Build your own launch : 5 steps to your own PR

So you want to launch your new site/app/product?

We recently launched our site, and while I’m not a PR person by any means, I think there are a few straightforward things people typically do wrong. Given that the site we launched was not itself our product – i think its fair to assume that anyone could get the same result.

One day, we had no website. The next day, we were at the top of Google. We had 15+ articles, 40+ pickups, and surfed 80k pageviews.  Lots of signups, emails, phone calls, etc. It was a good launch by most metrics.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how we got the word out, so thought I’d write it up here. I didn’t do anything extraordinary, just tried to connect with people on a human level and kept a tight pitch.

1. Stay press-quiet before launch – There’s a lot of talk out there about ‘stealth mode’ and  what you should or should not tell people about your company in early days. My opinion is that stealth mode is dumb. However, news needs to be new in the press, to create more temporal contrast before and after launch. If you’ve been posting your product on the blogs, facebook, and everywhere else, your launch will be less interesting. However, even if all your friends know about what you’re doing, but there hasn’t been an article — you might still be news.

2. Build real relationships – The journalists who write the news are real people! I find so many who think of getting mentioned in the press as if it were some machination of the ethers. Different publications tend to have different angles, and individual writers have their interest areas just like you do. Asking an electronics publication to cover your food review app will be just as odd and unsuccessful as asking a writer who likes to cover pop culture to write about your obscure documentary. Then again, if you take the time to understand publication and writer, and share your launch like a secret handshake — you will have more success and might even make some friends in the process.

3. Pitch a compelling story – The same launch event could be written as an interesting story, and as something boring as all hell. While it helps of course, to be working on something legitimately important, and something that has a real impact on the lives of people, and materially different from what’s already out there — we all know that isn’t always the case these days. So craft your stories using these simple rules, and then publish it as a press release. You can see an example of ours here. There’s a lot already out there about writing a press release, so I wont rehash.

I lied, I’ll rehash real quick.
1. Headline – hands down the most important for readability and SEO purposes. Keep it simple: New <Product Category>, <Company Name> Launches today, <Top Key Benefit>
2. Timing – Embargo until <launch date>. If you don’t know what that means, its a polite request not to write anything until that date. This way, you can take a week or two sharing your message, and ask everyone to write about it the same day. This isn’t rude – everyone likes knowing tomorrow’s news.
3. Problem – As simply as possible, what’s the consumer’s problem
4. Solution – As simply and to-the point (no jargon allowed) how do you solve it.
5. Testimonial – What do your customers have to say about it? (Hint: it needs to rock their socks)
6. Competition, other details or some other commentary. No one will read this deep into your release.

Try to keep the whole thing to 300 words or so.

4. Collect – On the day the article is supposed to come out, and perhaps a couple days earlier, check back in with your friends in the press. See if there are any unanswered questions, any missing visuals they want like screenshots or photographs. The easier you make your story to write, and the harder you make it to forget, the more likely that it will see ink. No apologies and no begging. There’s no news without people to make it.

5. Publicity goes both ways – Once your article comes out, why would anyone read it? If no one is going to read it, why should anyone write about you again? Getting the article is only half the job. Once it’s out, mobilize your network. Post on facebook, tweet and retweet, put it on LinkedIn, email it out. Get everyone you can to do the same. Literally. I probably made some people upset. Every time an article hit, I made sure to do my part. Journalists like the attention as much as you do. Be invested in your coverage – its the least you could do to thank them.

Launch coverage only happens once. Make the best of it.

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Neither our launch nor this post would be possible without the insight and patience of Liz Bacelar, my PR coach. You would have to be under a rock not to have heard of Decoded Fashion, so check that out and sign up.