You’ve spent months or even years developing this product – you’re obviously going to be euphoric. But how are you going to build excitement around its release?
Anyone who has been working for months getting ready for a product launch knows the stress and the fear that can run rampant. Much of this is caused by the unknown, the fear that you’re missing something that could go wrong, and completely tank your product launch.
A successful product launch can garner valuable publicity, bring in new customers and help you expand your business presence into new markets.
Your startup or product launch is the first day you will show your “baby” to the world and let the public have a hand at your stuff. A good launch can do great things to your brand and build enough momentum to cut marketing and sales expenditure drastically. Remember the lines on the day before iPhone launch? You might not get that far for your product, but you could still generate a lot of buzz without spending too much.
Product teams have the best product launches when they work according to clear goals, deliver goods on time, and understand what makes their product lovable.
There is no doubt that the product launch phase is complex and critical. But there is little more rewarding than watching a product that you’ve worked on since inception come to life in users’ hands. But achieving this result involves enormous work from cross-functional teams.
Product launches are most successful when you plan ahead for them from the start — well before your product goes to market. The trick is to get the ball rolling in the months leading up to and following the release of your new product.
Every launch should ideally have a pre-launch, launch and post-launch checklist. Here’s how to avoid the common pitfalls in introducing your product to the public.
Pre-Launch: 3 months before the event
- Set your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics and identify tools to measure pre-launch objectives.
- Develop a content calendar that highlights deliverables, themes, topics, timing, and marketing channels you will use to promote the launch and share this with your creative and content team.
- Prepare marketing material such as ads, product information and instructions, infographics, videos, testimonials, announcements, teasers, and entries for various social media platforms.
- Create a pre-launch buzz: search for and engage with key influencers such as bloggers, journalists, leaders in the business/commercial world, volunteers, activists or expert in the field.
- Update your website, social media and offline portals regularly to ensure the latest news reaches your target audience.
- Inform your launch team of key events and activities and clearly assign roles and responsibilities.
- Create, maintain and share a logistics checklist and double check a few days before the launch to ensure everything is in place.
- Create excitement through offering demos, samples, special offers, contests, or coupons. Create your own hashtag too, to create social engagement.
- Send out announcements via different channels.
- Employ extra staff and ensure they are fully informed about the new product; extra hands could be a bonus.
- Appoint several employees as media persons to answer any queries and listen and respond immediately to minimize negative feedback or consumer unhappiness.
- Employees should mingle with everyone to ensure that no outliers are left alone through engaging in meaningful conversation.
Post-Launch (3+ months)
- Use metrics to monitor launch performance and compare with initial objectives.
- Gather feedback and testimonials from customers and channel partners; analyse and develop case studies if possible.
- Track sales and monitor inventory.
- Keep the momentum going with added promotions, enhancements or more advertising.
- Update your audience by telling them how the launch went and create social proof.
- Review what you learnt from the launch and how you can improve in time for the next one.
Product launches are stressful – that’s just the nature of it. But by preparing yourself with the key areas to pay attention to, you can give your customers that magical moment when they find the thing that they didn’t know they were waiting for. And that’s when it gets exciting.
Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate(PR), CorpMedia
I had just finished a talk at a leading technology company when an engineer approached me. “I liked your ideas about personal branding, and I can see how they’d work,” he told me. “But most of them aren’t for me — I’m an introvert. Is there anything I can do?” What he didn’t realize is that (like an estimated one-third to one-half of the population) I’m one, too.
Despite the common misperception that all introverts are shy, and vice versa, they’re two very different phenomena. (Author and introversion expert Susan Cain defines shyness as “the fear of negative judgment,” while introversion is “a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”) I actually like giving talks to large groups (that day, there were 180 people in the room and another 325 watching online). I’m happy to mingle and answer questions afterward. But at a certain point, I’ve learned through experience, I have to get away and go somewhere by myself.
