Most of the time, we tech PR pros and marcom execs are in the loop about product announcement plans so we have plenty of time to support the companies we represent. But, face it, there will be occasions when our clients and bosses ask us to stage a successful product launch in a month, or — heaven forbid — just a week or two.
Here are some guidelines for planning company product announcements for three likely introduction time frames (similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears!):
- Bare Minimum: One or two weeks ahead
- Just Right: One or two months ahead
- Simply Abundant: Up to six months ahead
Suppose a marketing exec we support decides at the last minute to make a product announcement at a trade show coming up in the next week. And she wants to pull together all the press materials necessary to make that a success.
Is it doable? Well, yes. We write a press release, of course, and distribute it from one of the wire services. Then, we activate our social-media promotion.
Depending on our relationship to a company, such activities should take as little as seven business days from start to finish. But a client must be truly motivated to provide needed details of the product announcement, crystal clear about product positioning from the get-go, and willing to speed up the approval process.
Unfortunately, there is rarely time in a bare-minimum scenario for the all-important briefings with press and analysts beforehand. You may be able to call on a member of the press that is a friend of the company and they might be able to write a story. But, we know that in one week’s time, it is highly unlikely to happen. The one-week timeframe is too short for securing any kind of external quote for the release, writing new website copy and generating any type of real buzz.
If we have more than a few weeks, and perhaps as long as one or two months to plan, we add the following tactics to a product announcement:
- Arrange telephone meetings with key market analysts and media people before the news is “officially” announced. In a one- to two-month time frame, companies have an excellent chance of arranging a respectable number of interviews with the right media and analysts.
- Prepare a set of spokesperson talking points and media training and rehearsals.
- Help the company develop more of the context behind its product announcement. (That leads to better quality content.)
- Write PR content that will help boost a company’s search engine results and increase domain authority. We write posts for company blogs as well as viewpoints that can be placed as contributed pieces in an industry trade or business publication. Or we write white papers or eBooks about the new dynamics in the market for the new “Widget Extraordinaire.”
- Prepare information for reporters such as third-party experts to provide context on the news, the ability to speak with customers of your product, and photos to accompany the story. Gathering these items takes time. In addition, reporters want advance notice of the announcement and a unique take on the story.
In this longer time frame, companies can produce high-resolution photos and diagrams of — and update website copy about — the new products and services.
Now for that maximum effort: preparing for a product announcement three-to-six months in advance.
During this time, a company can do everything from the “Just Right” timeframe. It can also:
- Gather quotes from friendly market analysts to include in press releases.
- Solicit customer references, made available as quotes — or “mini” case histories — for the news release and the company website.
- Arrange for happy customers to talk to reporters about how they use the product.
- Design a demo to help media and analysts see the product or services in action. (A video of that demo would pay dividends when shared on social media.)
Sure, companies sometimes have very good business reasons for moving quickly, but those reasons don’t give even the most experienced PR pros the time they need to produce optimal results.
Moral of Story
So what’s the moral of the story? If you have a choice, start planning for a company product announcement sooner than later.
An abundance of time allows a company to do what needs to be done before a major product announcement. Your PR people are able to develop their content PR strategy with more time. They’re able to pitch and place contributed articles. They can write your website copy and white papers. The team is able to produce great supporting multimedia. There’s also the time to arrange meetings with the correct market research analysts and editors in advance, for the best chance at securing product coverage. With a longer lead time, the team is most likely to ensure the endorsements. And, there’s enough time to put the announcement in context of what’s happening in the marketplace.
Looking for a PR Starter Kit cheat sheet guide and other tips for technology public relations? Check out www.martellpr.com.
Note: This blog was originally published on Business2Community here and has been slightly edited.