July 1, 2014

Your big launch is exciting, and you can’t wait for the world to hear all about your new innovation, this pet industry game-changer and a revolutionary new way to improve life with our pets.

Or, perhaps you’re not super new, but are starting to get interest from retailers and they are asking you: “So what marketing and PR are you going to be doing to drive customers into my store, and ultimately buy your product?”

Whatever the reason, it’s great that you’re thinking about PR, and how it can be effective for your business. But, before you jump in head first, ask yourself a few initial questions.

Am I 100 percent confident in my brand positioning and messaging?

Your company’s narrative must be tight, and it must prove how you are different from and better than any competitor. You should be able to deliver it on command, in an authentic, concise and memorable way.

Do I look the part?

You could win the interest of the biggest national magazine out there, but if you don’t have an image, or even better, a variety of images, that are high quality and to the specs they need for publication immediately available, you’re cut.

Opportunity missed.

It’s so important to invest in quality photography. This also goes for a live, functioning website with information on where the product can be sold.

Do I have both money and time in the bank?

If you’re enlisting the help of an agency, you will most likely need a budget of about $3,000 to $7,000 per month depending on the PR pro or firm you hire. And, just because you turn on the PR hose doesn’t mean big coverage will start tomorrow.

It can take up to two months to start seeing media placements, so plan product launches accordingly. Give yourself enough time to formulate a comprehensive strategy.

There’s also a chicken and the egg game to consider here.

On one hand, you have retailers asking what you’re doing to drive customers into their store. So, you start a PR campaign. However, if your distribution is weak, well then earning media coverage might look great and sound exciting, but if it’s not selling products because they aren’t in stores, then what’s the point?

My friend, John Cullen, principal of Bulldog Marketing & Sales, and I talk about this scenario often.

“I help my clients secure distributors, increase sales first, and then encourage PR campaigns to build brand awareness among the end consumer,” Cullen said.

PR is really one part of a bigger communications strategy, and while it’s often the most cost-effective, or seemingly exciting option, in order for it to work best, you have to be ready.

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