Five PR strategies for your next product launch
Posted on: 2016-06-30
If you’re serious about getting media coverage, you need to take a much more creative approach than simply sending a press release, says journalist and PR coach Janet Murray...
If you’re launching a new product or service, you may think all you need to do is write a press release and send it out to a bunch of journalists.
But most journalists get hundreds of press releases each week - many of which get deleted, unopened. So while writing a press release is the most common strategy used to get media coverage for a launch, it’s also often the least effective.
If you’re serious about getting media coverage, you need to take a much more creative approach. With that in mind, here’s five PR strategies for your next launch.
1. Invite journalists to review your product or service
Sending out a press release (or even just an email) to journalists, inviting them to review your product or service is one strategy you can use to get media coverage.
But journalists get sent dozens of products to review, every single day of the week. And most publications and programmes plan weeks or months ahead (up to six months in the case of consumer magazines, for example). So if you’re launching some new accounting software and there happens to be a fintech roundup planned for an upcoming issue, great. If your product doesn’t fit into any of the scheduled content, however, you may not get a look in.
This is not to say you shouldn't try to secure product reviews - you absolutely should. Just be aware that it's a scattergun approach - like throwing a pack of playing cards up in the air and hoping some of them land in the right place. So don't expect a 100% hit rate (or anywhere close).
With that in mind, the more media outlets you can approach, the better. But do your research first; some publications don't even do product reviews, so sending a pitch or press release can be a complete waste of time. And don't discount bloggers, as getting reviews on popular blogs in your area of expertise can be far more effective than traditional media coverage.
Don’t forget to tailor your pitch for each media outlet you approach. Not all publications and programmes approach reviews in the same way; some prefer to get their own journalists to ‘road test’ products and write about them, others will have a list of set questions or themes, while others might want you to submit some copy.
The more you can show that you understand the publication or programme you’re pitching to, the better chance you’ll have of getting a ‘yes’.
2. Share something interesting
People love personal stories, so instead of pitching journalists about
your product, look for inspiration in the areas of your life that intersect with your business.
For example, I’ve been featured in several national and consumer publications, talking about the ‘chic shed’ I work in at the end of my garden. While none of these articles were about
my business, they gave me the opportunity to talk about it, which is still great PR.
3. Teach something
There is a growing appetite for media content that teaches people a concept or skill (otherwise known as 'how to'). For example, my student Gwen wanted to promote her children's sleep app (which is designed to help kids with their bedtime routine). Instead of trying to get journalists to write about her app, I encouraged her to pitch articles on how small businesses can develop apps (and whether it was worth the investment). She pitched - and successfully placed - an article in the Guardian on that very topic.
4. Say something interesting
Pitching opinion articles can be a clever way to get media coverage for your product. Let’s say you run a private tutoring business and you’ve written a book on how to get your child into a top university. Writing an opinion article on something that relates to the topic of your book - how a particular aspect of government policy is preventing children from working class backgrounds getting into the top universities, for example - allows you to show your expertise. And showing what you know is far more powerful than telling people.
One of my students - another app developer - successfully pitched an article to a national newspaper arguing that it's easy for women to get on in the tech industry (which is exactly the opposite of what you usually hear on the subject). In it she talks about her own experience as an app developer - providing a lovely (but subtle) opportunity to plug her own app.
5. Do something interesting
Sadly a launch alone isn't always enough to get journalists interested in covering your new product/service. Holding an unusual event to mark your launch can be a clever way round this problem. Think silent disco or tropical ice-skating (OTT but hopefully you get the picture).
Janet Murray is a journalist and PR coach. Her book: Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart (A Totally Unconventional Guide To Selling Your Story In the Media) is out on July 7.