The following article is an extract from the latest FleishmanHillard global report: Recovery and Resurgence Communications: what tech sector pros need to do now.
Author: Paula Conhain, Senior Vice President and Partner, Corporate Reputation, San Francisco
Launching a product in a pandemic. As PR counselors, it sounds exactly like the kind of thing we’d vehemently advise clients NOT to do. But what happens when their business cannot afford to cancel? When they operate in a highly competitive category where relevance and shelf space — both online and physical — are in jeopardy if they do not introduce the next big thing?
The COVID-19 crisis hit at a time when many consumer tech companies were about to hold their spring launches, inclusive of flashy events, carefully crafted plans for reviews, influencer engagement and marketing campaigns. Those who successfully navigated the impact did so by quickly pivoting and prioritizing tone and humanity, despite the bottom line being the reason to carry forward. Winning product launch PR strategies were defined by the following tenets that are central to our work and should remain so no matter how our world evolves over the next several months — or years:
- Find relevance: No company can solve the global health crisis we are facing and any that claims to should expect to be met with swift backlash. But many have risen to the challenge of lending what they can offer to help people in specific, relevant ways, be it a focus on fitness, virtual collaboration or connectivity.
- Be flexible: In the most uncertain of times, expect the unexpected and be ready to pivot. For example, while some parts of the world are taking steps to reopen, be ready with virtual options for your next launch so you can execute no matter what.
- Always listen: Real, collaborative relationships are important to truly understand how the reporters that matter to your clients or company feel, so it can guide the evolution of your launch plan. And, going right to the source is often appreciated, so we can help reporters do their jobs easily and be respectful of what they are facing.
- Most importantly, be creative. While we struggle to stay engaged in our work while sheltering in place, so do our clients and reporters with whom we work. Virtual events have become immersive experiences in just a few short months and open up new chances to think globally. Find a unique, surprising (and safe!) way to deliver products for testing.
Product launches can be executed effectively if done thoughtfully and responsibly, if you have a legitimately relevant product, and if you prioritize making it easy for reporters.