Go-to-market timelines can be tricky and can often be influenced by any number of factors. The constantly moving parts of product development, marketing, investor demands or expectations, the overall market landscape and even the news cycle all must be properly aligned for a successful launch.
That’s how it should be anyway.
Too many times, however, we get requests for meetings from companies looking for PR support just a few days before they go to market with a product launch or company announcement. We cannot stress enough how much this handicaps your short-term PR and marketing efforts as well as your long-term goals and momentum. Hiring a PR firm at the last second to handle media relations around a launch is a less-than-ideal strategy for securing press coverage, and can often be more expensive because the PR team has a shorter window to tackle specific tasks that could have been spread out over weeks or months.
Here are a few of the pitfalls we see with shortened ramp-up times for market launches:
- The agency has no input on how communications have been crafted for maximum impact in the press.
- There is no time to review company messaging and positioning to ensure its effectiveness in the market.
- Goals are listed hastily instead of thoroughly.
- Both client and agency are just getting familiar with each other, establishing processes and reporting while at the same time trying to quickly land press. These generally aren’t things that should be happening simultaneously.
Companies preparing to go to market should hire an agency at least 90 days before they expect to launch.
The first 30 to 60 days
This timeline gives the agency time to onboard its client—and vice versa—to agree on success metrics, reporting structure and processes, establish benchmarks and goals, conduct competitive and media research and review existing company collateral.
During this window, the agency will make recommendations on potential changes to marketing materials, web copy, positioning statements, boilerplate language and other related messaging.
Days 60 through 90
In the 30 days prior to an announcement, your PR team will draft and solidify the press release, which can take up to a couple of weeks to finalize and approve. Building this time in means you won’t be scrambling to review the announcement last-minute as you and the rest of the company do all the behind-the-scenes work necessary for the launch.
Your PR firm should also work with you to determine the spokesperson for the launch, as well as any customers willing to speak to the media. He or she will undergo media training about a week prior to the announcement hitting the wire. Your agency should prepare an FAQ document and, if necessary, a media kit that can be passed out to reporters following the announcement’s go-live date.
Next, your PR firm should discuss with you the prospect of offering a product launch as an exclusive to a high-value reporter. This isn’t always necessary, but is worth a discussion to evaluate the pros and cons of giving the scoop to a top-tier publication ahead of the announcement.
Similarly, you should discuss which, if any, outlets you want to send an embargoed release to a few weeks ahead of launch. Doing so will give influential reporters a chance to conduct interviews, then file stories in conjunction with the release hitting the wire, creating a nice echochamber of news for your company and showcasing immediate momentum.
The post-announcement tail
PR doesn’t end when the first or even second wave of coverage ends. Media relations has a long tail, and can extend months past an announcement. Your PR firm should also be working with you to constantly identify new ways in which your announcement can be reframed, repurposed or retold. Together, you should always be identifying new story angles, pushing for case studies and testimonials and even submitting for awards based on the announcements you push to market.