Conference organizers and attendees will often ask you to join them for dinner the evening before, or cocktails afterward. Rationally, it’s a win-win: they perceive more value because they get to interact with you personally, and you can make interesting business connections and learn tidbits about attendees that allow you to personalize your talk. For those good reasons, I’ll often say yes, but I’ve had to learn my limits: if I’ve been traveling too much, or had a frenzied schedule that day, or my social chops are hampered by lack of sleep, it’s far better to refuse. Like a car that requires periodic oil changes, I have to recharge with quiet, alone time.
It’s true that many of the best ways to establish your brand in the professional world are still weighted toward extroverts: taking leadership positions in professional associations, starting your own conference or networking group, or — indeed — embracing public speaking (all of which frequently entail extended social contact).
Over time, I’ve learned “when to say when” and graciously call it an evening. But for many introverts, it’s a tough balance. One executive at a large consulting firm once asked me how she could be truly authentic in her dealings with others, given how uncomfortable she was when it came to networking; she worried she’d have to put on a smiley, hypersocial façade. Yet I’m convinced it’s possible to be real about building connections and developing our personal brands, while still respecting our natural tendencies.
First, social media may actually be an area where introverts, who thrive on quiet contemplation, have an advantage. With a blog — one of the best techniques for demonstrating thought leadership — you can take your time, formulate your thoughts, and engage in real dialogue with others. Indeed, while extroverts desperate for their next fix are trading business cards at cocktail parties, you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas.
Next, with a little strategy and effort, you can become a connector one person at a time. A friend of mine used to work at a large research hospital; it was a sprawling institution with countless divisions and initiatives. She made a simple commitment: each week, she’d ask a person from a different office or department to lunch. Often, she’d meet them initially at company meetings or through project work; if the suggestion to have lunch together didn’t arise naturally, she’d tell them about her project, and they were almost always intrigued enough to join her.
Within a few months, she had begun to build a robust network inside her organization — on her own, quiet terms (Susan Cain herself told HBR that we ought to “be figuring out ways where people can kind of pick and choose their environments, and then be at their best.”) My friend’s “lunch initiative” exemplifies the research of Ronald Burt at the University of Chicago, who urges workers to “bridge structural gaps” in their organizations. In other words, you can make yourself professionally indispensable if you develop connections that enable you to break through silos, and identify and surmount knowledge gaps.
Introverts can also use subtle cues to establish their personal brand. As well-known psychologist Robert Cialdini told me during an interview for my book Reinventing You, simply placing diplomas or awards on your office walls can help reinforce your expertise to others. (Cialdini saw this powerful effect in action at an Arizona hospital he advised; exercise compliance increased 32% almost immediately after the physical therapy unit started displaying their staff’s credentials.)
Finally, use your downtime strategically. You’re likely to need more “thinking time,” as introvert and former Campbell Soup Company CEO Doug Conant advised in an HBR post. So while the extroverts may be schmoozing with colleagues after work, you can ensure you’re being productive while you recharge by reading industry journals or thinking creatively about your company and your career. (Introverts often do their best thinking on their own, as Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino suggests, rather than amidst the scrum of an office brainstorming session.)
In popular imagination, personal branding is often equated with high-octane, flesh-pressing showmanship. But there are other, sometimes better, ways you can define yourself and your reputation. Taking the time to reflect and be thoughtful about how you’d like to be seen and then living that out through your writing and your interpersonal relationships (and even your décor) is a powerful way to ensure you’re seen as the leader you are.
Guest Post by Dorie Clark for Harvard Business Review
Planners will cringe at the sight of this logistical nightmare. However the corporate and event planning industry is growing worldwide, and for PR practitioners it is almost impossible to steer clear. The job scope includes solidifying realistic objectives and budgets; choosing a venue; reviewing contracts; pleasing sponsors and participants; lodging; transportation; telecommunications; logistics and audio-visual requirements; hard and soft copy resources; and even food and beverage preferences… you get the gist. Everything seems to fall into the hands of the organisers to execute with expectations from all parties set unwaveringly at perfection.
