How to craft product launch announcements like you’re Richard Branson
Too many marketers and business owners think of a product launch announcement as once and done. After it goes out, you want people to take action – buy something, check out your website, subscribe, or another goal. Getting the announcement ready, then, needs to consider what happens once it goes live.
Making a product launch announcement and want it to make a splash? Make sure you’re fully prepared.
Coverage types: earned, owned, and paid
The difference between owned, earned, and paid media is fairly simple:
- Paid coverage is coverage that you pay for (self-explanatory)
- Earned coverage is third party media outlets that write about you – that you don’t pay for but may work hard to get
- Owned coverage is any coverage you get from platforms you own. This includes social media or your blog (note: if you pay for social media ads, that’s paid coverage, not owned)
A good product launch announcement will ideally give you the first two – both of which you don’t have to pay for. However, you will have to invest time (and some money in the form of salaries or outsourcing) to create great announcements that will get earned and owned coverage.
Make no mistake: a good announcement takes investment. It’s just that the investment is in the creation of the announcement, not necessarily in the distribution.
A press release announcing core details of the product launch
The goal of a press release is to list out the main facts or exciting details of the announcement. The second goal is to offer some narrative or story-direction examples so that journalists, if they opt to cover you, can pull relevant facts to put their article together.
The core elements of a press release are:
- Headline with the thing you are announcing (acquisition, new product launch, expansion, etc.)
- A subtitle that hints at the importance of the announcement and offers your “one thing” that differentiates you (for example, first expansion of the company, or largest acquisition in your industry to date, etc.)
- A core paragraph that explains what you do in plain language and includes your “one sentence” (the one sentence that people can use to simply describe your company – for example, Apple’s might be “A global technology company offering sleek design and easy-to-use products”)
- Quotes from senior relevant parties expressing excitement and tying the announcement back to company vision or values (for example, both CEOs in an acquisition announcement, or the CEO + project leader for a new product announcement)
As you go about writing your press release, pay attention to your product positioning and target audience.
Typically, marketers write press releases for journalists – check out this press release template for more information. However, use language that frequently used by your target customer, as journalists will often pull information and words directly from press releases. As well, the press release will be publicly available, so you want it to be consistent for your brand and product positioning.
Putting a press release on the wire versus only on your website
When it comes to getting a product launch announcement out, you may choose to invest in business wire services. A wire service, such as Cision or Business Wire by Berkshire Hathaway, is a paid distribution method for press releases and announcements.
Using a wire service is helpful for:
- Near-guaranteed media coverage (from local outlets that pull stories from the wire)
- Creating a “Digital footprint” to show your company’s evolution or highlights
Wire services know there’s value (and in some cases are legally required), so they charge for the privilege. A single press release can cost anywhere from a few hundred to multiple thousands of dollars, so the costs can be prohibitive for small businesses or startups.
If you don’t have the budget to put a release on the wire, putting it on your website in a “Press Releases” page is another good way to get the information out.
Putting a press release on your website is helpful for:
- Additional content on your site for inquiring potential customers
- Content ownership that third parties can’t edit or remove
If you choose to use wire services, you should still put the announcement on your website under a separate “press releases” section – that way you still get the benefits of the content.
Blog post giving context on the product launch announcement
A blog post offers the more personal side to your announcement. While the press release is very focused on the what, a blog post can talk a lot more about the why.
Many CEOs will draft memos offering the more “human” side of the announcement. They will talk about the journey of the company, the people involved, and how the move is another step on the company’s path. Blog posts will typically include details considered a bit too “gushy” for a press release, which is intended to be more about the facts and the story angle.
Depending on the scale of the announcement, a blog post is not always necessary. However, it can be really helpful for something that will:
- Fundamentally change the company, like an acquisition or merger
- Significantly grow the company, like doubling in size
- Significantly impact customers, like a pivot or company evolution
Elements of a good blog post
When writing a blog post, keep these things in mind:
- Posts are typically written in the voice of the senior executive(s) in charge – most often, the CEO or founder
- They are focused on the human elements of the story – the who and the why
- Posts are intended to address any concerns that may be coming up
- They are used for morale boosting on a team if big changes are coming
- They are an opportunity to “give your side of the story” if you’re worried the announcement may be taken negatively
Make sure you write your blog post in time to go live along with the press release. You can either post this publicly or just share it privately with employees. However, be prepared for your announcement to end up public – it’s hard to guarantee privacy.
