The scenario is all too familiar for many CMOs. Your team has been working for months on a new product launch, creating new landing pages, spec sheets, graphics, slide decks, email campaigns and more. Journalists are lined up to learn more, and the final step is an interview with the spokesperson. The launch day has arrived, and, as news coverage emerges, your heart sinks as you realize it’s falling flat. The coverage is—dare you say it—dull.
How does this happen? Business technology can be complex, and, unfortunately, this complexity sometimes result in media interviews that sound dry and boring as the executive rattles off technical terms and specs from a product brochure, using vague marketing-speak and buzzwords to discuss the product’s impact. If this is the source material, it’s no surprise that a reporter’s coverage will fall short. Even worse, they could try to fill in the gaps by drawing incorrect conclusions or injecting commentary that misrepresents the product’s impact.
Consider the reporter’s situation: he or she is trying to write a story – not convert a product brochure into article form. Stories require a narrative, drama, tension and resolution. That is why they agreed to an interview, and that is what they’re expecting to receive from the spokesperson.
“But it’s a product announcement, not celebrity gossip,” you may think. True, however there’s some simple ways to present product announcements within the context of a story. By adding the following elements to your next media interview, you’ll provide the reporter with the building blocks they need.
Tell a story. What is the larger narrative behind how your product came to be? Was there a particular event or customer scenario that triggered the idea? What challenges did you encounter throughout development?
Give context and meaning to your facts. Where does your product fit within the overall industry? Where is it heading? Where have other vendors fallen short? How will your features impact your customers’ day-to-day realities? Even better, how will it impact their customers? Anyone can read off a list of specs. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how your product is changing the world.
Provide validation. A good reporter will bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the interview. All company spokespersons naturally think their product is awesome, so it’s important to introduce third parties to validate why your product is necessary. Some reporters might want to interview an analyst or customer separately, but to make your own interview stronger, weave in specific examples of how feedback shaped product development, and the early feedback you’ve heard from customers and industry analysts.
Paint a picture with examples and anecdotes. We discussed communicating impact, but it’s also important to consider how you communicate impact. Bring it to life by describing a scenario faced by your customers. Consider the difference between these two statements: A: This product will help doctors access information more quickly and efficiently. B: Imagine an ER doctor dashing into the operating room. The patient’s life is on the line and surgery can’t happen until the doctor reviews the patient’s records—but the records suddenly take 10 minutes to load. With our new product, this doctor can now pull up patient records in under 5 seconds, significantly decreasing the gap in life-and-death situations.
As you approach your next major product announcement, challenge your team to consider these factors and incorporate them into the launch plan. By putting these lessons into practice, I guarantee that it will transform and bring new life to your coverage.
Liz is Vice President at Idea Grove, where she works to build public relations programs that create awareness among customers, media, analysts and industry influencers. With more than a decade of experience in B2B public relations and social media, Liz works with companies in the data center, cloud, security and marketing technology industries to create consistent messaging and awareness across a wide range of print and online platforms.