There was a time when options for B2B tech product news were plentiful: weekly roundups, slideshows and, in some cases, a full feature with an interview and images. You could ride high on that piece of coverage for weeks! Today, for solution providers, coverage typically comes in the form of contributed content or paid opportunities. Winning media relations strategies for product launches must incorporate smarter tactics that focus on how you tell your story and who you tell it to.
And we don’t say this anecdotally. Our Look Left media Smartypants continue to craft product launch PR strategies to land clients media coverage. Opportunities. Here are some of their suggestions for making the most of new product announcements with the media.
Keep product launch storytelling front and center
Skylar Cohen, digital content specialist: “What publications and readers find most interesting may not necessarily align with what you find most interesting. Think about what you’re announcing from the perspective of a neutral third party. A new feature might be a marvel of technical wizardry in your eyes, but if it's hard to describe or only has a minor impact, it may be better to spotlight something else. Focus on what is truly useful, distinct and understandable for your target personas.”
Bryan Scanlon, principal: “Think about your product launch announcement in terms of problems to be solved. Your press release (yes, journalists still ask for them) should clearly articulate the problem and personas in need and explain how your product uniquely solves the challenge. This will improve the impact for more significant product launches and allow you to package together smaller features and updates into specific problem-related themes. The end result may be coverage in situations you may not otherwise have been able to gain traction.”
David Sprague, senior content and media strategist: “Apply the WTGAS—will they give a shit?—test to your story. Context is critical, so don’t start with the little bubble your new product lives in. Identify the larger issues the market is dealing with and create connective tissue that runs from the macro to the micro. Highlight the specific ways your product fits into the big picture, while nailing the areas that will make end users’ lives easier. Also—and we can’t stress this enough—don’t overstate your products’ importance in the market. Reporters can spot artificial chest thumping across a crowded room and will relegate your pitch to the ‘pay-no-mind’ bin.”
Pitch with strategy and empathy
Amy-Gabrielle Bartolac, media relations strategist: “Not every journalist can respond to every pitch (even tailored ones). Opening a conversation rather than pitching at a journalist can invite insights. I recently pitched a managing editor product news under embargo and asked if the outlet had a specific set of criteria for covering similar news, mentioning the goal of sending only compelling news to be cognizant of their time. The editor not only responded with feedback and took the release under embargo, but the outlet covered the news!”
William George, media specialist: “Keep your pitch sleek and streamlined. While it’s tempting to detail how exciting your new product is, every extra word works against you and dilutes your message. Show that you respect a journalist's time and domain expertise by focusing only on what’s new and why it matters. And— if relevant—include a topline statistic about the industry or problem it solves.”
Pick the product launch date wisely
Chris Poisson, senior media strategist: “Timing and research are key. Avoid a product launch around big industry events when reporters are overwhelmed, and the product can get lost in the noise. And don't assume every outlet on your media list is appropriate for every launch. Choose outlets that are the best fit and research contacts who cover your technology space. With the right timing and right reporter, you increase your chances of coverage.”
Apply consistent search optimization
Matt Raven, VP and head of digital: “Your digital team worked hard to craft an SEO strategy for the launch, so the story you tell the media should align with that strategy. You have complete control over the keywords you use in owned content like press releases and blogs, but with earned media, you’re at the mercy of how a reporter will write about the product. So everything from the pitch to the SME interview should repeatedly—but organically—incorporate your most important keywords. This will increase the likelihood that those same keywords will appear in the final edit and create third-party validation of those search terms."
Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and product coverage certainly falls into that category. Need an edge to get the coverage your company deserves? Let’s talk.