Everyone is excited when a brand prepares to come out of stealth mode, until someone asks how to launch the startup. It takes months and sometimes years of preparation before a public launch, and there’s nothing
scarier more thrilling than pressing send on that press release, email blast or LinkedIn post and unveiling to the world what you’ve been working on.
A launch announcement is one of the first best opportunities a brand has to generate buzz. Achieve success through media relations, social media, email marketing, event attendance, advertising and other marcomm tactics. But to do it right and make the most of the opportunity, it’s best to prepare by checking off the following boxes on your way to the launchpad:
Finalize (for now) your messaging.
Corporate messaging is never really final, but each company should be in a position to go on the record sharing its ethos and business purpose by launch. Don’t overthink this! Sometimes the most simple and direct messaging is the most efficient. Acknowledge to yourself, your colleagues and partners early on that things will change. But every must align initially on how they want to present the brand in the public eye.
Determine your audience(s).
One key topic that may not change right away is the audience you want to reach. Who is it? Where do they get their news from? What influences their thinking? What social media platforms are they on? Your aforementioned messaging benefits from having a target, and having a target enables you to test out your marcomm chops and gauge market feedback. When coming out of stealth, you should also consider which segments of your audience you want to reach and how. Always keep in mind that messaging/storytelling to prospective customers will likely differ from that aimed at investors or industry partners.
Make sure your website is ready (and populates well in Search).
As the saying goes, you only have one opportunity to make a good impression. This may not be true all the time of course, but any newly launched brand benefits from having its website and search results appear professional. Make sure your website is indexed properly with no coding in the search engine’s meta description. Double check that all subpages populate and reflect accurately upon your brand.
Your website should be as user-friendly as possible, and completely current with messaging and audience targeting. It should also be functional from a site traffic and submissions/data capture standpoint. New business, customers and partnerships can come out of nowhere! If a user messages you through your website, make sure you know where that email is going…
…make sure your team is coordinated.
Relevant to the last point, make sure your team knows what’s going on when you launch. As noted, you must know to whom email inquiries, submission forms and media inquiries are sent. Employees don’t like to be surprised and are often a brand’s greatest ambassadors, so instead of dropping the news on them – engage them and empower them to share the launch news themselves. As you will see below, activating them using social media can be a critical new word-of-mouth tool.
Update social channels and content platforms.
One of the best ways to create buzz on launch day is to have a basic social media strategy in place. Make sure the news of the launch is posted on LinkedIn (most important), especially as the release and media coverage go live. Facebook and Instagram have potential too, although that’s often industry and visual dependent.
For social, especially for LinkedIn, remember to tag founding colleagues and principles, use photos or video (bonus points for teams wearing branded content jumping together in unison), and optimize with the right hashtags. For Twitter, don’t forget to listen! Monitor for daily mentions of your company name and brand. You’ll be surprised who tweets about you, especially when it’s someone ripe for engagement.
Tie your launch to something newsworthy.
The best way to launch and make news is to have news. Examples of newsworthy items to share in a launch release span capital raises (including seed rounds), executive leadership, new customers, projects, capital deployment, technology unveilings, and more. The bigger the news you have, the more likely you’ll receiving significant business or financial media coverage on day one. Companies launch every day, making the ones that both launch and announce a significant milestone more attractive to journalists.
Give reporters a head start.
I use any excuse to talk about FischTank’s embargo vs. exclusive strategy, mostly because it works. Any brand coming out of stealth mode stands a better chance at coverage if they reach out to journalists first and give them a head start. No, you don’t need to hire a PR firm to do this (but it does help) if you take the time to identify reporters and readers/viewers who your story may resonate with. For example, if you’re launching an emerging B2B tech company, look at TechCrunch, Forbes, Business Insider, WIRED and other media outlets with journalists who cover your beat. Reach out 2-4 weeks pre-launch, and ask if you can share your release “under embargo.”
Sweat the small stuff.
If you know how to launch a startup, you live in the details. A bulleted list of “small stuff” that can have major implications:
- Ask a few friends to examine your website and look for errors
- Make sure your website can withstand reasonable site traffic
- Don’t announce your news on a Friday. Aim for Tuesday – Thursday morning
- Keep your schedule clear the day you launch, and don’t go on vacation that week or the following
- Have professional headshots taken
- Do a few practice interviews
- Make sure your website can withstand reasonable site traffic
- Post on LinkedIn when your news breaks
- Be thinking about your next announcement
Engage and enjoy!
If you’re wondering how to launch a startup, start with your own passion. You only launch once, so make the most of it and have some fun. It’s a cool feeling to log onto LinkedIn and see your network engage via dozens or hundreds of likes and comments. You just may receive some emails and messages exploring partnerships or sales opportunities. When done right, launches can be a catalyst for significant, meaningful business results. Good luck and enjoy! But…
…keep it coming.
For some, particularly those raising money, there’s a misconception that a media relations launch is enough to achieve immediate business and capital needs goals. This is rarely the case. A public launch should be the first major step in achieving business growth objectives, forming the foundation of your brand and its reputation. Plan your next several announcements and/or media campaigns so you aren’t caught stagnant and have a continued story to tell. Executing on them will help your company achieve long-term goals, and certainly build upon your public brand.
Wondering how to launch a startup?
If you’re a brand looking to come out of stealth mode, please give FischTank PR a shout at [email protected]. Our team has worked through the process many times, sharing and executing upon these invaluable insights to generate results that propel our clients forward.