Should you invest in PR for your crowdfunding campaign?

PR can be helpful but it's not for everyone. Should you invest?

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Mark Pecota | CEO at LaunchBoom

When you think about the possibility of using PR as part of your crowdfunding campaign, you likely already have some ideas in your head of what that means. Maybe you’ve dreamed about the returns it could bring, or perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about PR campaigns gone wrong. You might be wondering: is it worth it for me to bring in a PR firm for my campaign?

The short answer is that it really depends on the kind of campaign you’re running and the long-term goals you have in mind. Read on for the longer answer!

What is PR for?

PR is a way to bring awareness at the top of the sales funnel. This means that it’s not always—or even often—the best direct sales channel. It may generate some sales for you, but it’s not going to work like advertising, where you can directly track the return on your investment.

It’s also a good way to gain credibility. Third-party media is still highly trusted, and getting good coverage in media outlets that are relevant to your product category can be very useful in getting people to trust you and your company.

One of the biggest benefits of PR is that it can bring in opportunities that you might not otherwise get. Media coverage can attract potential investors and future partners. While those aren’t directly trackable like sales revenue, the value they bring can be more than worth the investment.

Possible drawbacks to consider

It’s no secret that PR can have a bit of a bad reputation. There are no guarantees with PR; it’s difficult if not impossible to control, and problems can arise during the process that can damage your campaign. You have to earn the media that you get; you’re not buying articles, and you can’t control what is published about your product or your company. You may be able to influence the process, but the writer and editor of the publication get the final say. PR isn’t advertising.

A good PR firm is going to cost both time and money, and it’s very resource intensive. The PR campaign will start 6-8 weeks before your crowdfunding launch. It will probably take the PR firm 90-100 hours of time over that period. This will likely end up ranging from $7,000-$20,000 for a crowdfunding project, depending on your goals.

The effects of your PR campaign will also be hard to quantify. The media coverage you get can expose you to potential investors or partners, but it’s unlikely to lead to direct, trackable sales numbers. You can measure the return on your ad spend, but you can’t measure the worth of an inbound investment inquiry. There’s no precise way to count what a partnership request is worth to you. The long-term benefits of using PR with your crowdfunding campaign can be huge, but it’s impossible to assign a dollar value to the benefit.

When should you include PR as part of your approach—and when shouldn’t you?

PR is going to have the biggest impact on your company if you have a realistic chance of raising over $120,000 with your crowdfunding campaign. Simply put, smaller projects tend to not be worth the risk and the fees that PR will bring with it.

The other big factor in deciding if PR is for you has to do with your goals beyond this campaign. PR is a brand-building exercise for the long term. If your aim is to crowdfund one product and then move on, then PR isn’t a good tool for you. If your long-term plans include more product launches and a sustained ecommerce presence, then PR could be a great investment.

You won’t see a benefit from investing in PR if you’re on the verge of launching your campaign. A good PR firm will need about six weeks to get everything into place for your launch. If you’re planning to do it yourself, plan on an 8-10 week lead time to get it right. You might think that you don’t need that much time, but doing it right and ramping it up in the right time frame could mean the difference between hitting your fundraising goal and missing the mark.

PR isn’t for the faint of heart; you need an element of risk tolerance to make the leap. Though it can come with big rewards, there’s no riskier way to spend your money than on a PR campaign. Therefore, if you don’t want to take a lot of risks or if you don’t have a budget that allows for some risky investments, it’s much wiser to spend your money elsewhere.

PR also isn’t for you if you don’t have a community already in place. The media won’t give you the coverage you want—or, often any coverage at all—if you don’t have an audience that will engage with you. You need to have momentum on your own before PR will be effective in any way. Think about it: if you don’t have anyone to market to, then throwing money into a PR campaign won’t bring you anything in return.

Working with a PR firm is a high-risk, high-reward strategy that needs careful consideration with each campaign. Good PR hits can lead to great ad content that a crowdfunding agency like LaunchBoom can use to generate more traffic (and more backers!), but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the entirely positive, energetic coverage that you dream about. If you’re thinking about using PR as part of your pre-launch strategy, watch our webinar on PR or get in touch with us today to discuss your project and your options.

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