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How to inject a bit of science into your next PR launch

Posted by Joe McNamara on 3rd April 2013

We’ve probably launched more products and companies than you’ve had hot dinners. Running a successful PR launch campaign is an exact science and requires more than creativity and a massive budget. By adopting the techniques used in science experiments (think back to your school days) we can ensure we develop our PR launch plans with as much precision:

Aim

Before you even think about what your launch plans look like you need to have a clear aim. Do you just want a huge splash of brand awareness? Do you want to drive downloads of a new product or traffic to your website? Is your primary aim generating social media buzz? Prioritise your objectives before developing your brief.

Hypothesis

Like a new science experiment, you can’t completely predict what is going to happen when you run a PR campaign. However, you need to develop a clear idea in your head of what you think might happen. This includes anticipating rival launches and possible media distractions. Draw on the experience of past launches to predict the kind of results you’re likely to achieve if everything goes according to plan.

Method / apparatus

This is where you succinctly outline your approach, timeline, key targets and deliverables. In terms of apparatus, you probably won’t need any Bunsen burners (or maybe you will?!) however, it’s vital that you prepare as much as you can up front in terms of press materials, assets, spokespeople and event set up.

Obviously every ‘experiment’ is different and similarly no two launches will be the same but, like every good scientist, be sure to confirm your budgets. This will set the parameters for ‘how’ you launch the product, whether it is an all singing, all dancing media event, press tour or being creative with media materials.

If it’s the former, you’ll need to work far in advance of when you plan to announce and, if it is the latter, consider whether you just need press releases and images or are you looking into producing videos, infographics or a microsite?

Finally, no methodology is complete without including the chance for journalists to try your product so, where possible, make sure you have access to demo models.

Results

This shouldn’t be an after-thought; one of the keys to succeeding in science and PR is learning how to work backwards. What will you consider as a successful launch and how will you measure it? If it’s web traffic, tools like Google Analytics will give you a detailed breakdown of whether you’ve had traction with the right people and enough of them.

You can also use web analytics to make sure people have been driven to your landing pages by your social media campaign. Furthermore, take an audit before and after of your social media community – hopefully you’ve got a better following in terms of quantity and quality.

If you’re just looking to make a splash, traditional coverage reporting and media monitoring will tell you most of what you want to know. However, the technology industry is an increasingly competitive landscape. If you want to make sure your competitors haven’t overshadowed you, tools such as Meltwater allow you to calculate your share of voice against your rivals.

Analysis 

So, you’ve used some clever tools to measure your results, now it’s time to assess. This is where you refer back to your hypothesis and ask ‘has it worked?’ Have you achieved the results you thought you would and if not, why?

Did you encounter any problems that forced you to adapt your approach? If so, what did you do and did it have the desired effect? It’s not unheard of for a scientific experiment or PR campaign to produce far better results than originally anticipated. If that was the case, were there exceptional circumstances that may not work in your favour next time or had you just undervalued the power of your campaign?

It’s important that PR agencies and clients look at the ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ after the launch to see how to improve moving forward and what aspects were most/least successful.

Evaluation

Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you just to ask yourself; ‘what can I do better next time?’ This is more about thinking how to maintain the momentum you have gained and develop your story. Is this something you can revisit a few months down the line while you’re waiting for your next big bit of news?

Or, if you weren’t satisfied with what you achieved, how can you remedy that in the short term? Are there any tactics you didn’t employ that you feel may give your news another push? Were there issues that you hadn’t foreseen and if so what steps will you put in place to make sure you do catch them next time? Was there any media feedback/comments, which you can learn from for future methodologies.

Ultimately, there is always room for improvement and development on even the most astronomical discoveries or ground-breaking PR launch campaigns.

  • 1uella

    Love this Joe. Tweeted!