Launching a new product or service to the market – particularly those with a renewable energy or sustainability focus – generally results in a lot of media attention but, too often, after the initial abundance of coverage comes a drought. How can you avoid this happening and how can you build a consistent media presence?
Know why the media launch worked
From our work with energy start up clients we know that one factor which affects the success of a launch event is the collaborative approach between funding and project partners; organisations like Innovate UK and the Energy Catapults. This means resources like media contacts and lists are pooled and the main media release may be issued from one of the other larger organisations involved.
Another reason why more media outlets pick up a launch release is that they are rarely about a product or service in and of themselves. Rather, they are about the technological breakthrough which has enabled the product or service to become a reality and the wider implications to a sector or industry, like this story for one of our clients linked here.
Usually a good B2B PR launch story involves one or more of the following:
- a new technology and what it means for the market
- using an existing technology in a new way
- the first, highest, fastest, longest, biggest, only ‘thing’
- a unique, challenging or incredible start up story
Also relevant is the timing of the launch story. Considerations include an announcement or update to government policy or new research in your specific area. There are negative factors to consider too – has there been a breaking story which has wiped all other news off the agenda? Or is it a national day or event like Earth Hour when journalists inboxes will already be bombarded with ‘green’ media releases?
Success for renewable or energy technology launches is a blend of collaboration, angle and timing. Keeping that magic formula every time is challenging, particularly when start ups are faced with going it alone when it comes to follow up press.
How to maintain momentum with media coverage
Without external support it can be difficult to replicate initial media success plus, it’s not news anymore – journalists now know what you’re doing, why would they cover it again? While it’s always preferable to have a strategy or plan in place to know what the first 3-6 months of comms looks like, if you’re doing this without agency support it’s likely to be reactive and ad-hoc, rather than clearly planned out.
If that’s the case then the key is to move the story on by going deeper and more specific. With emerging energy technologies, there’s usually lots of scope to focus on a specific point from a great founder’s story, to a technical deep dive into the technology which made your product possible, or a case study from a trial which has shown promising results.
We use the PESO model here which is an integrated communications model focusing on Paid, Earned, Social and Owned media. It’s flexible and gives businesses different options and opportunities to build relationships with key stakeholders. Within this framework, Earned media equates to ‘traditional’ media relations – coverage in trade publications, local and national news, broadcast, and industry blogs and podcasts. Digital PR (which focuses more on securing links in media coverage) would also fall under this banner.
Resources to help you continue your media journey
In our blog ‘How Emerging Energy Startups Can Leverage PR and Marketing’, we list some examples of how to move the story forward, especially if there isn’t yet a fully commercialised product in the market.
Owned media is also an important PR element of any energy startup, in this blog we explain how and why content marketing should be an integral part of your communication activity.
Finally, social media is still a powerful tool, especially for startups, you can respond directly to relevant journalist requests, get picked up and featured by LinkedIn editors by commenting quickly on topical issues and connect with partners, funders and supporters. We hate describing it as a ‘free tool’ because the reality is that great social media is an investment in time, research and creative ideas, but it can be worth the effort. In a recent blog we looked at the top hashtags for the energy industry across the main social channels.