Your team is pumped. The deal you’ve been working on or the product you’ve been developing is finally complete, and it’s time to tell the world. All you need now is a press release and a well-vetted media list, right? Wrong.
It’s easy to assume that because your announcement is timely and compelling, your media relations campaign will be a breeze. But the truth is you need to properly prepare, allocating enough time and resources to the campaign, to increase your odds of success.
Here are five questions you must consider before launching your PR campaign:#1 How is this announcement significant?
Answering this question can help you set expectations, both with executives and your team or agency partner, whichever will be executing press outreach. If your announcement is truly disruptive, by all means shoot for top tier business coverage. However, if the space is too niche or this initiative is an effort to play catchup with your competitors in any way, your announcement will be seen as “me too” and likely receive only minimal press coverage.
Talk to your team about which buyers will find this news most valuable. For example, if you created software that is going to make an especially important impact on the food and beverage industry, make sure you are reaching those key verticals.
The bottom line? You want to set expectations from the get-go and focus your time and energy on the media targets that make the most sense for your announcement.#2 Who are your spokespeople?
At least one c-suite or senior level executive, ideally a CEO or Chief Product Officer, should play the role of the spokesperson. Media like to speak to subject matter experts with broad knowledge and a lot of experience. They are less likely to consider marketing and sales executives as credible sources, since they have more narrow expertise and can be seen as having an agenda.
When selecting a spokesperson, consider if they have a clear position from which they can exhibit thought leadership. Also, do they need media training? A spokesperson with an existing public persona built up through past news coverage and social media is helpful, as many journalists will research them when determining whether or not to participate in an interview.
#3 Where is your proof?
It’s great news if you have a compelling story and a spokesperson who can comfortably speak to it with authority and a true perspective. Another important component of a solid pitch is third party substantiation, as media like to reference a credible source independent of your organization. Acceptable forms include:
- Government, industry or analyst reports that support your claims
- Citations from reputable media or data that speaks to the industry problem that your announcement is addressing
- Internal data from your organization that addresses results
- Data resulting from a third-party research firm
- Industry analysts, customers or partners who are willing to speak to the media
If you have the resources to do so, investing in a paid relationship with an analyst or research firm is money well spent. Industry analysts can provide guidance well before your product or partnership is complete. They also have a wealth of information about the state of the industry and competitive landscape. Commissioning original research through a third-party research firm is a quicker way to invest in data, as it can be as simple as a single question omnibus survey that helps shine light on the problem at hand.
A word of caution – if you are a new company or one that hasn’t interacted much with the media in the past, it’s possible that you’ll face the common but serious issue of lack of awareness. Simply put, reporters are less likely to write about companies they haven’t heard of. If that’s the case, it’s even more important that you have plenty of third party substantiation to validate your claims.
#4 Is your staff armed with the proper information and resources to start pitching?
Before your staff or agency partner begins reaching out to reporters, make sure they have the resources they need to accommodate press requests. Most publications are understaffed these days, and writers who are under pressure can be impatient. Going into a pitch, PR professionals should know about the spokesperson’s availability and have a press release, high resolution images and list of customer, partner and/or analyst references. Depending on the nature of the announcement and the pedigree of the publication, some press may also want technical documents or financial information.
The more organized your team is, the easier they can make it on the reporter and the more likely it is you’ll end up with press coverage.
#5 Have you allowed enough time to pre-pitch the media?
Don’t forget that your team will need at least one to two weeks to pre-pitch the media. A press release and generic email blast are simply not enough these days. A high-quality media relations campaign starts with a stellar media list comprised of recently researched journalists who are an appropriate fit for your specific B2B tech announcement. Proper press outreach should take time and involve highly tailored pitches and individual follow-up calls.
Leading up to a product launch, it’s ideal to send the product to reporters well in advance of the announcement date so they have time to review it. The goal during pre-pitching is to give select reporters a scoop so they can run their stories at the same time as the press release is distributed. That means they need ample time to participate in a demo, ask questions, complete interviews and write their articles.
By determining the significance of your announcement, setting expectations and organizing your resources, you will greatly increase the odds of your campaign’s success. Remember that media coverage is cumulative and should be a consistent and long-term effort. The steps you take to prepare for this announcement can have a direct effect on your company’s reputation and visibility in the public eye.