by Bruce Maguire (Freeman Public Relations) | 21 Apr 2021
Industry Commentary, Op-Ed
Your product is ready to be launched, your sales team is finalizing placement and distribution centers are prepared for inventory. Now what? Time to spread the word to generate consumer awareness and sales. How do I make that happen?
The days of putting 90% of your marketing budget onto Saturday morning TV and waiting on the sales reports are long gone. It’s all about influencer marketing, paid opportunities, digital campaigns and great press coverage. How do I choose between these options, especially when I don’t have big budgets?
The answer, according to Freeman Public Relations, a boutique New Jersey agency, is to start “blending.” Quickly. Success depends on the right blend of influencer marketing and traditional media (yes, it’s still very much a thing), sprinkled with some paid opportunities, budget permitting. Options may include paid influencer content, expert media tours, media showcases, digital campaigns and more.
“There is simply not a one-size-fits-all answer,” says Amy Friedland, Executive Vice President of Freeman PR. On one hand, the agency has clients with tight budgets that rely almost exclusively on earned influencer marketing and a robust publicity campaign. Other clients have budgets that allow for a combination of tactics. The bottom line is both can generate awareness for the brand and help deliver sales.
Freeman PR early on recognized the important role influencers would play in the PR world. The agency flew around the country, following creator shows sprouting up around this new medium. From Vidcon to Clamour, Freeman PR teams were on site representing its clients, creating visual pop-up experiences that were perfect for content creators’ channels on YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok. As a result, being on the ground floor has allowed the team to develop personal relationships with many of these creators. “It’s always about the relationships in the world of PR and that is true on the creator side as well as the traditional media side,” said Friedland. It’s also true when it comes to the critical agency/client relationship; that partnership must position the agency as an extension of the marketing team to align for success.
Freeman PR is of course, equally proud of its nurtured relationships with hundreds of editors, producers and TV hosts. “We’ve been doing this for over 40 years,” says agency president Bruce Maguire. Freeman PR is also particularly proud of their work with toy industry experts. “They are an invaluable resource in any PR program; these are the people on the front lines talking trends with media and influencers.” Drilling down, there are numerous tactics that go into the campaign beyond relationships - from trade shows and media showcases to media and influencer sampling, toy tests and more.
Freeman PR has an unparalleled history in the toy industry, alongside a variety of lifestyle brands. They’ve represented toy companies of all shapes and sizes at every New York Toy Fair since 1981. They helped to land dozens of TOTY wins for their clients. And they’ve even won the coveted PR Week Marketing Launch Campaign of the Year for a toy introduction, among other accolades.
Maguire has witnessed a dramatic evolution in toy marketing during his four decades in the business and says the key is quickly adapting to new trends while maintaining the discipline that comes with experience. “We’re able to provide our clients with distinct, yet completely intertwined skill sets,” Maguire says. “Our senior team, which stays involved in every client, has been part of some of the most successful toy launches of all time and our clients benefit from what we’ve learned over the years. At the other end of the spectrum, we have young professionals who are totally immersed in new media trends and are ahead of whatever’s coming up next.”
That formula has led to plenty of long-term client relationships. That includes a 30+ year run representing many of Mattel’s biggest brands (including the historic launch of Tickle Me Elmo) as well as several current clients that have been with the agency for close to a decade.
“While we’re certainly proud of our accomplishments for our larger and mid-sized clients,” says Friedland, “we also really love when we’re able to help a new company launch a product to sell-out status.” Two start-up companies on Freeman PR’s current client list have garnered both TOTY and TAGIE nominations in 2020 and, equally important, secured reorders from major retailers thanks to empty shelves before the holiday was over.
“The toy industry is recognizing the powerful and affordable impact of PR,” said Maguire. “While the evolving marketing landscape provides us with more ways to reach parents and kids, it still ultimately comes down to relationships and combining the right blend of tactics with storytelling. And there’s no better industry in the world for great storytelling than the toy industry.”
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