Product launch copy for marketing on social media
Social media is one of the best opportunities for owned media coverage. Different platforms that you may use have with millions, if not billions, of people who may want to engage with your content.
The key to successful social media marketing on your announcement is to craft a message that:
- Fits the platform you’re posting on
- Uses the same language of your target audience
- Sparks conversation or engagement
Fits the platform
Each social media platform has a personality or vibe. It’s important to make sure that the message you craft fits how users of the platform communicate.
- Character limits on posts
- Use of images, emojis, memes, and gifs
- Style of communication or general focus of the platform (especially relevant for niche platforms)
When you’re ready, schedule your posts. Some common social media management tools are:
Focus on your target audience
On top of having a personality, different platforms have different audiences (or, the same people will interact differently on different platforms). Paying attention to this will help you craft social messaging the stands out to your target audience.
Pay attention to:
- Words your audience uses
- Other topics your audience talks about
- How your audience likes to learn (images, videos, etc.)
Spark conversation and engagement
Social media platforms are all about community building and conversation. They took the random conversations you may have with strangers in public and put them on the internet. With that in mind, writing social copy should be about sparking conversations and engagement.
Try things like:
- Using relevant memes or gifs
- Asking questions
- Putting out a poll
- Tying your social copy into a current trending topic (be careful here – trends can go negative quickly)
Internal change messaging
In the rush to tell prospects, customers, and the media, it can be easy to forget a key group of people: employees. Even in a small company, it’s possible to not fully know what’s going on in different areas of the business.
When it comes to crafting internal change messaging for a product launch (or any announcement, really), you’ll need to:
- Craft the message
- Choose the right distribution vehicles
When crafting your message, use whatever tone or style feels comfortable for you. The content of your message should answer the following questions:
- What is happening?
- Why is this change happening?
- Who does this change impact? Who does it not impact?
- What action do people impacted need to take?
- Is support available to those impacted, if relevant?
- Are resources available to employees to assist those impacted?
Crafting your message
After you craft your message, you’ll need to choose the right distribution channels. The best internal announcements typically have two distribution methods: one verbal, one written.
- Company town hall or all-hands meeting
- Top-down communication (leader tells VPs or Managers, who then tell their teams)
- One-on-one meetings
- Company-wide email
- Post on company intranet
- Instant message (Slack, Yammer, etc.)
Email/notice to customers and prospects letting them know about the product launch
This step is especially important if your announcement will impact customers or prospects in any way. This could be a great thing – such as a new feature – or something negative like a pivot that will harm their services, but you have to tell them.
If the product launch will have a negative impact on customers or prospects due to a bigger change in the company, you can mitigate the impact by explaining why and offering support or resources (the same answers you’ll need for your internal messaging). This is also a good time to ensure you have a blog post, so you can share a link to the full post. That way, you won’t need to send an incredibly long email.
You should have the following notices ready:
- Email to all users – focused more on the announcement + high level information
- Email to any impacted users – explain what’s happening and how you will support them through the impact
Employee advocacy messaging about the launch
Whether you choose to invest in a wire announcement or just put the announcement on your website, your employees will be some of the best distribution channels you have.
The average Twitter user has over 700 followers. So even a small team of employees can have a massive impact. If you’re on your own as a solopreneur, crafting “employee advocacy messaging” will be helpful for sharing on your personal social networks, as well.
The key behind employee advocacy messaging is that it helps you take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing (getting your message out to more people because someone shares it with their social networks). Since 92% of people believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do traditional advertising, according to Nielsen, word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful way to get your message out.
How to create employee advocacy messaging
When creating employee advocacy messaging for your announcement, follow this framework:
- Focus on impact – what benefits do people get from your product launch?
- Make it social – keep the message exciting, short, and shareable on major social networks
- Customize for different platforms – Facebook is more casual, Twitter is more pointed and conversational, and LinkedIn is more professional
Once you’ve created your messaging, be sure to share it with your team as part of your internal email announcing the change.
Graphics for all content
You’ve got the words ready, now you need the images!
You’ll need different images for:
- Press release (this is most often your logo or company wordmark)
- Social media (3-5 potential images so you can re-share the same content with a different image over time)
- Email (typically a micro-infographic that has a headline or a key benefit)
- Employee advocacy (images that employees can share on their social networks)
If you’re a really small shop and don’t have in-house design, you can get free resources from Canva. Alternatively, if you’re looking for high-res images to use throughout your content, you can get royalty-free images (that allow commercial use!) on Burst by Shopify and Unsplash.
Images courtesy Unsplash