The Media Relations Long Game

Long road

Tech communicators have the difficult task of generating interest in technologies that may be years away from true productization and commercial readiness. How can brands engage potential customers and the media when a final product launch is months (if not years) away? How can companies keep that interest—and even build on it—over a prolonged period of time? It’s not easy. But, if done right, brands can turn one big moment (the final release/general availability) into a series of sustained interest. This is the long game.


The first step in any long-term product launch plan is being clear on what success looks like. Make sure stakeholders deeply understand what the brand is offering and what it means for its customers and the industry. Then consider the following simple visualization exercise.

Ask yourself: When the product is finally ready to launch, what does that launch look like? What does the product need to stand for (messaging-wise), and how do we want target audiences to feel about it? What business outcomes will be measured? Once it's decided what the product is trying to build up to, it’s much easier to develop a plan to get there.


A great way to sustain momentum leading into a big launch is to create a series of smaller “tentpole” moments that keep audiences engaged and reinforce desired messaging. There are many ways to do this, but product milestones, customer validation and thought leadership are among the best, creating a steady drumbeat of news and buzz.

Product Milestones

Start by examining the product development lifecycle. Are there engineering milestones to highlight? Ideation, design, prototyping and testing are all significant phases that can be used to promote progress toward a major news moment.

During product testing, a company may run industry-standard or self-imposed benchmark tests. Share these moments to show progress toward the big announcement. Certifications provide a similar opportunity if the product needs to pass tests to be certified by a governing body.

An example of benchmark coverage done well comes from Ayar Labs, which demonstrated the industry’s first CW-WDM MSA-compliant 16-wavelength light source capable of 16 Tbps data transfer, just one year after introducing the first 4 Tbps optical solution. Turning the milestone into a live demonstration at a major industry event (OFC) was significant enough to land coverage in two dozen key trade publications.

Storytelling Data

There is no greater way to drive excitement around an upcoming product than showing customers clamoring for it. If a brand is developing something new, the need for it in the market has likely been tested and researched. This data can be great fodder for news or storytelling:

  • Testing and User Input—Polling customers, partners or other stakeholders at any level of the development stage or receiving promising feedback in early testing can unveil findings to be packaged into a story or news announcement.
  • Using Data as a Story—A long lead time means brand can utilize commissioned or third-party research to explain why the product’s differentiators actually matter to customers.

Artificial intelligence and large language model stories frequently dominate tech outlet coverage, so how can companies use storytelling data to break through? By using customer and event participant data in the form of surveys. Recently, one of our clients, Predibase, was able to leverage its proprietary data to point out an uncovered angle in AI: customers are concerned about the privacy of their data and landed coverage at several outlets—some a few months after the report came out.

Thought Leadership

Product news is boring. Thought leadership can help. Before you throw your hat in that ring, make sure the thoughts are unique and interesting, come from a place of authority and are the start of a conversation.

Use your time well and utilize a number of senior management executives including the CEO, CTO, developers and engineers, to discuss why the customers and the world at large should care about this product now and when it’s finally available on the market. In addition to your own SMEs, analysts are excellent third-party experts who can provide comments to add credibility to your solutions.

The strategies and messaging should be consistent and strategic. A long lead time without strategy doesn’t do a brand any favors, but if the lead time is used to repeat key messages, deliver new information and save some fireworks for the end, that’s how you play the long game well.

Andy Lowe is Program Executive at Voxus PR.