Launching Against All Odds

April 6, 2016


Your awesome client tells you that they have news – which is music to a PR pro’s ears. Nothing excites me more than having a good story to sell to the media. Press releases, pre-briefings, getting the product ready, it’s all very thrilling until the unexpected happens.

Our client, Rachio, a maker of smart sprinkler controllers, came to Barokas Communications, ready to launch their second generation of product. Lovers of Earth and conservation, we were all very excited about the prospect of representing Rachio. The challenge? Pitching a seasonal product in the dead of winter with Winter Storm Jonas unexpectedly wreaking havoc on the East Coast the exact week of launch. All our reporter friendlies in New York and New Jersey who wanted to test the product? Yeah, forgetta ‘bout it. Media suddenly had other things dominating their time.

What’s a team to do?

Set expectations

Luckily, before our team even began thinking about drafting a pitch for launch and before these winter storms starting brewing, it was very critical to set expectations with our partner beforehand. By having an initial conversation, where we outlined achievable goals to our partner, we were able to gather resources and prepare a solid plan for the client.

Make a work-back plan

Building a work-back plan from the expected day of launch, helped get the team and our partner on the same page. By starting with the day of launch and working backward, we planned each week out with precision. 1 month out, begin pitching pre-briefings; 3 weeks out, begin sending images of the product; 2 weeks out, finalize the press release; 1 week out, send release under embargo, and so the plan goes. With a sold strategy in place and working out months before the launch date, we were able to secure immense interest before launch, even in the middle of winter. We knew a winter launch for a smart sprinkler controller would be a challenge, little did we know that Jonas was on the way…

Under promise and over deliver

After hustling hard to book pre-briefings and get reporters to test the product during Winter Storm Jonas, the release crossed the wire. After aggressively following up with our contacts with the finalized release, we couldn’t wait to see which piece would publish first. Would TechCrunch cover the Amazon Echo exclusive? Was CNET going to publish? What if the messaging was wrong? And then, it happened. FLOODS, I mean, FLOODS of coverage started rolling in. CNET, The Verge, Tech Hive, TechCrunch, and then reposting after reposting of those top-tier hits. To this day, after several product and company launches, compiling that launch day coverage report was the most gratifying thing I’ve done in PR. The client was extremely impressed by our aggressive efforts and we were thrilled to have over delivered on expected coverage through it all. 

Don’t leave ‘em hanging

Even on launch day as coverage was posting, we were already thinking about how we could sustain this momentum. To keep the ball rolling, we continued brainstorming new story angles and identifying new contacts at our target publications. We’ve been able to create a consistent cadence of coverage in top tier publications through product reviews, broadcast features, and giveaways in gift guides.

There’s no way to anticipate the power of Mother Nature, but having a solid team in place and working closely with our client ensured that launch would be successful, even during an apocalyptic snow storm.



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