Editor’s note: Shana Starr is CEO of PR firm Bastion Elevate, Newport Beach, Calif. 

I’ve been in PR for a long time, and in the beginning it was all about the trade shows. Sure, products would be launched with a variety of PR tools ranging from satellite media tours to traditional press releases and, later, social media. But the trade show was special. It was a vibrant environment where brands and press converged to network, learn and launch an exciting new product. 

This is the world where I cut my teeth and launched a brand of my own. I thrived on the energy of trade shows, connecting clients with reporters; seeing the latest and greatest innovations; and exchanging ideas with businesspeople from around the world. It was such a rush, not to mention a fruitful landscape for a PR professional.

It saddens me that these live in-person events have halted amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that in no way lessons the important missions that trade shows served – launching products, amplifying brands and educating the public. Now that trade shows are on a break – or going virtual – how should brands rework a product launch strategy? 

1. Identify your audience and pinpoint if you are going wide with your launch strategy or just targeting a vertical audience. This is a key differentiator in how you should approach a launch strategy. To reach a wide range of people, put together a multipronged approach, using influencers to help spread the word, a social media blitz and a PR campaign to get your word out in full force. The point of a multipronged campaign is to come up with an outreach strategy to get in front of the most people that you can, coordinate the announcement, reach out to influencers in exchange for product or monetary compensation, and understand how your targeted consumer consumes new products. Audit competition and do this research before you move forward with your launch.

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