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Opinion and Insight
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Is Your Baby Ugly?

Havas Worldwide, 6 months, 1 week ago

Mia West, VP of Publicity for Havas Formula, on how to ensure you 'give birth' to a pageant-winner

Is Your Baby Ugly?

Hearing your baby is ugly is a hard truth to swallow; whether it’s a living, breathing, pooping baby or a new product you’ve poured your entire being into. The sad reality is that some babies are indeed ugly to varying degrees. The challenge is: being as close as you are to that baby (i.e. product), it’s often hard to see. And this can present complications when it comes time to ask for PR support. Here’s how to ensure you give birth to a pageant-winner.


 

Invite Us In for Some Baby-Making

Often times, the PR team is left out of critical conversations, and by the time we are brought on board, it’s too late for us to pretty things up. As the plan is being hatched for a launch, extend an invitation to PR. By having a seat at the strategy table, PR can lend insight that can help steer the project in a direction that will have the media just as excited as you are.

One of the things a 'parent' has the most difficulty wrapping their head around is media-worthiness. Yes, we know no one is going to tell you how to raise your child. However, the old adage 'it takes a village' applies here, too. Your PR team understands what the media will or will not be drawn to and can offer constructive criticism to help you avoid missing the mark. By keeping an open mind and remaining flexible, your PR team can help you rework your plan so it will have traction in the news.

 

My Kid Is Special: Product Differentiation

Let’s be honest. Very few kids are special. While the launch might be new to your company, unless it is first to market, revolutionising how things are done, creating a new category or has a clear point of difference, it may not resonate with press. The same goes for things like sales, discounts, charitable donations (depends on size and scope), contests, etc. The media is interested in game-changers, breaking trends and things that bring value to their audience. They are also inundated with pitches touting the 'next big thing.' Since most don’t measure up, you can only imagine how jaded and skeptical media must be. That being said, your PR team may offer a new perspective on how to differentiate your launch and successfully communicate the value proposition so you break through the clutter.

 

The Kid Has Lungs: Defining Target Audiences

Trying to be all things to all people and casting a wide net with your communications strategy can ultimately dilute an otherwise strong message. Your PR team can help you develop a thoughtful approach that is tailored to reach each of your target audiences, but first these must be clearly defined. This should be a mix of both aspirational targets, as well as existing customers, because while you hope to enhance your reach, you don’t want to forget your loyal fan base. PR can also help you identify additional audiences that may have a use for your product and craft powerful messaging for each that reaches them.

 

Baby’s First Steps: Availability

Distribution is a critical component in how media evaluates your product’s 'worthiness'. If you are taking baby steps and planning a slow roll out, know that national media likely won’t give you coverage until the product is available nationwide. Selling online can serve as a workaround in some cases, but it’s not always a quick fix, especially if the product is food-related and freshness is imperative. Why? The media doesn’t want to create demand if the product isn’t available, as they don’t want angry consumers on their hands. On the flipside, if you’re focused on launching in specific DMAs and need a PR program to support it, your national campaign may not be appropriate. You will likely need to craft a message that really localizes the story and creates value for that specific marketplace.

 

Toddlers & Tiaras: Knowing the Competition

If you’ve ever seen the show 'Toddlers & Tiaras,' you know Mama June was always sizing up the competition. Your PR team is doing the same thing with your competition and they are paying close attention to their press coverage. If your launch is relying on a hook that has already been heavily covered by the media, they likely won’t cover it again, which means it’s time to find another sweet spot. Asking your PR team to pitch a 'me too' story that asks a reporter to write a repeat story is a waste of everybody’s time. This comes back to differentiating your product to create more momentum, especially if it’s a latecomer to the party.

 

A Labor of Love: A Creative Approach

Having a 'face that only a mother can love' is not always an irreversible situation. In most cases, all that is needed is a little face lift (i.e., creative thinking) to overcome some of the aforementioned hurdles. PR pros often see things through a different lens and can offer simple solutions like aligning with a brand or influencer that targets your audience, humanizing your story, identifying nontraditional uses to spark aha! moments, or immersing the media in the brand and company culture so they can see why they should become evangelists.

Most people don’t have the intestinal fortitude to hear their baby is ugly, which is completely understandable. Thankfully, PR folks know how to deliver the message gently, since we are in the business of communication and nurturing 'relationships'. So the next time you receive the disheartening news, don’t fret; just work with your PR team to turn your Honey Boo Boo into the next Gerber baby.