Is there any way to pull through with all parties happy, and without pulling all your hair off its roots?
With attention to detail, patience, a smile and more than a couple of deep breaths, it can actually be a delight to put together. This past week, our team had the joy of hosting another international conference in collaboration with a longstanding client Aqua Culture Asia Pacific. Reflecting on this particular project and others, we’d like to share some pivotal pointers for your next successful conference planning:
Plan more-than-enough setup time
In planning events, there is always a race against time. With company or industry-wide conferences, there is no leeway for subpar performance. Professionalism is what they are paying for. Have an estimate of how much time you need to get everything and everyone in place. On top of that, add at least another 15-30 minutes so that you do not have a room full of workers frantically running around when the first delegate arrives. At this particular conference, we made sure we had everything set up and ready before 7.15 am when registration started at 7.30 am.
Also, always have a packing list, and keep it close to you!
Confirm and reconfirm your vendors
Average vendors serve multiple clients across different industries and purposes at any one time. It is inevitable that they have a lot to remember. Always get both written and verbal confirmation 48 hours before setup time. Email confirmations are still important as they help explicitly spell out your expectations, and also serve as evidence of your exchange.
Pre-empt and have contingency plans
What happens in case of unfavourable weather?
What happens if there is a competing event at your venue?
What happens if there is a closure of venue?
What happens if you have to cancel your event?
These are not easy to plan for, but if left to the day of the event itself, it will be a disaster! Pre-empt as many adverse situations and plot out contingency plans at least two weeks in advance to allow for good measure. Then, even if you have to cancel the event, you will have a system of information dissemination to all of your guests.
Schedule a walkthrough with your clients and team
In the course of planning, emails, orders and spreadsheets would definitely have been exchanged in communication of details between all parties. Organisers should not make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to rely on documents to paint a picture of how the event will run. Walk through the program and your vision with your clients and staff onsite whenever you can. Play out each moment and its details as though it were happening right in front of you. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
As the director, you undoubtedly know the details best and will be the one running the show. Always make sure you have a checklist ready, outlining responsibilities with clear expectations for each member of the team. With that being said, have faith in your team and don’t be afraid to delegate. Avoid the trap of running the show alone and micro-managing, no matter how small the event may be. Things are bound to happen and they work best when you have a team you trust battling alongside. Also, don’t be afraid to spend a couple of hundred more to hire additional hands. Labour shortage can actually cause bigger issues than going over budget.
Remember, your client’s success is your success. So get yourself as engaged and invested in your client’s project as you possibly can. This way, you understand where they are coming from and where they need to go in terms of achieving their conference objectives. Your job is to get them there – as smoothly as possible.
Posted by Yiwen Ng, PR Executive, Corporate Media
When launching an event for a client, it’s not a one off activity. It should be a part of an over-arching strategy. Events provide companies with opportunities to extend their reach within target markets to build relationships. However, you would first need to identify your stakeholders, key messages and have a view to build long-term relationships. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Have you ever been to an event and after a very short time wondered why you were invited in the first place? It was unimpressive and it’s unlikely you would ever attend another. This scenario is much like the corporate world when organizing a media launch. If you invite journalists to a media launch, you need to be able to answer two key questions the journalist may ask: Why should I attend? And why am I here?
To have a successful launch, there must be an intriguing strategy that will leave an impression on the journalists and engage them on an interpersonal level. There must be a compelling reason for their attendance and something that couldn’t be achieved through other means, for example, emailing information.
8 Top Tips On How To Host A Successful Media Launch
- It’s all about how you craft your message; if your message is not relevant and the event launch does not impress, it is doubtful that media coverage will be generated.
- Timing – remember journalists have busy schedules and have lives outside of the office too. Don’t make an event launch too long (more than an hour) or after hours or during key deadlines. Allow enough time for a story to be put together after the event. After hours is exclusive to social events such as film launches. Just like you, the last thing a journalist wants to do after work is – more work. So, if it is after work, make it enticing.
