I often refer to PR as an ‘Eat Your Greens’ service. It's a business mindset…
When clients tell us they’re launching a product or service, it’s not unusual for them to excitedly divulge their plans for a launch event which will of course in their minds have the media flocking to attend.
Sadly most of the time, it doesn’t work like that. Yes maybe if you’re a well established company and you’re launching something new to the sector and have an ongoing relationship with journalists you can pull something out of the bag. Otherwise let’s talk a tad more realistically about whether you want to spend that much money and how to make it best work for you.
Firstly just to be clear, as anyone who knows me well can attest, I love a good party! I’m all for a launch event, it’s a great way to engage, connect and showcase what you’re offering amongst your customers, community, peers and industry. However appreciating the fact it’s a big expense I often discourage clients when it’s suggested as the money on a lavish event that won’t draw the media attention or results expected and only leads to disappointment.
So what can you really expect from a launch event?
We’ve done some very successful events in the food and drink and hospitality sectors in particular to launch a new venue, outlet or product where key people within the industry, friends and colleagues were invited. Whilst media attended, most key titles prefer to visit separately anyway to experience the menu and ambience so they can do what they need to do – write a review.
A less formal event is usually far more successful in showcasing the brand or company’s expertise – for example a tasting with an expert for a small number of targeted media would be far more interesting for a writer to attend.
In the fashion sector, journalists are invited to ‘press days’ to view the collections for the season ahead so they know what pieces they can include within their features. The bigger fashion houses can afford to host their own individual press days as they know they’ll attract the right titles. However smaller companies and agencies have cleverly collaborated to co-host events which provide an attractive option to time-poor journalists.
Whereas a big beauty brand will organise an event for its new range of products, smaller independent beauty products don’t have the budget. For them it’s more important to get the product in the writer’s hands to trial and review on their pages. Again, instead of an event – simply sending the products samples directly to the poor journalist who has little time to attend events can be much more effective, and won’t necessarily warrant the expense of a launch event.
It’s exciting when you’re ready to launch and certainly if you’re offering something new you want to arrive with a bang. In some cases a big launch event that screams ‘I’M HERE!’ works, but in other cases it’s best to perhaps offer a far more intimate approach tailored to the writer’s needs rather than the company’s ego.