29 Jan Behind the Scenes at CES: What it Was Like to Launch Ehang’s Passenger Drone
Launching the Ehang 184 was a completely surreal experience, and the highlight of my career in PR. I felt like I was at a music festival where eHang was one of the most sought-after bands in the lineup, and it was my job to give their fans VIP stage access. In this case, those fans were journalists and the result of that VIP access came in the form of web, TV and social media coverage.
It felt a little like this:
The end results were spectacular. Multiple reporters told us the Ehang 184 was the “star of the show.” Others described it in print as “a game changer.” In all, we generated more than 1,000 articles and nearly 500 TV segments. We were featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNet, TechCrunch, Maxim, Men’s Journal, the TODAY Show, had two separate segments on CNN and a lot, lot more. We engaged with journalists from dozens of countries, which wasn’t even part of the plan.
But all of this didn’t happen overnight. Our Ehang 184 CES “concert” involved a long and fairly complicated planning process. We knew that to stand out at CES, we had to deliver massive success within minutes of our announcement. Here’s how we approached the challenge:
- We timed the announcement to hit the day after Ford, Qualcomm, VW and others all unveiled their own self-driving cars—meaning reporters were primed for even more on the future of transportation.
- We set up interviews ahead of time with a very targeted set of top press outlets, who agreed to time their articles to go live right after the eHang press conference.
- We gave each reporter a full FAQ and spec sheet before their interviews, allowing them to ask fewer technical questions and more questions about the vision for 184—shaping their articles to be more positive and future-facing.
- We kept most of the announcement a secret (they even had to sign a NDA), pre-briefing only a handful of reporters with the full product details. This meant our official unveiling was the first time hundreds of media had even thought of the possibilities behind a passenger drone, again channeling their focus more towards the future of such a product.
On launch day, that thinking and hard work paid off. By the time we headed down to our booth post-press conference to actually show the eHang 184, there were several hundred people all patiently waiting for their first glimpse.
Our team sprung into action. We dashed around the booth, finding every journalist we could and getting them the information they needed. This was such a media frenzy that we didn’t have time to type out emails to attending press! Instead, we had to send photos of reporters’ business cards back to our team in San Francisco so they could share the right information with the right people. It was a huge launch day that saw coverage everywhere from Wired to Slate to Stuff Magazine, and won numerous “Best of CES” awards from outlets like Engadget and Mashable.
I feel privileged to have been a part of this launch. Someday, I’ll tell my grandkids about the part LaunchSquad played in launching the world’s first self-flying car, and how we changed transportation forever. I might even do so from my a new Apple Brain Phone (trademark pending) while sitting in my own eHang 184! But the work’s not done. We’ve regrouped, and we’re focused on telling this story to even more people all around the world. Stay tuned, planet Earth, because the 184 is coming!