The unpredictable nature of tech launches can be incredibly challenging for communicators. From shifting launch dates, to evolving product features, and the last minute race to finish technical development, there is usually a very short runway and limited resources to develop a strategic, impactful media plan.
Adding to the challenge are the major changes facing tech publications including a more prominent focus on breaking news, and serious staff reductions. These days, in order to secure strong media coverage for a launch, it is critical to prove to journalists why your product deserves the editorial space. Below are three tips for tech communicators to prepare a launch that drives media coverage and ultimately delivers true business outcomes and ROI.
1. Align with Sales Before Creating Your PR Strategy
In a perfect world, marketing and sales teams would sit around a campfire holding hands, blissfully working together to strategize on ways to takeover the market. The unfortunate reality, however, is that public relations plans are often created and executed without any input from sales. This lack of alignment leaves communicators with no choice but to use the total number of articles they’ve secured as their only metric for success. And oftentimes, quantity of coverage does not directly correlate to sales impact.
To ensure that media outreach efforts impact the bottom line and that value can be communicated to the C-suite, it is important for PR pros to align with key stakeholders prior to launch. This means working together to define qualitative and quantitative metrics during the planning phase. For example, one feature story or product review in a trade publication may have more impact on sales than 50 placements in publications that customers don’t read.
2. Create A Strong Product Launch Toolkit – Regardless of Your Marketing Budget
Come launch time, many public relations professionals finds themselves armed only with a press release and a prayer. Unfortunately, this is generally not enough to garner strong media interest. Communicators must prepare a suite of supporting materials prior to press outreach.
To ensure that you’re ready to reach out to press, your launch preparation toolkit should include:
- Product Demo: This can be as simple as a power point or as complex as an interactive web experience.
- Proof Points: Create a one-sheet that showcases why your product is different, and how it directly solves challenges your target audience faces.
- Supporting Data: Use third party or proprietary data to showcase why your product is critical and how it fits into industry trends.
- Case Study: A short case study or beta results show your product in action. Remember though, that it is absolutely critical to name the customer - blind case studies don’t generate press interest.
- Customer Testimonial/Analyst Quote: Reporters often want real world use cases to tell a story. A customer or analyst quote can help a reporter understand how your product works in the wild.
- Blog/Social Media Posts: Creating a repository of social media content across on several topics (e.g. the product itself, an industry outlook, a Q&A with the product developer or customer etc) can bolster media relations efforts by diversifying pitchable content while driving traffic to your website.
When it’s time to pitch the media, customize your launch toolkit and offerings based on individual reporters’ areas of interest. For example, a trade reporter that does product reviews will want to see your demo while a business reporter will be interested in proof points on industry trends.
Use Embargoes and Exclusives to Hook Key Reporters
Far too often, reporters aren’t given enough compelling information about a product to pique their interest. To get an edge, communicators should use embargoes and exclusives, thoughtful product demos, highly customized pitches and ties to hot topics and trends. Media spokespeople must also be prepared to talk revenue, availability and pricing – it’s virtually impossible to get top tier tech coverage without it.
Finally, a pro-tip on exclusives: reporters need time – at least three to seven days’ notice on an exclusive is ideal. Factor in more time if you’re seeking in-depth, feature coverage.
Even though you are pitching a product in order to boost visibility to drive sales, you’re working with the media to tell a story. Showing reporters why your product is innovative, different and valuable by using all of the tools and resources available to you will help you secure high-quality, impactful launch coverage.
Katie Creaser is senior vice president at Affect a public relations agency in NYC that specializes in B2B technology, healthcare and professional services. She provides counsel to technology and healthcare clients that are looking to bring PR and social media into their communications program as part of a thoughtful, holistic strategy. Follow her on Twitter or on LinkedIn.