A critical component of successfully introducing a new offering to the market is a public awareness campaign. Whether this is handled by an internal communications team or a PR agency, you only get one shot to nail a launch.
Now, what if you’re ready to launch but the timing happens to land during a global pandemic that has impacted every facet of our lives? You might be asking yourself questions like, “Will my target audience have the cash flow to purchase our product? Is the product still relevant? Can I pay my overhead? Will I cut through the headlines?”
You’re right to have pause. These questions are absolutely valid and should be considered before moving forward with any launch. For brands that are ready to move forward during these uncertain times, the challenge is ensuing your announcement makes a big splash, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t expect that you can rely on traditional methods to work here. Reporters from every beat — sports, food, and politics — have been temporarily reassigned to cover the novel coronavirus. So while it’s still important to pitch your regular targets, you might want to consider other avenues for amplifying your news. This includes paid options through ads, sponsored content, and influencer campaigns.
We typically buffer two weeks when embargo pitching news, but reporters have shared with us that their deadlines are all over the place. Make sure you give reporters enough time to take the story, complete an interview (if relevant), write the piece, and edit it — in addition to the extra work they're juggling for timely pandemic stories.
While media attention has been so focused on COVID-19 and companies that are relevant to the story, we’ve noticed companies trying to fold themselves into the narrative when it doesn’t exactly make sense. If your product isn’t actually related to the pandemic, don’t try to fluff up a story to get your 15 minutes. Reporters will see right through that.
Unfortunately, there’s also been a large number of layoffs in media due to the economic impacts of the virus, so keep in mind that those still on staff are absorbing additional work. Now more than ever, reporters want super concise pitches. Think, "what’s the story and why should they care?"
With all of this in mind, a public launch during these times can be successful, you just need to make sure your approach is strategic and thoughtful.
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