Product releases have put a bad taste in the mouths of PR execs, especially now when there is so much product noise that tech brands are putting out. Communications and marketing teams are under extreme pressure to generate buzz about a new upgrade, line of service or add-on, even if the news itself is not very exciting. Far too often, tech brands quickly put together a vague, poorly written product release “on the wire” when the product is “ready and available” hoping for good press pickup and in the end, get disappointed by lack coverage and overall awareness.
With so many outlets to consider, be they owned, earned or paid media channels, product releases can generate buzz if launched the right way. Here are four ways to improve the next product launch, even if it’s not very exciting.
1. Consider how the news benefits the user or customer.
This is how Amazon approaches its press releases. The tech giant first identifies the top 1-2 most important benefits that the new upgrade or service brings to customers and lets this messaging drive the content for the press release and overall strategy.
Instead of following guidelines or a template press release, think about the value this brings to target markets. In fact, why not send a final release draft or marketing content over to a few customers and ask for feedback?
We also suggest taking the inverted pyramid approach and craft the headline first by thinking about how this upgrade or new product will improve business operability or grow revenue for existing or prospective users. Consider why your target market should choose you over a competitor. The answers to these questions will become the workings of a solid headline. Also, think about other assets that would be helpful for customers, such as 3-4 bullets that speak to the product usability, a CTA for a demo or product photos. After all, the whole point of this is to get the word out to customers and partners. Why not start with the press release?
2. Be straightforward and specific, avoid jargon.
It may sound like a basic step, yet we’ve seen many tech co’s put out a product release that incorporates cyber security or blockchain lingo and still lack clarity in what exactly the product or service does, what it is or how it’s different from others on the market.
In today’s highly saturated world of technology, a product release (and press pitch) full of the latest buzzwords will likely get deleted by the journalist before they even finish reading. A release that uses words like “game-changing” but doesn’t exactly explain how the new upgrade, features, add-on or new product operates, will cause confusion among audiences. Worse, this can actually hurt brand reputation. (Here’s a list of top tech jargon to avoid if at all possible.)
In early October, Oracle announced its blockchain service. While the platform itself wasn’t generally available until the end of the year, the company’s announcement generated interest from Fortune and Business Insider. In addition to a solid press strategy, the release had clear, bulleted information about what the service does and how customers can use it. This content brought the solution to life and tied it directly to an industry trend.
So instead of adding in tech phrases, first be clear in what kind of product is being addressed. This could be in the form of bullets, it could include product photos. Even if the product won’t be available for months, product teams must be very specific and clear in what journalist (and customers of course!) can expect.
3. Use a customer or beta customer.
Technology is complicated enough to explain in a one-page release. Getting attention from stakeholders about a new upgrade or complex solution proves difficult within a crowded technology market. Cut through the tech clutter and bring an announcement to life by incorporating a use case or existing customer/beta user into the news. How did they use your solution? What benefits did they experience? How were they able to improve their business or department? Be as specific as possible, because this success story will resonate with users and potential buyers.
Journalists also LOVE customer examples, especially if the customer is in a unique industry or has a different way of using the solution. Work closely with product developers to incorporate a beta tester or existing customer into the development pipeline, and make sure that this user is willing to speak with press.
4. Take a comprehensive approach to the product launch.
For marketers, this sounds like an obvious step, but the larger the tech brand, the bigger the chances of the marketing, digital marketing, event management, PR and product teams working in silo. When thinking through the next product launch, be sure to not only write a strong press release with a strong customer example, but also ensure launches are timed across the marketing pipeline - involve the social and web teams on content and product visuals, the product teams on live demos and internal communications to ensure seamless message consistency to existing employees, customers and partners.
Some questions to consider are: Are you running paid social campaigns with the launch? Does it make sense to run paid advertising in tandem with the news? How are the rest of the teams positioning the product news? Having each of these pieces closely tied together is essential to success.
As PR savvy pros, we also recommend thinking through the timing of your launch. Does it fall on a major holiday, tech event or bigger tech announcement (i.e. Apple announcing its latest iPhone X) that would compete with the launch. Are there any company or industry events that will strengthen the news and make it more relevant? Ensuring all the tools in the PR toolbox are being utilized will secure success in your next product announcement.
To all of our PR and marketing friends: Fear not - there is light at the end of the dark and clouded product announcement tunnel. By developing a strong assets and working closely with product developers and marketing teams well before the big day, PR and marketing teams can indeed make launches more successful and, ultimately, grow revenue.