I meet with many marketing managers and business owners who are about to launch a new product or product line, online business or service and they assume, or have often been advised, that the best way to go about the launch is to throw a fabulous party.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to a fabulous bash to celebrate just about anything, but when it comes to return on investment I always recommend slamming on the party brakes and thinking of more effective ways to communicate with stakeholders, particularly those in the media.
Journalists receive more invitations to launches than they know what to do with so the chances of them showing up at all are relatively slim. If they do honour you with their presence they will enjoy the free drink, nibbles and goody bag but chances that they will actually write or report on your exciting new venture is not all that high. This is unless of course your product/business is exceptionally newsworthy in which case they are likely to report on it without attending a party.
We find that if you use a more personal approach to target media, you will receive far greater rewards for your efforts and save precious dollars while you are at it.
Let me give you an example. WordStorm PR represents an international shoe brand that recently launched a new collection and we wanted to introduce the range to fashion journalists, whilst enforcing the key message that the shoes are ideal for maintaining healthy feet.
Instead of organising a grand party we hired out a luxury spa, branded a couple of their rooms and invited a targeted list of journalists to a one hour foot pampering session. Seventy five percent of journalists who were invited agreed to attend.
Before the session they were shown the range, while key concepts of the designs were discussed. We found out which shoes they liked the best and the day after the treatment we sent them their favourite pair.
The tailored experience was extremely effective with 60 percent calling in shoes for stories they were working on within the next two weeks and 20 percent contacting us about the shoes after this time.
I can guarantee that we would have had far less impressive results had we thrown a party and it would have cost more than triple the price.
So if you want to organise a party, be my guest (or maybe I can be yours) but be clear about your objectives. If you are doing it to have fun, as an excuse to buy a new outfit or to celebrate your achievement, go for it! If you are doing it to gain maximum media exposure, please think again.