Friday, March 9, 2012

Launching a Brand; Special Events, Media Blitzes & Integrated Campaigns By Miji Hope

For many independent professionals and entrepreneurs, the highlight of the brand building process is the LAUNCH. It is at this point that brand creators are able to see the fruition of their long, extraneous hours pay off; either in the form of launching a product, hosting a private event for a select group of supporters and potential patrons or by igniting a three-month integrated marketing campaign that utilizes online and off-line advertising, promotion and public relations efforts.

Whatever the choice to launch, it's always my driving goal to advise my clients to launch a complete and all inclusive integrated campaign that allows the brand to be launched to their targeted audience across multiple channels or touch points consistently.

Let’s begin!

I absolutely love to launch in 3s. As an entrepreneur, I have lived the life working as marketer, publicist, researcher, event planner all for my one company; where 'I wear many hats' is an understatement. Launching in 3s allows you as an independent professional with a staff of few to handle other business and life happenings while still having ample time to plan & flawlessly execute your brand's launch.

When you "launch in 3" you pick three areas or channels to launch through and to your target audience. There are a plethora of communication avenues to achieve this. Depending on how niche or not your target audience is, will tell you how best to reach them. Either way, my breakdown below will typically allow you to tailor the strategy to your specifics.

For example, in April of 2011 I was hired by the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Foundation to build a Media Campaign for his first Nashville-based celebrity charity basketball game. In order to completely launch the brand to the Nashville target audience, I created an integrated campaign in which I utilized our Media Tour to incorporate Community Relations as well as Special Events w/ Strategic Partners, all of which built the buzz for the upcoming charity basketball game. So one day for Dominique was spent doing early morning television appearances, followed by radio interviews, lunch with Strategic Partners at their place of business which was heavily patronized by our target audience (parents), after lunch visiting middle schools and high schools where the targeted audience (children) spent their days and nights spent hanging out in the city amongst city goers and sports fans who supported the launching of such a dynamic event in the city.

As you can see, my client was exhausted! Lol. But more importantly, what you can see is that the launching of the brand, which in this case was an event, was communicated via three specific touch points and required the support of an integrated effort: media relations, community outreach and special events.

When planning to launch your new product or company, a good starting point would be to use Media Relations, Paid Advertising and a Special Event to launch.

Media Relations
Beginning approximately 3months prior to launch, research the local media outlets in your market. Spend about 2-3weeks identifying about 10max Journalists at newspapers and Assignment Editors at networks. Only record the information of general media contacts or niche to your field or serving industry. [If you're launching a sports apparel company or product, it will do you no good to record the information of a tech reporter.]

Organize the contacts within a spread sheet. Once you've completed the research phase, send a short and sweet email to each contact notifying the contact of the brand launch to come. Before doing so, be sure to think of what you'd like the outcome of the communication to be. Would you like a feature story, a mention or would you like the reporter to cover your event? Be intentional in your initial communication, whichever the ideal end result.

For the first two months, send a weekly short/sweet message. 4weeks out send a professionally written Press Release bi-weekly, 2weeks out send a professionally written Media Alert/Advisory every 3-4days and 7days out switch from emails to daily morning and afternoon phone calls requesting a presence at your Special Launch Event.

There are many more ways to garner a 3rd party endorsement or publicity for a brand's launch. The above instructions at minimum, when done effectively, will result in having a media presence at your Special Event to launch your brand and even more so a follow up story (you've got to ask for it), highlighting the new product, business or owner.

Paid Advertisement

As a means to get in front of your target audience and to further support your media relations efforts, I would suggest selecting heavily targeted media outlets, print, television and/or online blogs and communities for paid placements. Using a similar 3month time line as recommended with media relations, you will want to purchase ads for at minimum 3months ahead of the launch. Contact the advertising departments and request packaged deals. When designing the ad be sure to keep in mind the lessons in the February Brand Design article and attempt to incorporate the Special Event information within it, for promotional purposes.

Special Event

There are a multitude of Special Event options that exist. From a grand opening for a bricks and mortar business where you do a 3month soft launch followed by a 3month hard/grand opening launch that invites customers into the store one evening for a special event, allowing them to celebrate with owners and employees alike, serving them refreshments and cocktails, while a jazz trio or DJ plays in the background... To a small intimate evening hosted by a local celebrity at an art gallery, where you invite who's who of your city and potential Strategic Partners, serving them a host of hors duerves and red/white wine.  *Make sure that your brand is very much seen; brand presence is KEY!*

The options are limitless!

To recap, launching a brand is often the culmination of an idea or concept, leading to planning that results into a materialized brand that deserves a proper launch. It can be exciting and tons of fun! Remember to comprehensively launch, utilizing at least 3 different avenues or touch points. Spend a minimum of three months leading up to the launch to communicate the brand to the target audience. And be sure that avenues you select to communicate the launching of the brand correlate to the messaging and design of the brand.

In the end, the launch of a brand should be felt by its targeted audience and should set the stage for a long-term relationship.
 Learn more about Miji Hope at The Premium World

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