A recent AdAge article discussed the importance of PR in brand launches – and we couldn’t agree more. In addition to what Al Ries has to say, we have some more insights about how to leverage brand PR for any kind of launch, either brand-related or product-specific.
The Heart of Brand PR: Build Awareness Via Earned Media
One way to create demand and build excitement is through a media relations push.
It’s not earth shattering: Identify the outlets your target engages with and double down on proactive pitching efforts. New product launches typically embody one of the simplest, but important, prerequisites for press – the product is new. If you can tie the product to solving a problem in the marketplace or position it as part of an emerging trend the odds of media picking up your story increases significantly.
Remember, if you target monthly publications, they’re working on issues up to six months out. Couple that with the fact that we’ve had editors tell us they will only consider a “new” product if it has been on shelf fewer than six months. Do the math. For these important editors, your only window to get their attention is pre-launch.
Once you’ve secured placements, repurpose them in sales pitches and follow-ups with retailers and distributors you’re working with. This demonstrates the product has garnered attention that will drive people to look for the item on shelves or websites.
This is what it looks like in action. LSB put a massive effort behind a PR push prior to the launch of a food product. This PR effort landed placements in The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post, along with a host of others. We then shared these brand PR placements with retailers and included them in sales decks. The business result: Secured distribution channels nationwide.
Generate Demand on Social
Brand PR extends beyond earned media, it also includes social. Because another great way to create demand pre-launch is to speak directly to your social media communities.
Teasing the launch of a new product does two things:
- It creates excitement and anticipation for the launch among brand fans.
- It gets your fans asking the all-important questions like, “When is this out and where can I get it?”
An excellent example is from one of my favorite (healthy) ice creams, Halo Top Creamery, which I eat by the pint full. Halo recently announced it was adding 10 new flavors to its previously somewhat limited line-up.
Well before stores started stocking the new flavors, the brand shared the news with its social followers. The response was instant excitement coupled with the music all brands want to hear: “When and where can I get this.”
The next time I was at the store where I usually purchase this brand, management had stuck a sign on the freezer door. The sign read “We’ll be stocking new flavors of Halo Top in the middle of November.”
Obviously, the store received enough requests that it had to make a blanket statement of “don’t worry, it’s coming.” That’s the type of pre-launch demand we all want, right?
Drive Trial through an Influencer Product Review Program
Influencers can also play a key role in your product launch.
As we’ve talked about before, influencers are a direct link to your target audience – an audience that’s hungry for, and trusts, those influencers’ advice. If you already work with some solid influencers on other products in your portfolio, consider them for a “first look” of the new product and work to secure product reviews.
If you don’t have an influencer network, now is a great time to build one. Here are some simple tips to get you started with an influencer relations program. Share these reviews on your social channels to help elevate excitement for the product launch.
The strategies and tactics outlined above highlight just some of the potential results that can define the success of a new product launch. Of course, as with any truly solid marketing effort, a one-size-fits-all method to brand PR doesn’t exist, so find out what works for your brand, your category and your fans.
We’ve got some ideas. Let us know if you want help getting started.