This post focusses more on my day job but think it may resonate with some bloggers as well. It’s something I’ve talked through with a couple of PR friends who get nothing short of desperate when they hold a product launch because they know perfectly well that no matter what day they host it, there will be a clash. And, that’s because it seems as though every single product ever produced gets a ‘launch’. And there are only so many hours in a day.
I recently went to a product launch that took an hour to get to, about five minutes to see the product, and an hour home again. What that represents for me and I guess lots of other beauty writers is two hours working into the evening because I haven’t had a chance to do my day job during the DAY! And to literally look at two products which were only a variation on a theme anyway seemed to me such a waste of time – and I might say, money (theirs, not mine).
I’m wondering if it is that there are so many freelance PRs who, without the same costs as bigger agencies, can afford to PR for a much more attractive price than the biggies, which means that PR is no longer the luxury it once was and is now absolutely standard for almost every single brand, no matter how small. And, the expectation of the client is such that if you hold a ‘launch’ lots of press and bloggers will come which will mean a success for the product. And that just isn’t the case. Not everything needs a launch, not everything needs the physical presence of beauty writers to succeed; sometimes it is literally a question of making a phone call (forget email if you really want a writer to hear you) that pricks up my ears. I had an idea the other day that if you want to catch a busy writer’s attention, send them a cupcake if you need to frill it up and an invitation to tea-by-phone. I’d love that.. because it literally only takes the time of the call out of my day, not the hour into London and hour home for the same amount of product-time investment. And, the very fact that I’m trying to shave minutes off my time at beauty launches to work on writing about beauty tells you that it’s a state that can’t continue.
But, maybe I need to say how it used to be before this post comes off as exceptionally ungrateful! When I first started writing about beauty, a big launch was quite a big deal; we’d really look forward to going to them and they did make the products memorable. There was always a format; a glass of something, a presentation, a demonstration and then some canapés followed by goodie bag and out you go. You would spend time listening and looking and generally being sociable because they were infrequent enough that the time was justifiable. Now, everyone is in such a rush, a PR is lucky to get anyone to sit still for long enough to make it through the presentation, never mind the demo and the canapés! Chances are we are all legging it home or to the office with a quick stop at Subway to crack on with writing, but it always looks rude. I actually witnessed some writers at an event coming in to collect the ‘gift’ and leaving without even taking their coats off and no matter how rushed I feel, I just can’t in all conscience do that unless there is a very good reason. The pace of launches has moved up so many gears, it is not physically possible to attend all of them. And then the PR is left managing the client’s expectations and answering questions about why everyone left or didn’t even turn up in the first place.
What’s working at the moment for me are launches that are a more intimate group setting where it feels like I’m not ‘at work’ so I don’t feel so utterly stressed about losing yet another evening or afternoon, where I get to hear properly about a product in a relaxed setting. It’s harder and harder to do ‘rush and look’ launches especially if they’re not absolutely central because you can end up doing a Challenge Anneke type thing all over London (where most launches are) that leaves you wrung out.. or it does me, anyway. I can only look and marvel at those who can them all! Ironically, in a previous post I had a go at those who send their ‘interns’ or assistants to launches instead of pitching up themselves, but now I really get why sometimes that has to be the case.
So, launches now, in my view, need to stop being about impressing all with much, but more about communicating effectively with less. And then we can all start to look forward to them again.
I probably need to add that I know the effort and work that goes into launches; I love that launches are part of the beauty scene and they’re so important to it, but not everything needs a ‘launch’. And, it would be great if some PRs could pitch in here because I’d love to know if you feel ‘up against it’ with launches.
*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.