When to announce a new product to the media?

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By Danny Sullivan

This is the question facing many technology companies as they draw close to having a product reach market-readiness. And, while there isn’t a definitive answer as far as timing goes, the real question to bear in mind is, “Are we ready to support this?”

Let’s first think about timing. Waiting to spill the beans until you have secured some lead customers who are ready and willing to support your story certainly gives you a great chance to secure some quality media coverage in support of your launch. But for most companies, this kind of delay is unwelcome as it can mean lost ground on competing products, or simply a missed opportunity to hit the market early with a strong message to drive business development.

And, while I will always espouse the tremendous value that customer validation of a product has among the media, it is not this PR guy’s advice to wait either. Launching a product early can be a powerful strategy, but such a launch must be executed with a clear plan in place to support it with the additional elements of the story within a credible time frame.

A frequently committed PR mistake around a product launch goes something like this: Company X decides to announce its brand new product to the world. It conducts a successful media launch of the product and generates good immediate coverage and interest among its target media. The company then basks in the glow of the launch and says nothing more for six months.

In some cases, the six months of silence may be due to the fact that something happened in development and the product was delayed. But, in many instances, the real reason for the silence was that the product launch was the only PR initiative that had been planned, and PR then became an afterthought as so-called “more important” concerns took over. And guess what? After six months without communicating anything to the marketplace, by the time the company is ready to say something again, the entire introduction exercise needs to be performed again because everyone has forgotten what happened the first time around.

This is one of the greatest disappointments for a PR firm. To take a client through a successful launch exercise and then watch the great momentum established slowly disappear through a lack of commitment to capitalise on that initial investment.

If you are prepared to make the call to launch a product, make sure that you are also prepared to give it the support it deserves.

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