- The medium – If your story is relevant for television news, host your event in the morning so it can be ready for that afternoon and slotted in for the evening and night time news. If you want radio involved, why don’t you hold your event while the radio segment is airing?
- Accommodate specific journalists depending on the target market. It is important to choose the right medium for your message. Keep in mind some journalists work for publications that circulate every fortnight, monthly or quarterly so if you target the wrong journalists, your opportunity for media coverage could be outdated by the time it prints.
- There’s always time for a photo opportunity. There needs to be several photo opportunities on offer especially if you are inviting multiple journalists. The last thing they want is to walk away with exactly the same photo as their competitor. If there are no photo opportunities then its simple – no media coverage.
- The launch of an event is only the beginning of a great campaign for an organization (you don’t launch a rocket into space and discontinue to monitor its progress – how will you know where it ends up?).
- Follow up on the progress of the campaign on your website or social media platform to keep your publics updated.
- Utilize the highest quality spokesperson from your organization to send the message to the publics and ensure a scheduled time for a one-on-one interview.
Posted by Corporate Media Services, a member of The Evoke PR Network
An event is one of the best ways to promote your project and engage with stakeholders. But great events don’t just happen – they require detailed planning and skillful organization.
Living in Style International 2009
Events are a key part of many public relations (PR) campaigns. PR related events can take many forms – from product launches to fund-raising gala dinners, sporting tournaments and ground-breaking ceremonies, to press conferences and training workshops.
The success of your event depends on a combination of factors, from making the event interesting to raising awareness of the event to extending your reach to engage with your target audience. As with all planning, the devil is in the detail. While for some, planning a PR event is “no sweat,” to others it may seem a daunting task. The good news is anyone can do it! And when done right such events can shape opinion, shift perception and create a lasting impression.
So what does it take to pull off a successful event?
Believe me – it’s not rocket science! All you have to consider are the 6 basic questions of why, who, what, where, when and how, and you’re well on your way to executing the mother of all events.
Let’s check it out:
Why? Why do you need to talk to your ‘public?’ What is the real objective for staging this PR event? Is your objective important enough to justify the costs involved?
Who? Which audience are you trying to reach? You need to identify the right people who fit in with your aims. Each event is limited by space and cost – do not waste valuable resources. You need to focus on attracting the right target group to achieve your objectives.
The 2010 CMS X’mas party for clients and friends!
What? What kind of event works best? This is dependent on the profile of your audience or target group. What kind of theme or angle would best attract a specific audience?
Where? Your profile audience and theme of the event should determine the venue although the exact location can vary. A lifestyle event like a charity ball, for example may need to be in a 5-star hotel, while a press conference can be held anywhere as long as it is easily accessible to the media.
When? The best time to hold your event is an important consideration. What is the best time to draw in the audience – certainly not in the middle of the year (smack during the school holidays) or at the end of the year when everyone’s busy with year-end projects and budget planning. Make it a point to check on other events happening at the same time to avoid clashing with any industry exhibition or conference.
How? This is really about getting down to the wire – planning the event. From designing the program to directing on-site traffic, venue sourcing, food and beverage, logistics, equipment rental, photography, marketing and publicity, and coordination with principal players associated with the event (speakers, sponsors, guests, etc.) prior to and on the day of the event – these are important details you cannot afford to ignore. You need to have an organizing team in place. No matter how good you think you are – you can’t do it all alone. DELEGATE!
A pre- and post-event debrief with your team (including the venue’s hospitality team) is critical to the smooth running of the event. Prepare a checklist and go through each item. Good communication is key – make sure everyone understands what is happening and what is expected of each individual on the team. For example, greeting VIP’s, parking concerns, or dealing with special dietary concerns.
Last but not least, when it comes to the logistics, no matter how prepared you are, every venue or event will throw up its own set of problems at the last minute. Don’t fret, over time and with experience, you will learn to anticipate the unexpected and deal effectively with problems as and when they crop up. Just remember to keep a cool head and you’ll do fine!