The terms "soft launch" and "hard launch" have started to make their ways back into start-up vocabulary, particularly as they pertain to PR strategy, recently.
For those that aren't familiar, a "soft launch" is when a product is made available with little to no fanfare, while a "hard launch" is when the company pulls out all of the stops to make sure everyone knows a new product has come to market. A soft launch allows the company to get feedback on the new feature or product as well as get an understanding of organic growth without putting a lot of marketing dollars behind the endeavor. With a soft launch, the company isn't trying to get much public attention or press coverage in this scenario so expectations tend to be lower. On the other hand, a hard launch usually is set in place for larger announcements and requires more marketing dollars and a stronger coordination between product, marketing and PR.
While these two types of launches mostly exist for companies from a product and marketing perspective, PR is an entirely different beast. From a PR perspective, a launch is a launch, whether it is "soft" or "hard." Once any information is publicly available, it is no longer considered news to most reporters. You can't ask a reporter to accept an embargo for information that can be found in an app store, on LinkedIn, social media channels or anywhere on the interwebs.
PR can be incredibly important to the launching of a company or product. But it shouldn't be the one and only lever pulled for launch. And your launch timing and strategy should rarely hinge on PR. Rather, companies need to look at their business objectives to determine how a launch should work for them: Are you simply looking for user growth? Are you concerned about scalability? Is your product or feature truly revolutionary?
Depending on your answers to these and other questions, your launch approach will be very different and sometimes PR may just not be the answer. And that's okay.
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.