When in your new product launch should you do PR?

Is there anyone out there that doesn’t want a plug from Oprah or Dr. Oz? In an informal survey of, uh, any client we’ve ever done business with the answer is a resounding “NO”.

That said, a national PR campaign is not always the right way to launch a new product. If you want the PR to yield real success a few things need to happen before you pull the trigger.

First off, you’ve got to secure distribution. We’re not talking promises of authorization, but rather, that your products actually made it onto the grocers’ shelves.. For a national publication to feature your product, they’ll want to know that you’re carried in at least 20-30 states (primarily on either coast).

The cycle between first release and actual PR can be many months.  Editors don’t want to be touting the next-great-thing only to hear from their readers that they can’t find it.  So, if the product in question isn’t available in a sufficient number of stores, you’ve damaged your credibility and that of the editor. That’s going to hurt the next time you try to get press with the same publication.

That said, there are a few ways around national supermarket distribution. If your product or line lends itself to on-line sales, set up a storefront on your website so that you can send your products direct to consumers in areas where supermarket distribution is spotty. This is a win-win-win for you, the editor and the consumer and can lead to increased distribution if you can create enough buzz in those target markets.

If your product is regionally distributed, but not yet national, you may be able to pull off a targeted campaign within a specific geographic area. Try bloggers or local newspapers, rather than the big national publications and save your launch story once your distribution dictates that you’re ready. And sometimes a great local case study is just what it takes to launch your product to the next level.

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