Considering doing your own PR? Read this first.

PR can be a great tool to build your brand, but it's not easy to do on your own.

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Mark Pecota | CEO at LaunchBoom

Considering doing your own PR? Read this first.

Investing time and money into a PR campaign can help you reap a lot of rewards, but not every crowdfunding campaign has access to the resources necessary to hire a firm. It’s possible to do some PR for yourself, as long as you have a plan and follow it carefully. We’ve compiled some things you need to know before you get started.

The reality of the media

Media is a tough business. Very few newsrooms are well-staffed, which means that the journalists in those rooms have very little time. They have to work incredibly hard to churn out content for a neverending news cycle, thanks to the internet and social media. It’s not your responsibility to fix this, of course, but understanding what the media is facing can help you cater to their needs and therefore get the coverage you’re after.

If you’re going to pitch to a journalist, make sure you’re relevant to them. You shouldn’t pitch an automotive journalist about covering your new headphones, for example. It’s easy enough to do this research; look for who’s writing about products in your category and read a few of their articles. See what the comments on those articles are like so you know if it’s an audience you want your product in front of. It will take you some time to get a list of the best people to pitch, but a slow and well-targeted approach is far better than one of high volume and low quality.

If there are some key journalists in your category who have a large influence, build relationships with those people. The few big names that dominate your field will influence coverage in a lot of smaller markets, who look to these bigger outlets to set their own news agenda. Try to be memorable for good reasons—give them something they’re not expecting, but stay on brand.

You can often build and maintain these relationships through social media. One of the most important things you can do is to make yourself a resource for them, which means talking to them about more than your own products and company. Send them things that could be useful to them—industry reports, sales trends, anything that they might find relevant. Even if they’ve already seen it, sending them things and offering to discuss them can make you stand out, which may make pitching to them in the future easier.

How to pitch to media

There’s a simple format that every media pitch should follow for the best chances at success: send a short, individualized email to the people who will be most interested in your product. Don’t cold call people, and don’t send the same form letter to everyone on your list. Keep it to 5-8 sentences, even though it will feel nearly impossible to trim your pitch down that much. It may help to follow this script: explain what the problem is, talk about the status quo solutions, explain why your new solution is better, and give a call to action (let me send you a sample, let’s schedule an online demo, etc.). That’s all you need!

The number one rule in pitching is don’t be a nuisance. Send your pitch email and follow up a few days after that, but if you don’t get a reply, don’t keep bugging the person. If you annoy them now, they may turn down the chance to talk to you later about a different product because they have negative feelings about you from last time.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose 5-10 outlets for an advance look at your product. Exclusives can seem like a great way to foster excitement about what you’re creating, but unless you manage to land an interview with someone incredibly influential in your product category, it’s best to spread the news to a wider net.

Once you’ve secured an interview, do your research. Make sure you know who you’re talking to and what they’ve liked or disliked in the past; if there are things that tend to make them happy, work that knowledge into your presentation. The pitch should be personalized, but tailoring your presentation will give you a better chance at getting positive coverage.

Why demoing is vital to PR

Giving a demonstration of your product can be one of the most vital parts of the PR process. Being able to show a journalist what your product actually doesis important in getting them to write about it.

Here are some key things to remember as you plan and give your demo:

  • Having a prototype is not optional. You need to be able to prove what your product can do in real time by showing something tangible; a video on its own isn’t good enough.
  • Your prototype doesn’t have to be fully functional at this stage. If certain things aren’t working yet, clearly lay that out before you get to the meeting; tell them what they can expect to see and what’s still in development. Setting expectations is key!
  • Remember that doing a demo is about your presentation from the second they see you to the second you leave. It’s not just the contents of your prepared presentation that could end up in the article! Make sure you show up early, conduct yourself professionally, and keep everything moving as smoothly as you can.
  • If possible, try to have two people from your company at the demo. Not only can people from different parts of your company give different viewpoints on your product, but if something goes awry during your presentation, you’ll have someone to answer questions while the other person fixes whatever went wrong.
  • This demo isn’t the time to get into the nitty gritty details on every aspect of your product. Plan your presentation to convey 2-3 main messages, and leave room for questions. You don’t want to overload your audience.
  • Consider leaving your sample with the interviewer if it works well and can be operated without you being there. The more familiar they can be with the product, the more honestly they can write about it.
  • Though it may seem rudimentary, don’t forget to follow up after the interview. Send a note of thanks; these often get skipped, but showing your appreciation can help make an overall positive impression of you and your company.
  • If you reach out after the article is published, never critique the tone; even if they didn’t review your product favorably, you went to them for an honest opinion. You could ruin your company’s reputation if you complain about the coverage they gave you. If there are factual errors, correct those professionally and calmly, but otherwise, don’t give your feedback.

Getting PR coverage takes time and effort, and it might not be worth it for your crowdfunding campaign. However, if you give yourself enough time and carefully think everything through before you do it, you might be able to get some positive coverage that helps your company grow. Be sure to read more about PR to help you decide whether or not PR is a good choice for your campaign. And whether you have questions about PR or any other part of the crowdfunding process, we’re happy to meet with you to discuss your project!

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