It’s easier than ever to get a PR announcement out there. And easier than ever to cock it up.
A year or two ago, I had a chunky piece of product news to announce, but no budget. No problem I thought, I’ve got all these modern comms assets to play with.
So announce it I did – big bang style – sending the news simultaneously to the website, news wires, the forum, facebook, the press office blog, Twitter etc.
I thought I’d been terribly modern and efficient, but the story got nowhere. It was summed up when the blogger relations guy called me, pretty out of sorts.
I just called up one of our key targets saying ‘I’ve got something for you’ and he told me ‘yeah, I know, I just saw it in my facebook inbox’. It’s old news isn’t it?’
Big lesson. Just because you have multiple comms routes to market doesn’t mean you should use them all at once.
Sequence matters. Think of PR as a fireworks display. You don’t set them all off at once. The impact is much greater if you build up to a crescendo.
Start with this release order and adapt from there:
- Inform internal stakeholders
Key staff and shareholders should know first – especially customer service people
- Leak to bloggers
Bloggers won’t write positive stuff if they don’t get to break it, so leak news to them and give them exclusive details/pictures.
- Tell passionate customers first
Anyone following your brand on Twitter, contributing to your forum, being a fan on facebook or subscribing to your email should be the first to officially know. These people care about your brand. Critically, you should give them material they can share – eg, embeddable videos, pictures they can link to or exclusive offers.
- Mass anounce to journalists, visitors and previous customers
This is when it’s actually public. Such is the pace of the web that this phase can follow just hours later.
- Post-launch management
Reputation/news management in the days following the announcement is an intrinsic part of the launch task. Use social tools to monitor the conversation and respond to as many positive/negative comments as you can. In the first 24 hours, the prevailing opinion on your announcement will coalesce and you want it to settle down in your favour.