There is a common misconception that delaying a PR campaign until a month or less before launch will save money.
Truth is you will NOT save money, but can potentially cripple the effectiveness and results of your campaign. Nonetheless, we’ve been contacted by far too many companies who have spent years on product development, only to delay engaging us until a few weeks before launch under the misguided notion that they’ll save money.
Yet great PR campaigns are predicated on great preparation and eliminating or condensing that timeline is counterproductive and in the long run, probably costlier.
Why You Won’t Save $$$?
The culprit for this misunderstanding is the antiquated hourly billing system used by PR agencies. Nimble and flexible agencies now bill by the project, and amortize the cost in equal payments over the length of the project. This enables agencies to effectively scale to any size project, while providing clients with piece of mind that each billing cycle will be surprise-free.
So if a campaign has an overall budget of $40,000 and it encompasses 4 months, you’d be billed $10,000 per month. Start that same job a month earlier, and you’ll be billed $8,000 per month for 5 months. Either way it’s the same $40K spend.
Three Reasons Why Sooner is Better
Better Messaging: the extra time allows for additional research and A/B testing to see what is resonating best with the media. Messaging is often one of the most overlooked, underappreciated aspects of PR, and being able to make subtle tweaks based on ongoing feedback is critical to ensuring your product resonates with your audience.
Expanded Editorial Opportunities: reaching out to media well in advance of launch not only gets you in their editorial queue sooner, but enables you to potentially increase the depth and diversity of coverage by allowing time for interviews, behind-the-scenes look-ins, etc. Going out early also give you enough time to work with media on any problems they are encountering with your product and hopefully resolve them before publication.
Timeliness! Starting a campaign early enough allows your PR agency to embargo certain coverage so that it makes the greatest impact on your audience. Waiting to start a campaign can put you at the mercy of numerous variables which can delay or even exclude coverage entirely.
So when should you engage your PR partner?
Depending on the product, we prefer a 2-3 month lead time. So clients should begin gathering proposals at least 3-4 months prior to launch in order to give prospective agency partners time to prepare quality proposals and for you to review them.
In the end, delaying doesn’t buy you anything but potential trouble. Starting a campaign at the proper time results in better preparation which increases your chance of success.