuss with your client . Since this is the information people rely on today more than anything else before they buy, reviews can have a big impact on sales. If you are embarking on a review program, be sure to have enough product to send to writers who may want to try it and be sure you have a way to send it to them easily and inexpensively. (It’s worth noting that some journalists look for consumer reviews before they consider reviewing themselves and recommending products to their readers.) If it’s a B2B product, consumer reviews may not be as important, but user testimonials are always a good idea.
4. Tap influencers
These days it’s important to think about influencers in the context of your launch, whether they’re celebrities, content creators or analysts. Influencers have become a catch all to describe anyone who has sway over your buyers – whose opinion matters – and who have a following of their own. In the case of consumer products, if you have the budget, it’s advisable to invest in a few appropriate influencers who can put their own spin on the product and share their take with their following. If it’s a B2B product, influencers can include tech VIPs, analysts and VCs, who have the trust of the community and whose word counts.
5. Decide: embargo or exclusive?
Depending on the overall strength of your story, taking into account timing and the competitive landscape, you should give some thought to whether an embargo or an exclusive will be the best launch strategy. Do you want to offer the opportunity to one writer for a deeper, more involved story or brief a number of writers, providing advance information and access to the product, embargoed for a specific date. While an exclusive ensures one story, ideally in a more prestigious outlet, the results can sometimes seem underwhelming if your client is expecting a flood of coverage. On the other hand, a series of briefings could result in several stories but perhaps not as in-depth. This is a question for you to explore with your client.
If you have a product that needs launching, set up a meeting and see how we can help!