Former Apple executive, Jean-Louis Gassée, once said, “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you are good.” If you’re ready to release a new product, you obviously think it is good. You can pay as much as you like for the privilege of telling the market that you think it is good. The problem is that everyone knows you think it is good. That’s why advertising alone seldom works. What the market wants to know, especially in this age of online ratings and reviews, is who else thinks it’s good. That’s where PR comes in. Here are some of the key ways that PR can support your product launch.
Traditional Earned Media
The best case scenario is that a respected journalist at a publication trusted by your market will write positively about your product release. This isn’t a given, of course, nor is it easy to achieve. To increase your chances, develop a very carefully researched list of media contacts who might be interested in your market and solution. Begin to develop relationships with them well before you make your product announcement. Be sure to craft your pitch to include compelling reasons why the journalist’s audience will find your announcement of interest. This should include more than just product features and benefits, and should be tied to the larger story of what is happening in the market.
Surveys and Studies
One way to prepare the market and the media for your launch is to conduct, commission or sponsor a study or a survey that defines and validates the problem you are trying to solve. If you can get the press and potential buyers talking about the problem before you present your solution, you give yourself a better chance of capturing their attention.
In many industries there are awards for which you can submit your solution. Award submissions can often be done very early in your product’s lifecycle. Regardless of how prestigious or niche the award, they serve to build confidence in your product and reduce the fear of risk that often goes along with trying something new.
Success Stories and Case Studies
Your early customers or testers can be an excellent way to build trust in your product. You might even consider giving the product away for free or at a greatly reduced price in exchange for the opportunity to interview the customer about how it helped solve a problem or gain an advantage. The more specific they can be about the product’s impact, the better. It is a huge bonus if your customer will agree to talk to the press.
There are likely people in your space who have the trust of your audience. A kind word or a nod of approval from them can make a huge difference. Social media is an effective way to engage influencers and introduce them to your products. This should be done by identifying them and building a relationship well in advance of your product release.
When creating your release strategy, work closely with marketing to make sure that you are doing the most you can to leverage all of your owned and paid channels. They are very important, but it is your earned channel (PR) that can really give your launch momentum and secure both interest and action.