When should licensees activate their public relations campaign?

By Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With the advent of the annual Licensing Expo on June 12-14 in Las Vegas, licensors, licensees, companies, and brands will take steps to contemplate their marketing and communications plans for forthcoming product lines. In my work over the past decade with toy and youth entertainment companies, the oft-asked question inevitably comes back to timing, as in “when is the best time to activate my PR program?”

First and foremost, the licensee must consider the obligatory marketing activities detailed in the licensing contract, including advertising and promotion, public relations, and/or trade-show presence. Once established, a marketing and promotion plan (based on the general strategic marketing plan) can be devised to dovetail with the licensor’s objectives.

In addition to following the licensor’s brand-specific style guide, knowing their history of communicating and working with licensing partners can be helpful and provide tremendous insight. For example, gain insight on the licensors’ internal approval process, including key decision makers, to whom things must be submitted, and how long approval typically takes. This information will help to clarify key processes and assist the licensee to plan accordingly. Although some of the following items may seem intuitive, the PR planning process and execution must be meticulously timed to coincide with in-store or on-screen dates.

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