Announcing a new product can be daunting, especially for B2B tech companies whose target audience comprises more technical customers. From establishing the product's unique value proposition to reaching the right audience with the right message, there are many hurdles to overcome in a product announcement.
To start, nearly 70% of journalists spend less than a minute reading a press release. Sixty seconds is a short amount of time to hook the media on an announcement, especially in B2B tech markets where Tier 1 coverage is achieved only by those with the most compelling story and strategy to accompany their announcement. This is just one of the many challenges B2B tech companies face during a product announcement.
Too High-Tech for the Techies
The announcement of a product is an exciting, and often newsworthy, moment for a company. The problem is, reporters don’t always consider B2B tech products as newsworthy as consumer-facing products. Media outlets look to cover products with a broad appeal for their readers, but B2B tech products typically target a niche audience, narrowing the potential impact of the announcement. This more focused interest creates a barrier to placement in Tier 1 publications. Even publications like VentureBeat, a tech news source, publish content with the average consumer in mind rather than technical buyers.
Because the target audience is already smaller, a product announcement’s unique capabilities and features risk getting lost in translation because of the technical jargon used in the announcement and press materials. Reporters aim to simplify stories for their readers and will disregard a product announcement that leans heavily into deep technicalities and functions of the product.
These highly technical products aren’t typically branded as affordable solutions and often come with a steep price tag. When a significant portion of a company’s budget is on the line, potential buyers enter into a long buying cycle and investigation of suitable products. The challenge is drawing a direct line from secured media coverage to sales. A foggy connection between the two creates friction between marketing teams and executive management as the ROI of media efforts becomes unclear.
Many Moving Parts
Gaining customer quotes and partnership agreements is another challenge when preparing a product announcement and securing interviews with the media. B2B customers are less likely to offer a spokesperson for the partnership or product purchase because of strategic competitive reasons within their industry. Even when a customer does agree to participate in an announcement, it is challenging to manage approvals from all parties involved, which leads to the goalpost moving on deadlines and campaign goals.
A highly competitive and growing tech market adds another variable to the equation. With competitors attending similar industry events and connecting with targets, it can be difficult for companies to stand out. Product announcements can easily get buried by other coverage when the distribution date occurs during an important industry conference.
Leverage Media Relationships
These challenges are indicative of a traditional B2B tech product announcement. If the challenges won’t change, it’s up to your company to devise creative solutions that result in successful coverage.
Research and planning are the most important factors in crafting clear messaging that garners interest and results during a news push. A tech public relations agency can work with your company to identify which desired outlets and reporters previously covered similar product announcements. After identifying targets, a PR team will build a product-centric media list for embargoed and day-of outreach.
Strong relationships with identified reporters can make the difference between a winning or failed announcement. A targeted outreach plan and pre-pitching efforts before the announcement will ensure that reporters see the news and have enough time to cover the story along with their regular beat. Expand connections with reporters beyond seeking embargoed coverage, and nurture the relationship by sharing content and offering sources for other projects. By developing a relationship built around usefulness and support through commentary and attribution, reporters will be more inclined to cover your product.
Journalists also want first and exclusive access to report on the news. Offering exclusivity and access to key company stakeholders, executives and product designers will maximize the likelihood of coverage. This one-on-one engagement with the media creates a greater opportunity for meaningful and impactful coverage that reaches your target audience.
The Right Mix of Quantitative and Qualitative Data
If your company has recently completed or participated in any industry surveys, whitepapers or webinars, this data can drive the solution your product provides. Customers are interested in seeing tangible evidence that your product is a necessity.
Internal data is helpful in pitching efforts and developing unique angles before, while and after the announcement is live. A public relations team can work with your company to create pitches that lead with supporting evidence and expand upon the problem’s scope to acknowledge customer pain points.
Although coordinating current customers as spokespeople can be challenging, a quote about the product can provide anecdotal evidence, expanding on quantifiable data and sharing a relatable story with potential buyers. Even one quote from a customer during beta testing is valuable for inclusion in press materials. One way to secure customer participation early on is by offering them early product promotions in exchange for talking to media contacts.
Measuring Announcement Success
Announcing a B2B tech product requires careful planning, execution and follow-up strategies. And it’s important to focus on the product's impact on the end user rather than on deep technicalities. Additionally, your company must recognize that not every announcement is newsworthy, so expanding outreach efforts after an exclusive window works best to garner maximum attention.
Developing a timeline and key performance indicators will guide your PR efforts. A tech PR firm can effectively measure the success of a campaign through your company’s domain credibility on its dedicated product page and through the business pipeline: monitoring lead generation, website traffic and form submissions with Google Analytics. Working closely with reporters to link the product landing page in coverage is integral in measuring campaign impact. Remember: the primary goal of a product announcement is to generate revenue, which PR can support in an earned capacity.
Following the announcement, a PR team will also share a report of coverage tracked throughout the campaign. Coverage trackers are a great tool to measure KPIs, and they help to paint a better picture of which publications drove direct interest or general awareness about your product.
After the news quiets down, it is important to pivot to a trendjacking story that uses it as an added hook. This can help to elevate product coverage in new ways –– such as paid search and sponsored content –– and generate continued interest. With these best practices in mind, your B2B tech company can find success and achieve business objectives in its next product announcement.