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The Art of the Unlaunch

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Man, product development cycles are brutal these days, they’re so long and so iterative, it presents some significant PR challenges….

First you have your alpha testing, then the closed beta, then the open beta, then finally general availability (unless you’re Google).

And in between each phase you have a mixed bag of feature “updates,” “enhancements” and my personal favorite, “tweaks,” all of which demand media attention and all of which are arguably undeserving of it.

To complicate matters, development cycles can take months, sometimes years, so you can understand why some news-starved PR teams end up, unfortunately, inflating each phase into a bigger deal than perhaps it warrants.

Iterative product dev begets iterative product PR.

The challenge with iterative product PR is that if executed poorly, each phase chips away at your core product story, to the extent that by the time general availability is announced, well, their just ain’t that much more to say.

Disappearing are the days of big product stories and flashy launches (unless you’re Apple), instead the PR challenge is increasingly how you create an intelligent trail of iterative news crumbs that over time, in aggregate, tell your product story for you. It’s the art of the unlaunch.

A typical product launch usually consists of a crescendo of activities and announcements that culminate in the introduction of a new product at a pre-determined point in time.

An unlaunch is different: a product exists. Period. How you share the various iterations of the product and spur adoption is where the PR strategy resides, but there is no press release, there is no exclusive review, there is no tradeshow stage demo, and there is no flashy ad that “unveils” the product – at least not all at once.

Most important, there is no magical point in time where the product turns into a beautiful butterfly, it remains in a perpetual state of steady and stable iteration, as does the PR communications strategy.

It sounds weird, I know, but it’s already happening. More to be said about the unlaunch in the coming weeks….

Also Read:

Thoughts on unmarketing (Brian Oberkirch)

Mike Manuel is the founder of the award winning Media Guerrilla blog. Media Guerrilla is an insiders take on the practice of technology public relations with a focus on the issues, tactics and trends that are specific to the tech industry.

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The Art of the Unlaunch
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