One common question we get every year is, “What does a winning entry for the awards look like?”
As the parent company of Bulldog Reporter, we can’t actually apply for the PR awards, but I wanted to share what we would have entered if we could. Hopefully this example — for the Best B2B Product Launch category — will give you some good and useful ideas for crafting your own award-winning entry.
Start to finish, this entry took me only about 2 hours to put together, so stop procrastinating. You’ve spent longer shopping online for a new pair of shoes!
Category: Best B2B Product Launch
Category Description: Explain the strategy behind the launch and the response of your customer. How did your competitor, the media and other audiences react to the launch? Tell us about your tactics and the strategy behind the exceptional results. Entries in this category can share PR efforts around the launch of a new product or service, in the business-to-business arena.
Goals/Objectives (Max Score = 5)
In 150 words or less, please answer the following: What did you set out to achieve with your campaign? We want to hear about your vision. Please identify your target audiences/publics as well as budget as this helps give judges a better idea of what you are working with.
In September 2017, we released a major update of our cloud-based Agility media database and distribution solution. This product release included new social media and keyword search functionality that clients and sales had been asking for, and that our competitors couldn’t match. We decided to do our first product launch and corresponding PR campaign to:
- Highlight this new functionality to current clients, prospective clients in the PR community
- Raise awareness of our company and solution in general
- Demonstrate value to our investors, and
- Generate leads and sales for our CONNECT media database package
Our specific goals were to:
- Increase positive coverage for our parent company, Innodata, and ideally see an increase in the stock price
- Generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales inquiries about Influencer Streams
- Improve renewal rates for current media database clients
Strategy (Max score = 10)
In 300 words or less, please answer the following: What sort of strategies or tactics did you implement, and why? Did research and analysis influence the strategies chosen, and how?
For the product launch, we developed a multi-faceted strategy that included:
- Press release
- Media outreach
- Social media promotion
- Digital advertising
- Client communications
- Content marketing – developing new materials (videos, GIFs, blogs)
- Website improvements
Target audience: primarily PR & communications professionals and PR agencies in North America and the United Kingdom. This included current and prospective clients. We also had to ensure that our messaging would resonate with relevant journalists and investors.
To ensure our strategy and messaging for the launch would resonate with our target audience we did competitive research. We reviewed recent press releases, corporate websites, and publicly available product materials to determine what our competitors were offering, and if they had similar functionality. We also looked at G2 Crowd, a software review website, to understand what clients were saying about our competitors’ offerings and to understand our prominence in the market (based on our position on comparison tools and the Media & Influencer Targeting grid).
We also looked at Google adwords and an SEO tool called Ahrefs to figure out the best search terms related to this functionality so we could optimize website and press release messaging to show up in search queries.
We also interviewed Agility Sales and Support to understand why the keyword search was so important to clients and the potential benefits of the new functionality.
In order to measure the success of our efforts, we took a benchmark prior to the launch of:
- Innodata’s stock price
- Website traffic to media database-related pages
- Number of leads passed to sales per month for media database
- Search ranking for relevant keywords
And we also set up a Salesforce campaign to track if renewals or new business opportunities came in related to any of our marketing or public relations activities.
Execution (Max score = 10)
In 300 words or less, please answer the following: How did you overcome any barriers? What were some of the tactics used, and why? Please be thorough in explaining your execution.
- Webinar: We worked with an influencer in the influencer marketing space on a micro-influencer webinar. We also had a media relations guru in the UK share some of her best tips and tricks for generating coverage.
- Blogs/articles: We published a number of blogs on our site related to launch.
- Videos: We created a feature walkthrough video and GIF to be used in all outreach, on our website, and for the press release.
- How-to product documentation for new features
- New login page/live chat highlighting new functionality
- Product update article
- Client newsletter
- We capped off our efforts with a press release for the product launch on Nov. 17, 2017, distributed in the U.S. and U.K. markets.
- Due to cost, we decided to use the Agility solution to send our distribution to Canadian journalists directly.
- We used the Agility database to build a list for the Canadian distribution and to pitch the story to key journalists in the U.S. and U.K. who have written about our competitors or the industry.
Social media promotion:
- We promoted the blogs, press release, and videos on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Facebook ads
One hurdle we encountered was that our competitors had recently come out with similar functionality and had distributed a press release about it before our product was launched. This was compounded by compromises in functionality our product team had to make in the initial release in order to meet tight timelines. All this meant adjusting our key messages and shifting the focus to the fact that we were including this functionality in the base package, and that all clients were getting these features automatically and for free.
Results (Max score = 10)
In 300 words or less, please answer the following: Did you meet your initial goals? How did your PR efforts tie into underlying organisation objectives? How was evaluation/measurement factored in the various stages? Please include the metrics used, as well as any measurement tools. Were there any lessons learned?
Goal #1: increase positive coverage for our parent company, Innodata, and ideally see an increase in the stock price
- Generated valuable earned media for Agility PR Solutions and Innodata: using the Agility monitoring solution, I was able to track coverage of the product launch. Reports show we generated 11 online earned media articles and one print article, and over 470 tweets.
- Stock price and trading volume spiked the day after press release ($0.98 day of; $1.04 day after) and has continued to climb in price since (hit a three-month peak of 1.36 on Dec. 29).
Goal #2: generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales inquiries about Influencer Streams
- Using trackable links for social media and our Hubspot/Salesforce integrations, we were able to tie 18 leads back to the Influencer Streams product announcement
- Using Google analytics, we could see an increase of 8% in web traffic to our database pages
- We had 120 views of the Influencer Streams video
Goal #3: improve renewal rates for current media database clients
- Our database renewal rates improved after the product launch, and anecdotal feedback from Sales pointed to the added value of Influencer Streams and keyword search as key reasons for clients renewing.
- Using Google analytics, we could see an increase in clients logging into the Agility solution.
Innovation/Creativity (Max Score = 5)
In 300 words or less, please answer the following: What did you do differently to set yourself apart? Did you try something new, or take any risks?
We did two creative things for the product launch, both related to media relations.
First we created ‘micro-lists’ of journalists using the new Influencer Streams and keyword search capabilities. We had already created a list of journalists who wrote about business and technology when we rebranded our company as Agility PR Solutions, but I wanted to target beyond a general beat, down to those who primarily write about tech companies or software businesses. Even more, I wanted to find journalists who had written about our competitors recently — and get them to write about us. So I used these capabilities to surface potential journalists of interest, do my research on what they wrote about, and determine the best way to pitch them. I created two micro-lists:
- Business technology writers interested in the tool functionality
- Local or general business writers interested in the tech success story angle or its impact on our publicly traded parent company Innodata
I then honed two pitches based on what I thought they’d be interested in. For the local/general business writers, I took a bold and somewhat risky approach. My pitch was about how I used our tools to find them and do my research. I proposed that our tools could reduce the number of irrelevant pitches they received — and my targeted, relevant pitch was proof of that. It was a bold approach, but as this was the first time they received something from me, I needed something a little crazy to catch their attention.
The pitch with my risky approach ended up with more clicks and opens than the other distribution, and I didn’t get any negative responses back from journalists.
Innodata’s stock price around the time of the release: