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So You Think You Can Launch at CES?

A case study in timing, teamwork and PR strategy

· Startups,CES

CareOS team gets it done. And you can too.

In December I was referred to a company called CareOS that was heading to CES in January. The timing was short and the team was international. But the real challenge was that they were launching an IOT operating system at the World's Largest Consumer Electronics show! When I was getting ready to meet the team I thought, "how will we pull this off?" But we did and the results were phenomenal. I have never had such a malleable and responsive team! And they made it happen in just 30 days! They had coverage in CNET, Europa 1, PC Magazine, Reuters, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. While I do not recommend EVER doing this, in this short of time, let me tell you how we did it. Here is a quick case study.

While a camera in the bathroom sounds like something you’d want to cover with duct tape, CareOS chief technology officer Ali Mouizina says all of your data is stored locally. The system won’t even share it with any other smart home or media hubs in your house, unless you want it to.  After all, he said, the bathroom is “a private place, a very special place.”

Step 1: Know the show - CES is a highly visual event where operating systems aren't the sexiest thing around. Understanding this, we let the show help us by doing several things. Combing through the event kit to understand all the additional opportunities they offer, such as the ability to post a 2-minute video on the site or the press kit. We also looked at the timing of the startup event we were being showcased at. The NVIDIA press conference was right after. How could we create a lasting impression before everyone went to that press conference?! We had to take a long look at the week. If it wasn't that Sunday, what did we need to do to drive traffic to the booth for the entire week? So we laid the week out on a spreadsheet and circled opportunities. And we filled out all of the forms for every opportunity the show had to offer.

Step 2: Adjust the message - Knowing the show, its visual attraction and its audience we tweaked the message a bit. We knew there were a lot of strong IOT players at the show, many of whom should leverage our OS to get the most out of their product. But we also knew it had to be visual. The team built a demo to show the capabilities of the OS in an incredibly sexy and amazing bathroom mirror. Yes, yes, we weren't the only mirror there. But inclusion in stories with other major players and at the same time, clearly differentiating that we are the OS those other mirrors need by highlighting 9 IOT partner devices working in the mirror, allowed us to show a new side to the space. To top it off, the team understood through their research that you might not want your health and wellness hub connected with your other hubs. And it was Vegas! So naturally the taglines "Let CareOS Care For You" and "What Happens In the Bathroom Stays In the Bathroom" resonated well. Finally we shot video of the mirror in action and visuals of the mirror and the OS set top box, all to be included in the services and packages shared with press before the show.

Step 3: Understand the media - CES attracts media from all over the world. Not everyone wants to see your product and they also don't want to hear from you a few weeks before the show. So we took the show media list and cut it up. The company was from France - so let's separate out the European media which will have a slightly different angle on the homegrown companies at the show. Then we separated out the health and wellness and IOT folks that had covered similar products in the past - understand that if you do your homework this is a list of 20 out of 3000 and they will thank you for it. We also made a list of health and wellness editors that were NOT going to be at the show. We would send releases to them as a heads up. Finally, we separated out the photographers and cameramen. They are looking for the best shot. And we knew we had a demo that would look great on camera.

Step 4: Rehearse - I can't explain this enough. Rehearse your demos until they are boring to you. On the CES show floor everyone becomes a spokesperson and the day quickly becomes a blur of conversations and questions. If you know the demo, everything else is a breeze. So just do it. It's literally the easiest thing you can do to have a good show.

Step 5: TIMING TIMING TIMING - PR is all about timing. How do you reach journalists at the right time, when they are receptive, and with the right message. So we sat down and asked ourselves, what is Day 1 like for a journalist at CES? And we adjusted our launch timing and announcement releases in order to avoid the noise and give journalists ample time to discover the company before the event, write or do an interview early if they wanted, or simply just add our booth to their list of must sees. We were the first stop for the AP (Getty Image photo) and Reuters photographers who immediately posted the Care OS images that ran on almost all of our news coverage.

Step 6: Be Responsive - After a long day on the show floor it is not time to go to sleep or party too much. That is when the emails came in - from reporters, major brand partners, and investors. They wanted answers to questions, meeting times for the next day and to send additional documentation. The team stayed up all night making sure the next day was scheduled and just as good as the first. And it worked. By the time they left they were booked with interviews and meetings for the rest of the month.

Step 7: Treat Yo'self - Because of prior commitments I couldn't be at the show. But I kept my phone and laptop with me and I spoke with the team every, single day. But I think my biggest role was in cheerleading. When I saw a clip come in, I called and emailed everyone. They were doing great! But I also made sure they knew that before they left Vegas they needed to celebrate. So I called some good local friends for restaurant recommendations and made sure everyone booked a day at the spa before getting on a plane! Finally when they got back to the Paris, they gathered all the great news clips and video and sent them to partners, colleagues and investors. You must toot your own horn!

Not every event is ideal but with a little audience empathy, a lot of positivity and a team that is willing to go the extra mile, you can make anything happen. This was such an enjoyable group! If you want to learn more about CareOS and the future of the bathroom for health and wellness you should check them out at https://www.care-os.com/

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