Effective PR Strategies: Timing is Everything

Aug 29, 2012 admin

A wise man/local celebrity once told me that in the public relations world, the calendar means everything. These are important words to heed as we approach what might be the most news-packed few weeks of the year in technology. Perhaps around this time of year your biggest challenges include getting Junior dressed and ready for the first days of school, but I can tell you that for a PR pro, navigating the tech news cycle over the next couple of weeks might be even trickier. Consider:

  • Today: Samsung’s Unpacked Event and Sony's IFA 2012 press event.
  • September 3: Labor Day. I’m all for counterintuitive thinking, but announcing news on Labor Day is not the best use of your time. Fire up the grill, crack a cold beer and file that press release away for another date.
  • September 5: “Motorola On Display” Event. We’ll probably learn about the new DROID RAZR phones. Any Google/DROID event is destined to garner a lot of media attention and consumer interest.
  • September 5 and 6: Nokia World. We’ll likely be introduced to the new Windows Phone - exciting news for me and the other seven Windows Phone users out there. Joking aside, these companies are heavy hitters and this event will receive a lot of media attention.
  • September 6: An Amazon press conference has been scheduled, and the prevailing industry prediction is that we’ll see new Kindles, including a larger Kindle Fire that will directly compete with the iPad.
  • September 12: The mother of all product announcements – a new iPhone. Like the other events, this is not confirmed, but in all likelihood it’s what we can expect.
  • Late September: HTC Event (New Windows Phone 8 devices) (rumored).

We’ve written here before about helping your company rise above the din, but I’d suggest that for the next couple of weeks it may be wiser to avoid the din altogether, especially if you’re in consumer tech. There will be a lot of news to report, and only a finite pool of reporters available to cover it all. The media understands this as well as anyone. Bridget Botelho, news director at TechTarget, tweeted recently:

@bridgetbotelho: A little advice to PR folks: Announce news before or after major conferences so you aren't competing with every other vendor for attention.

Your PR strategy likely will benefit from the age-old practice of picking your spots. I recommend developing a calendar that incorporates the above events, as well as any planned by those in your industry. If you’ve got your ear to the ground and learn of a competitor announcement, be sure to note that as well. With a detailed calendar you can decide where it makes the most sense to slot in announcements or proactive outreach. Calendars are also helpful in scheduling and producing content. As you can see with the big events listed above, the Labor Day week is most likely not the optimal time to announce the latest version of your product.

Also, be flexible. Don’t hesitate to change plans if unplanned circumstances arise. A couple of weeks ago I was planning a Boston event with a client when Xconomy announced their big data forum for the same date. Rather than try to draw from Xconomy’s audience or asking people attend two events in one day, we decided to move the event a few days later where the industry calendar was clear.

Some planning elements will be out of your control—a competitor announces news on the same day you do, the stock market crashes, someone important passes away. But you can maximize your visibility if you develop an effective timing strategy around PR that incorporates the upcoming news cycle. Bottom line, the calendar means everything.

Topics: Content, Product Launch, Public Relations

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