You’re ready to launch. Your development team has worked its magic, your distribution and pricing models are set, your shareholders and partners have bought off. All set, right?

Too often emerging and established companies leave marketing and PR considerations as the last piece of their launch puzzle. It’s easy to push these elements to the backburner until all the other key business components are in place, bringing in internal or external marketing and PR experts later on to build a plan around the product or brand.

But the most savvy companies are taking a much more sophisticated approach, bringing marketing and PR far earlier into a product or brand’s lifecycle. These companies recognize there are important business milestones that can be achieved through marketing and PR well before their product or initiative launches.

Having worked as a PR professional in the technology industry for several years, I’ve seen first-hand the value of engaging PR and marketing early on. Companies like Microsoft and Sony bring marketing and PR stakeholders to the table in the early stages of planning, engaging engineering, manufacturing, finance and other key business decision makers. These popular brands carefully craft their PR and marketing roadmaps to begin telling their stories a year (or more) before a launch. They proactively plan how to take control of their message early on and communicate to the right audiences at the right times.

Take the recent news around Sony PlayStation 4, for example. While one can argue whether the company chose the best pre-launch strategy for debuting news of their upcoming next generation video game console, Sony very clearly had a deliberate plan for sharing its news. At a press event in New York City, Sony revealed their new DualShock controller and several glimpses of gameplay, but never once did Sony show what many were most interested to see: the new game console that will launch this coming holiday. While Sony received some criticism for how they shared this news, we can be assured that this is the beginning of a measured communications strategy where we will gradually learn more details, piece by piece, as Sony attempts to keep consumers intrigued over the next 10 months.

But companies don’t need multimillion dollar PR and marketing budgets to pave the way for a launch. Our DC- and Seattle-based PR and marketing firm works with both established and emerging companies to build launch and pre-launch strategies that best align with budgets and business priorities. We recently worked with The Seattle Times on behalf of our client as part of a pre-launch effort. This story, which ran the first day of Mobile World Congress, generated significant buzz and intrigue at a critical time on the company’s path toward launch this summer. Scores of additional articles and media inquiries were generated worldwide with simply one well-timed article.

Impact of PR and marketing planning

Here are just a few key questions you should be asking when thinking about your upcoming launch:

  • What does launch success look like?
  • What are your key business milestones towards launch? How can PR and marketing best support them?
  • Prior to launch, are there key business partnerships you need to build?
  • Which influencers do you need in your corner when you launch?
  • What are your message pillars? Have they been battle-tested with key internal stakeholders?
  • What visual assets do you have to tell your story? How can you best leverage them?
  • Who are your spokespeople? Are they ready to be the face and voice of your product, brand or initiative?
  • What could go wrong? Who are your detractors? How can you get ahead of their criticism?
  • Are your social and digital channels primed and ready? How do you best leverage them as a part of your story-telling?

Every company has unique launch priorities and considerations. Regardless of their circumstances, we advise our clients to engage us early so that we can build a pre-launch and launch strategy that garners the biggest possible impact.