Writing a press release for a product before it exists might sound strange, but it’s perhaps one of the most valuable exercises you can do before product development kicks into gear. In this article, we’ll run down the main benefits of writing a pre-development press release, as well as some best practices to keep in mind when doing so.
The benefits of writing a pre-development press release include consolidation of that all-important product vision, winning buy-in from stakeholders and team members alike, building the foundation for successful marketing activities in the future, and revealing any weak points or uncertainties surrounding the product offering and intended customer base.
Let's take a look at these benefits in more detail.
Having a fantastic idea for a product isn’t always enough to get it developed. Stakeholders and team members are more likely to support and approve a development project if they’re given a clear vision from the outset.
Writing a pre-development press release enables you to provide just that.
If decision-makers can understand what your product offers customers and see its potential, they will be more willing to invest budget and resources into making it a reality. Of course, this is entirely dependent on whether your product actually offers the value you think it does. But don’t worry, writing a press release can help you determine this too! Let’s explore…
Interrogate your own assumptions
It’s easy to walk around with an idea of why your product matters and how it will help your customers, but there’s something about attempting to express those ideas on paper that forces you to test your assumptions. This can sometimes be a little frightening, particularly if you realise there isn’t a straight line between what your product offers and what your audience needs or wants.
It’s far better to realise these obstacles before the product development engine starts rumbling than a few months down the road. A pre-development press release enables just that, affording project decision-makers to iron out the kinks, solidify a full-proof product vision that they can continually refer back to throughout the development process.
Understand your future audience
Everything starts and ends with the customer, so make sure you know who they are and what they want.
Writing a pre-development press release encourages you to pinpoint exactly what benefits your product offers and more importantly, place them in a context that relates directly to your future customer base. This will also help you identify what benefits matter most to your audience and in doing so help you prioritise development resources when it comes time to build your product.
Tip: Alongside your press release, try writing a hypothetical customer review of your product. In the review, outline what benefits your customer got from the product, provide real-world applications of the product and attempt to anticipate any aspects of the product the customer may not like.
Nail your product messaging early
“Capture family memories with unmatched clarity” will appeal to your average consumer far more than “this smartphone camera has a gazillion megapixels”. That’s because, for the most part, your customers don’t care about your product features. To make them care, you must ensure those features are communicated in a context that relates to them personally.
Too often, this technique is forgotten when it comes time to market a new product. Instead, excitement surrounding clever and exclusive features your development team has worked tirelessly to include in your product spills over into the content used to market it. The result is spec-heavy content that fails to contextualise technical features with their real-life applications.
Writing a pre-development press release also allows you to kickstart marketing activities sooner, rather than later. So, when your product is ready to launch it does so with support from tightly focused and targeted marketing content, maximising interest and sales leads.
Press-release structure and best practices
Say it in a line, or two
Start with a headline and a sub-headline communicating what your product has to offer. The ability to capture a customer’s attention as they’re scrolling through social media is a massive part of modern marketing. You need to win your audience’s attention by relating your product to their needs.
Start with a short summary of what your product is, what it does and who it’s for. Remember, always refer to the problem your customers face and your product solves. You’ll have an opportunity to go into a little more detail later but for now, assume readers won’t read past your first paragraph so keep it short, simple and avoid jargon.
Set the scene. Establish the current market or environment your product is entering into. Highlight challenges that your intended audience face, even if they’re unaware they’re facing it. This section is concerned with justifying the existence of your product, so make sure it’s air-tight, backed up by relevant market research if possible.
Showcase your product as the solution to problem(s) outlined in the section above. Ensure this section is benefit-led and avoid feature overload. Remember, your audience is primarily concerned with benefits. That’s not say features aren’t worth touching on, but only as supportive proof-points to the product benefits.
We hope this article has helped communicate the amount of value writing a pre-development press release delivers for comparatively little effort. If you can answer key questions about your product offering and intended audience from the start, you’re setting yourself for success before development event begins.