Creating a successful PR launch event

Posted by – May 16, 2012

You may have started a new business venture, dreamed up a new product or service, built a partnership and are ready to tell the world about it. If you get your public relations (PR) launch event right, it’s highly likely they will hear you.
 
PR Launch Event: 5 key principles
So how does one plan a successful PR launch? Felicity Grey, Director at The Theory Crew, provides this valuable guide that will help any business considering or embarking on a PR event how to set up for success.
 
 
There are five key principles:
1.    Planning
2.    Ideas
3.    Timing
4.    Attention to detail
5.    Adaptability
 
But before you delve in to the five principles, look at what you are launching…
 
It needs to be compelling or motivating to a larger group than you. It also needs to communicate that it is meeting market demand.
 
If it’s a business venture or a product or service, here are some questions to consider:
 
·      Is your product or service innovative?
·      When is the best time to launch, considering outside factors such as key events, sector events and media interest?
·      Is your concept interesting or will you need to formulate ideas to make it more interesting?
 
 
The difference between a product launch and a PR launch
Many business owners confuse product launches with marketing or PR launches. They aren’t the same.
 
You can launch a product in the market well before you conduct a PR launch and vice versa. Apple is renowned for using the PR machine before they launch a product and boy does it work. Queues of people clamber to purchase the latest Apple products because they know its coming. Demand has established before the product is even launched to market. However, this option often carries risk. If the product doesn’t live up to its expectations, you could suffer negative press that may far outweigh your positive marketing efforts.
  
On the flipside, many companies launch their product and their PR at the same time. They make sure the product is ready for the market, tested and available for sale before they launch. This is probably the safest option. The Harvard Business Review published a post a year ago explaining why many product launches fail, it’s a worthy read if this is your game.
  
So now you need to decide go back to your original questions and ask yourself, are you ready? Perform a SWOT Analysis to assess potential risks if you plan to launch PR prior to the product.
 
1) Planning
 
OK so you’re ready to start planning, here are some tips to help you through this phase:
 
  • Identify a clear budget taking into account the following:
         o   PR outsourcing if that’s the way you want to go.
         o   Venue
         o   Hospitality (wait staff, food and drink, etc.)
         o   Product giveaways and other marketing collateral
         o   Speakers, celebrities and any paid endorsements
         o   Graphic design and invitations
         o   Staff
 
  • Define your purpose for the launch and your target audience: the more detailed you can be here the better. You can’t be everything to everyone…well unless you’re Apple. Make sure it’s not just about you. Stating: “Come to our great product launch” is simply not enough. As with any communication, fulfill your audience’s need and make it about them. Consider why your audience will want to come and consider whether you need a consumer audience at all – you may just need media.
  • Consider key aspects that will help to create an appealing PR event: timing, locations and themes – no holes barred.
  • Perform a reccy. Make sure you visit the locations you’re considering and think about size, accessibility for your attendees and the media.
  • Prepare an invite list.
  • Organise a date and time
  • Book your venue.
  • Make sure all your marketing communications activities are pre-prepared and ready. For example, if you are launching have the website completed and ready to go live, etc.
  • Any influential people coming? It would be good if they were. Think about whom you can invite that is recognised and admired by the media and your consumer audience. Strong supporters of your business, or guest speakers are very helpful.
 
2) Ideas
 
Ideas are key to the success of your PR event. In your initial planning, think outside the square and think big. List all your ideas associated with:
 
-       How to get attention
-       How to interest media
-       Think about what’s worked here and overseas
-       What will get people talking
 
Make your event relevant and take time to research. Consider linking your launch to a newsworthy topic, check out relevant research supporting your claims or opinions. Statistics, quotes and third-party opinions will be regarded highly by journalists you intend to engage.
 
3) Timing
 
Timing goes with adaptability. Consider calling a journalist you plan to invite and ask them if there are any conflicts. If something huge is happening for your target media and consumer audience give some thought to changing your date. Don’t let all your hard work be undone because you refuse to be adaptable.
 
Consider when is the best time of day – morning, midday, evening, weekend etc for people to attend your PR event, ideally combined with the best time to showcase your business.
 
Timing is key to making sure you have the attention of your media and attendees.
 
4) Attention to detail
 
If you are not a person good with detail, assign these tasks to someone else. It’s the small things that can easily undo an event and make it fall apart. Small considerations such as printing your media release to hand out at the event to media or booking your own photographer to take photos for your own, post-event marketing are crucial. Make a list and get help if you need it.
 
5) Adaptability
 
You’ve completed your plan, assigned responsibilities and everything’s ticked off the list. On the day, if unexpected requests are made or things don’t go as planned, run with it. There’s no point sticking to your guns and failing to be adaptable. Put on your poker face and make quick, smart decisions and you should be able to keep the show on track and fix any problems that arise.
 
Planning and delivering a successful PR launch is an achievement but getting it right boils down to hard work. If you don’t have time to do it all yourself or you’re out of your comfort zone consider outsourcing some of the work.
 
But, if you’re up for the challenge, give yourself time for research and give it a good go! Best of luck.
 
 

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