Launching in Lockdown 3.0


2020 hit consumer technology launches hard.

We saw Mobile World Congress cancelled as lockdown took hold. IFA was next, although the resolve of the Germans meant it did go ahead in a much-reduced format. The PlayStation 5 was revealed in an entirely virtual event. Even Apple was forced to abandon over a decade of traditional September launches, with the iPhone 12 landing in October. Launching your latest smartphone, gadget, game, speaker, TV or connected device is a tricky business at the best of times. So, what do you need to know to make a consumer tech or gadget launch a success right now? Here are our top tips.

Give them early access
It’s always good to give journalists a heads-up on a product launch. Under lockdown, it has become even more important.

There are a few things at play here. While a lot of journalists have more time at their desks with fewer launches and briefings to attend, the flipside of that is increased pressure to get stories up online. With people unable to get out of the house, demand for online editorial has been huge, and publishers are looking to capitalise on this – which means more headlines and more copy for more clicks.

The earlier you can give the journalist info on your launch the better. A few days or a week’s notice on an announcement under embargo means they can work it into their schedule and plan when to publish. It also means they’re working from your information and their own notes, for a better-informed write-up and not a quick hatchet job from a press release. Plus, setting an embargo date means you can get a nice wedge of write-ups published at once. So jump on a VC and give them a good 15- to 20-minute overview of what’s coming in advance, plus budget some time to answer any questions they might have. It’s the difference between a few paragraphs and a detailed write-up.

Give them product

It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’ve got a great product and you want journalists to know how great it is, give them one to try. And give it to them well in advance.

As with the above, a week gives media time to play around with a new product or service themselves, and will add authenticity to their pieces – allowing them to make real recommendations to readers rather than re-stating the facts and specs. Couple this up with a briefing as above, and you get a great combination of facts and flavour in the editorial. It also lets you troubleshoot any issues media have with the product before they publish, catching niggles before they become a literal headline concern.

Nervous about handing out product ahead of launch? You can always commission a mock review. In this case, a freelance journalist will review your new gadget or technology for a small fee, and then write up a review as if it were appearing in a tech-focused publication. This can be a great way to get a sense of how well a product will review, and if all goes well, your mock reviewer can start pitching the product to a range of editors for you.

Give them a story

An easy one to forget, but with any product – and especially in the lockdown mindset – take a step back and think ‘who am I trying to get this kit in front of?’ and ‘what have they been up to in the past few months?’ 

If it’s a smart home product, how can it help to work from home? Is there potential for it to be an essential part of the ‘new normal’ home office? If it’s an entertainment product, does it work for smaller groups of people? Fitness tracker? Then consider how you can position it for beginners who’ve found time to regularly exercise in lockdown.

The more things change…

The fact is that everything has changed – but what worked before the pandemic still works today. A great story, time with the product and privileged access are what counts. If you can provide that to a journalist, you are on to a winner.

‘Launching in Lockdown’ is just one of the great articles featured in our exclusive e-magazine, Recharged – the new rules of consumer tech – bought to you from the great minds of Nelson Bostock and Fever. To download your copy of the magazine click right here.


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