Creating PRable products to elevate your ecom game

By Alex Hickson


If I had a pound for every brand or business that had said to me:

“Alex, we’ve launched this product – and we want to gain media coverage about it”

… well, I’d have a fair few pounds. Probably not millions, but definitely enough for a few ice lattes, or vegan sausage rolls.

To put it simply, for most businesses launching a new product or service, the launch itself isn’t enough to generate wall to wall media coverage. If you’re an ecommerce business operating in a particular niche, there’s potentially only a handful of publications that exist within your relevant industry, and the readership of those publications will be concentrated on a very select demographic of customers.

So once you’ve reached and gained those customers – how do you entice new audiences to your products or services?

You need to create products that are PRable. Or, understand what it is that journalists are looking to write about, and think about how your product can become a part of that wider conversation.

It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Do you implement PR as a tactic on existing products that you have, or create products solely that you know will appeal to the media in the hope of earning editorial coverage or links?

It’s essential to remember that if you’re looking for authentic, editorial coverage and wanting to utilise PR as an effective marketing channel – you need to think about what audiences you want to attract, what publications you think will be worth placing coverage in, and how best to make sure that your launch is an interesting story. Not an advert.

Turning existing products into something newsworthy

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a new product launch when there’s undoubtedly blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the development – but it’s important to not let this cloud your approach to press.

Think about these different headlines and approaches:

Brand Alpha launches new lipstick shade

There’s nothing technically wrong with that. You’re giving a journalist exactly what’s happening. But you’re going to be limited. You might secure some gift guide inclusions, you could go out to shopping writers and hope that they’re interested in the product itself – but after that, where else are you left to go?

Consider three things that could bolster your launch, and turn into more of an editorial story for the target publication:

  1. Incorporate key differentiators or selling points of your product
    Brand Alpha launches new lipstick shade
    Brand Alpha launch ‘most inclusive’ ever lipstick range with fifty available shades
    Whether it’s a product with a mission, something revolutionary or even just something funny – try and demonstrate exactly why this product is far more than ‘just another lipstick shade’.
  2. Can your product be hooked into current news cycle trends
    Brand Alpha launches new lipstick shade
    Brand Alpha launch the perfect Barbie pink lipstick, as demand for Barbie shades skyrocket 600%
    A journalist is more inclined to talk about a product if it’s related to a topic or trend that they know their readers are engaging with at the moment. Hooking in a pop culture trend, or some simple data to elevate your product takes it from being ‘just another lipstick’ into something that feels like it’s in the middle of a cultural zeitgeist.
  3. Use keywords and phrases that will resonate with your target audience
    Brand Alpha launches new lipstick shade
    Y2K is back: Brand Alpha launch the ultimate noughties lipstick shades
    If your product speaks to a specific audience, then SPEAK to them. Use their language, and don’t be afraid to change your tone of voice with different publications and journalists.

Fantastic product PR campaigns are story-led – and any good PR or digital PR is a storyteller first and foremost.

There’s a story to be found in most products and services, and being able to tell that story is the difference between securing editorial coverage in press, and facing blockers and barriers with content that feels advertorial – that a journalist will undoubtedly find harder to write about.

Creating products for PR

If you’re looking to launch a new product, or a new ecommerce brand with a bang – then a well thought out digital PR strategy is a great way to gain brand awareness, and land measurable linked coverage in key press to support your launch (as well as supporting your organic search).

Tapping into your target market’s trends can be a sure fire way to make gaining coverage more credibly, without feeling like a hard sell.

A nice recent example was ASOS launching a ‘Girl Dinner’ t-shirt. Anybody with a TikTok account will have come across the ‘girl dinner’ trend, so much so that it’s gone from a trending sound to an adopted part of millennial and Gen-Z lexicon. ASOS designers clearly wanted to create something in response to this – and launched the ‘Girl Dinner’ design.

However, news coverage of the product was minimal. For an ecommerce brand the size of ASOS, making a splash with every new item isn’t always going to be their highest priority – but building a product around a trending topic for its key audience could’ve been a fantastic opportunity to drive links directly into the product, and its category.

Product ‘stunt’ style campaigns done well can also be a fantastic method to try. Apart from being a personal favourite to execute (so much so I launched my own candle company purely with product PR stunts), they usually open up your brand to a wider range of publications and audiences with a fun story that can be tricky to break into. This can be invaluable, especially if your ecommerce business exists in a niche that isn’t in the mainstream.

A recent example of this in action was from Yell, who announced the launch of an ‘Eau d’Yellow Pages’ (yes, really.)

With the physical Yellow Pages directory stopping print in 2019, the perfume is meant to have notes of that nostalgic book smell so many grew up when thumbing through their Yellow Page guide.

Are Yell likely to start selling this product? Probably not.

Would Yell have had difficulty getting national digital coverage just talking explicitly about their service offering? Most likely.

Was this campaign done to attract new audiences, improve their backlink profile and get people talking about them as a brand? I’d definitely bet on it.

It takes a comical look at something that traditionally would be difficult to sell into specific publications and writers, and appeals to a broader set of potential customers.

If you are creating products specifically for PR coverage, it’s important to alter your expectations.

In an ideal world, the product would generate countless pieces of coverage and be the most profitable thing your business has ever developed. However, if it pulls in unique users to site, increases traffic, has a positive impact on related keywords and organic search and drives users into a category where they engage and convert with other products – it’s likely the value of that product becomes far greater than its actual sales.

So what should I be considering?

If you’re in the ecommerce business, and looking to amplify your existing products through PR, or are developing products you want to make a splash in the press, ensure you involve your communications team in the development process.

It’s also incredibly important to differentiate and understand the line between advertorial & editorial. Pushing a product can be the former, and developing a narrative or story that your product sits within is how you can maximise the impact of your PR efforts.

Whether it’s fashion, cloud software or homeware – search for the story within your products before you go in with sell, sell, sell.

Are you wondering how to earn media coverage with your products? Or are you developing something new and want a consultation on how best to make it work for the press?

Reach out to our experienced digital PR team by filling in the form below or get in touch.

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