If a revolutionary product launches and no one’s around to hear about it, does it make a sound? In my experience, no. Unless you consider the nail biting coming from the brand director’s office a sound. That’s because great products that ultimately fail, typically do so because the marketing department and the person responsible for said department, failed first.
In a world flooded with products and services, we are constantly being bombarded with options and decisions to make. And because of that abundance of choices, a strong product alone is no longer enough to break through the clutter. Great products need great stories, and great stories come from great marketers. But, here’s the part where even the best marketers sometimes trip up: getting the word out. Stories are only effective if people hear them.
That’s where public relations (PR) comes in.
I don’t care how big your paid media budget is, a well ran PR campaign is more valuable, more believable and more effective. Here’s why, whether you or I like it or not, the media (journalists, reporters and the like) are influencers. What is reported in the news, whether on television or in your favorite blog, impacts our decision making. Socially, politically and most especially, commercially.
When Nike launches a new Jordan shoe, there is no accompanying television ad, no billboard in Times Square, in fact, there’s little by the way of traditional marketing at all. And yet on the day of most Jordan releases, you’ll find lines wrapping around the block at your local sneaker shop. How? Press coverage. Every sneaker blog in the country will have reported on the shoe’s forthcoming release for weeks leading up to launch day. Free advertising. Thank you, PR team.
In another example, outdoor brand Patagonia has famously prioritized advertising “dead last” in its business plans and yet the company’s founder is a member of the ‘three-comma-club’ with a net worth of over $1 billion. How do I know? I read it in an article by Ad Age. PR did that too.
If you want to be successful at building a brand, your brand team and your PR teams need to be attached at the hip. Best business buddies. Where one goes, the other must follow. Whether that means to a meeting or an event, lather them up with Elmer’s glue and stick them together. Because at the end of the day, your brand launches are only as strong as the number of people talking about them. Lucky for you, the next time you’re ready to unveil a new product, your PR team will make sure there are people there to hear about it.