In Sickness and in Stealth – Three Rules for a Company Launch


Building a lasting partnership in business can feel a lot like a marriage. Chemistry matters a lot, as does commitment, respect and trust. And like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs.

One of the most rewarding PR-client relationships starts at the very beginning. There’s nothing I love more than getting in on the ground floor with a startup in stealth, rolling up the sleeves, and helping shape the story that will launch them into the public eye.

In the last year, we’ve had the opportunity to introduce four new companies to the world: Alation, Qumulo, Snowflake Computing and ZeroStack. It’s exciting to be on the inside so early with entrepreneurs who have been quietly building a team and product, and are ready to throw back the curtains. PR can provide crucial leverage for moving a company from stealth to center stage.

Here are three “rules” we’ve found along the way help to smooth the road to a successful company launch:

Allow for ramp time.
Can one plan and execute a successful launch in two weeks? Sure, but it’s much better built over six (or more) weeks. We have accomplished a kick*ss launch in 45 days, and cut a few corners to get it done in 10 (cringe). Companies should start looking for a PR partner 30-60 days out minimum, and build PR into their launch plan early. No launch plan? Read on!

Set deadlines – and responsibilities to meet them.
There are two things that can and will delay a launch – product readiness, and the website. There are other factors, of course, but in my experience, these two trip up timing the most. Perhaps the #1 most important thing to include in that early launch plan is a go/no go date. At that point, everyone agrees: no turning back.

Define what success looks like.
A solid and lasting partnership is built upon commitment. Everyone involved must be “all in” – meeting deadlines, commitments and deliverables. Trust, honesty, and agreement on end goals up front will be key to a successful launch and ongoing relationship. Always agree on objectives up front.

While playing a part in launching a company out of stealth can be stressful, sleepless and riddled with surprises, it’s an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Over the years, our team has launched dozens of new start-ups. And when the dust had settled, we celebrated with our clients by popping some bubbly at the launch party, delivering donuts on launch morning and high fives at midnight as a website (and the company) first went “live” to the world.

In the end, a launch is so much more than a singular event – it’s building a future for the company together.