If you’re launching a new product or service, getting press coverage can help get you in front of your ideal customer or clients. But if you don’t have much experience of working with the media, you may be unsure where to start.
Sending a press release is an effective way of contacting journalists and bloggers. However simply saying ‘I’ve launched a new product/service’ is unlikely to catch their attention. You need to think of the story behind the launch and give them a compelling reason why they need to feature your business now.
With that in mind, here are some factors to consider when planning your PR launch.
How far in advance should you start your PR plan?
Depending on the type of publications/programmes you are targeting, you may need to start your PR plan weeks - or even months - prior to your launch. Monthly magazines tend to work 4-6 months ahead, weekly publications 1-2 weeks in advance (and sometimes longer), while online publications can work anything from a month to an hour or two in advance. This kind of information can sometimes be found on a publication/programme’s website, but it’s always worth a phone call to check. It’s far better to get in touch early - and be told to contact them again in a few weeks/months time - than miss the boat completely.
It’s a good idea to create a PR calendar noting down the deadlines for each programme/publication and when you need to have contacted them by. Including key dates and awareness day for your industry can boost your chance of coverage. For example, if you run a sleep clinic, you might decide to time your launch to coincide with Sleep Awareness Week. Likewise, you should be aware of dates to avoid when journalists’ attention may be elsewhere , such as the day of general election results.
How do you make your product or service newsworthy?
When writing a press release or pitch for a journalist, you need to think about their audience’s needs - not your own. Think about what type of stories grab your attention and whether the topic would be of interest to you if it wasn’t about your business. It is important to remember that the media’s job is not to promote your brand, but to create interesting and informative content for their audience.
One way to promote your launch is to share a personal story. For example, did you create your product or service to solve a problem you had? It is more than likely others are having the same problem and would be interested in hearing your story and solution. Human interest can make a story more relatable and engaging for readers.
For example Pinks Vintage Ice Cream Vans used a personal story in a recent press launch, sharing the story of how the owner’s husband had brought her an ice cream van as a Christmas present, which led her into a new career path. By telling this story in a press release they gained coverage on Business Quarter and Hotelier and Hotel Design.
Another effective strategy can be ‘piggybacking’ onto key news dates and awareness days - subjects that are already trending in their news (or will be when the content is published). For example, if you are launching a new flavour for your gin range, it might better to launch it During ‘National Gin Week’ when online and weekly publications will be reviewing new gins and creating shopping features. Contact journalists and bloggers ahead of time offering them the opportunity to sample your new product.
How do you get a journalist or blogger to review your product or service?
Sending a journalist or blogger a sample or offering them a free trial of your service may increase your chances of getting coverage as they will be able to try it out first hand. However, do be aware that this is no guarantee of coverage; they may decide they do not like your product enough to promote it to their readers.
Do also be aware that journalists and bloggers are sent endless samples on a daily basis. Newspapers and magazine offices are filled with unused beauty products and some food may even get thrown away. Therefore, it is always best to contact the person you wish to send it to before actually posting it. This way you can check your product is something they actually wish to receive, as well as making sure the journalist is keeping an eye out for it when it arrives.
The makers of Runners Bell - a device runners can wear on their hand, that allows them to sound a bell to alert pedestrians and other road users of their presence - sent their product to relevant publications and received a review on Oh My Quad Fitness magazine.
In addition, journalists and bloggers will often send editorial requests when looking for new products or services to review. Search the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter every day you’ll find dozens of request from journalists for national, local and industry titles who are looking for help with stories. Or you can sign up to a media enquiry service such as JournoLink, Response Source, Gorkana or Ace Media and get requests emailed to you directly from journalist. Some days you may not find anything but others you will find the perfect request for your business.
How do you get a journalist or blogger to attend your launch event?
Hosting events can be a great way to engage with both potential customers and the media. It gives you a chance to speak to them face-to-face, show them your product or service and answer any questions they may have.
When inviting journalists or bloggers you need to make it easy for them to attend. They’re often running around attending conferences and meeting deadlines, so make it an all-day event so they can pop-in at a time that suits them.
It’s also important to remove the pressure. Make it clear in the invitation email you simply want to make them aware of you and give them a chance to view the product - and won’t be bombarding them with a sales pitch.
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Written By: Camilla Holroyd, Media Relations Executive
Camilla is the all-important portal between JournoLink's businesses and journalists; connecting them on a daily basis through press releases, Twitter engagements and editorial requests.