24 Feb 2016
photo of rocket launching

How to do a PR launch campaign

Ready to launch? 

When you’ve got a new product or service, you want as many people as possible to know about it. You have your marketing and advertising strategy down, but don’t underestimate the importance of a strong PR launch, too. Done properly, PR can get your product in the media, and in front of the eyes of thousands of potential customers.

While there’s a lot of work (and skill) that goes into a detailed PR campaign, there are a few things most small businesses can do to run their own, small-scale, PR launch. Keep reading to find out how.


Time is money

While it’s true that news needs to be ‘new’ to pique a journalist’s interest, always allow yourself enough time to prepare your launch campaign. There’s no bigger turn off for a journalist than picking up the phone and only receiving half the information they’d need to create a story.

Depending on the type of media you’re targeting, you may need to start planning your campaign several months ahead of launch. That’s because of the different timescales used by various media publications.

A weekly magazine may plan its content schedule up to six weeks in advance, and a monthly publication will plan several months ahead. Yes, there will be some column inches left nearer publication, but if you’re angling for a longer feature on a time-sensitive issue, it pays to be an early bird.


Be prepared 

When you think you’re ready to go live with your PR launch, make sure you have everything on hand to send out to a journalist when asked.

Though a killer press release is important, it’s not the only thing you’ll need.

If you’re trying to get media attention for a new product, ask a few of your early adopters to leave you an honest (and hopefully positive) review. If nobody has seen your product yet, it might be worth offering a free trial to relevant bloggers. Journalists are much more likely to believe your claims if they’re backed up by real life, honest opinions.

If you’re a business offering a service, ask a few of your clients if you could use them as a case study when approaching journalists. Basically, you need to be able to prove how your product or service is making a positive difference.


Know your audience 

Before you even start to write that killer press release, decide who your target audience is.

Who do you want to find out about your product? Where do they go for their sources of information? Don’t just stop at newspapers and magazines: consider blogs, TV programmes, and radio stations favoured by your audience. Think about where they might work, shop, or go in their free time – all of these could provide you with a creative opportunity for some targeted PR.

Once you’ve established your target publications – go out and buy them, or listen to their programme, or whatever. Preconceptions about the media are frequently incorrect, so it’s worth finding out what your media targets are actually like. Consider things like tone of voice, who their journalists are, article length, and any features similar to what you’re about to pitch.

Be realistic about what gets published, and admit defeat if there’s really no chance they’ll use your story. In a few month’s time, you might have a story that’s just right for them. You don’t want to damage your future relationships with journalists by hassling them about a release that’s inappropriate for their publication. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time – yours included.


What can you learn from big data?  

Big data simply means any set of information so large, it can’t be analysed through traditional methods.

If your release concerns the tech or information sectors, you probably don’t need us to tell you how pertinent this is.

Whatever sector you’re in, try to pull out some industry stats and figures that support or endorse your release. For example, use big data to illustrate context, or the problem your product is solving. Perhaps share some figures on how many people are using your service, and how it’s helping them. For example, what percentage of users signed up to save money, or to save time, etc.

The more unique your data is, the more likely a journalist is to use your use angles. Try to use statistics that haven’t received media coverage before. Even better, do your own research, and use that as the background to your news stories.


Maximise your coverage 

You could have a great press release, supported by strong case studies and really unique data – but you could still end up not getting the coverage you believe you deserve.

Like it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to do a PR launch. And this is where the need for someone with expert communications skills often comes in. When it comes to pitching your story to journalists, be very thorough. Go for a scattergun approach, and you’ll most likely miss opportunities.

When deciding on target publications, list these in order of importance. For example, which has the most readers, or is the most influential? Some publications will only take an exclusive story, so you need to approach them first, with your best news angle. If they’re not interested, then you move on to second preference. You don’t need to do this for smaller publications or bloggers, usually.

Be mindful of any previous PR activity relating to your brand. Your current PR launch campaign might be bigger and better than the media outreach you did last month, but if a national publication has recently used material from you, they’re unlikely to do so again.

You should also be aware of any professional rivalries between any of the publications you intend to target. Some will refuse a story if it’s been offered to a competitor first – purely out of professional pride!


Next stop, global coverage! 

Not quite.

But you should have enough information to start thinking about how to run your own PR launch campaign for your product. Of course, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure where to start, you can always call in a little extra help and advice.

Just as there are specialist publications with different niches, there are as many PR agencies that focus on those sectors. Don’t just sign up with the first agency or the lowest fees. Take some time to establish whether they’re the right fit for your business, and they understand what you’re trying to achieve.

And of course, keep an eye on the Luminous blog for more small business PR launch tips in the future!

PR launch