But calling us when you’re ready to launch is far too late. We need time to get acquainted.

--

PRs hate to say no.

Yet how many times have I had to politely decline an inbound query from a new FinTech startup, burning with enthusiasm to launch its new product … in a fortnight, and asking ‘could we please handle their launch PR?’

Um, no.

An effective launch campaign — in fact all effective Public Relations — needs more time. Lots more; for media research, planning, competitive and channel analyses, and intelligent content creation. Then — and only then — do we push the Go button.

Contacting an agency when you’re ready to launch product or enter a new market is far too late. It takes a process of months, not weeks, to develop a strategic plan that will warm the sales environment and help get you in front of prospects. Anything less risks failure, disappointment, and a waste of precious funding.

There is no lastminute.com for PR

That plan needs to be well-rounded, consistent and strategic. It has to establish channels of communication, define key audiences, and create messages that will stir the interest of prospects and the people who influence them. It has to be localised for the UK or national markets in EMEA. Finally it must revolve around content that addresses the pain points and hot industry topics which drive informal market conversations.

Do all that and you’ll have a PR platform that can deliver results. It takes 2–3 months to brief and engage an agency, build your programme, activate it, and start seeing coverage. It takes another three months to see consistent month-to-month coverage in top tier media titles.

That goes double for companies already enjoying a measure of media attention in their home market and expecting to repeat it in the UK or Europe. The cold reality is that press interest rarely travels. Even in the internet age you have to be prepared to be unknown again, to introduce yourself to each country’s press, and explain your relevance to their national markets.

Here are three other PR pitfalls to avoid when preparing the media campaign to propel your launch or local market entry.

Budget for long-term PR, or be quickly forgotten

Once you start talking to media, you need to keep talking. Successful PR needs an ongoing programme of proactive media work, punctuated by periodic, high-impact campaigns. Many FinTechs and startups generally fail to grasp this. As a result they squander the interest and enthusiasm created at launch by going quiet for months afterward.

Here’s the thing. Just because you don’t have a new product or a new customer to announce doesn’t mean you can’t continue reaching out to press. With a pipeline of content, tactics, and relationships, you can make news even when there is no news. That’s why you hire an agency.

Time — do you have it?

At risk of being repetitive, PR takes time, and a lot of it — agency time to be sure, but also your time as a client.

Media opportunities often arrive and evaporate quickly. If you don’t have space in the diary each week for spokespeople to participate in media briefings on short notice, or provide the right level of direction, and fast approval for the content the agency develops, your PR will fall flat.

That doesn’t mean you have to dedicate your life to PR — the agency should do 95% of the work an all the heavy lifting — but that 5 per cent of you time is crucial if the programme is going to progress in a timely fashion. Work with the agency to agree a rollout schedule that is realistic, and fits the time you and your team can dedicate to it.

Content is still King (and Queen, and Rook, and …)

In the digital age, PR has arguably evolved into an arm of content marketing, where journalism is the distribution channel. That’s a good thing for FinTechs selling platforms, software, or services to finance professionals, or B2C FinTechs helping consumers simplify their banking and investments.

It means you can generate coverage and interest in the gaps between customer wins and company announcements. Thought leadership, advice-based content, success stories, blog posts, creative pitches, social media dashboards; generating your own content will make all the difference to the effectiveness of PR strategies.

Long term programmes also need measurement and evaluation to ensure they’re working, so set fixed, measurable goals and evaluate progress monthly. Don’t sit on bad news or dither when you aren’t seeing traction. Be clear and honest about what’s working and what’s not, and track progress so you can make course corrections along the way.

Success should be just a matter of time.