In her book Cash From the Crowd, Sally Outlaw, founder and CEO of crowdfunding website peerbackers, reveals the secrets of funding your business with help from colleagues, peers, family, friends and even perfect strangers through a crowdfunding campaign. In this edited excerpt, the author offers tips for getting the press to cover your crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding projects that generate strong press not only benefit from additional backing but also build brand awareness. As a result, they can receive additional opportunities, such as offers of mentorship, investment and strategic alliances. You'll want to invest a fair amount of time--in as far in advance as possible--researching and reaching out to relevant bloggers and other media professionals.
One important tip: Don't separately email multiple journalists at the same publication. It's one way to lose credibility and interest; writers don't want to learn that you're simultaneously pitching others at their company. If you doubt your abilities to develop media relationships or you don't have the time to devote to the process, you can outsource this bit of outreach to a marketing or PR company.
Even though compiling an effective media list is time-consuming, you can outsource the research. Try freelancers through services like Elance and Zirtual to find the blogs and writers related to your project. You can still have a hand in the process by reviewing all the media outlets that are compiled to check which ones you'd like to prioritize and which to ignore as not as relevant as you'd like.
And don't dismiss the idea of picking up the phone first and trying to directly reach an editor or associate editor, depending on the size of the media outlet, especially if you've identified more than one writer who would be appropriate for your story. Because editors are often the ones to delegate story coverage, they're probably the best ones to tell you which reporter might fit your topic.
One free press resources is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). It's an online service that connects reporters to sources who can help with their stories, and you can be that source. They basically deliver media opportunities to your inbox three times a day. You can read the daily alerts.and look for stories that relate to your expertise and to the topic of your crowdfunding campaign and then respond to the reporters.
Don't forget to reach out to your social networks with tweets and Facebook posts asking for connections to the media you most want to reach. You may be surprised who has the relationships you need.
- Create a media list of all the specific journalists who cover your topic and with whom you want to connect. There's very little benefit in sending a press release or email to a generic inbox hoping it will find its way to the appropriate person. Include the journalist's email address, when you can find it, as well as Twitter handle. Read journalists' articles to ensure the reporter is the best fit for your story.
- Follow your media prospects on Twitter. Not only can you then more easily scan the stories they cover to ensure a topical fit, but sometimes reporters will seek story sources via their Twitter feeds as well. Also, you may be able to direct message them if they follow you back.
- Find out how much traffic each blog gets via TrafficEstimate or other sources, and also research whether they have other opportunities such as e-newsletters or social media channels to promote your story.
- Don't make editors work hard to help you. Create your press assets in advance: press release, high-resolution photos, and a list of key points that you feel are most compelling to communicate about your project. Don't forget to include a screenshot of your campaign in progress.
- Don't send the same email to every journalist. You want them to know you understand their audience and style, and why your product or campaign is a good fit for their readers.
- Don't be a pest, but if you don't get a response from the first email or outreach, one follow-up email or call is appropriate.
- Don't forget offline outreach. In an effort to get press, one entrepreneur made an appearance at a local bookstore and literally drew a 20-mile circle on the map around their appearance location. They then contacted all the news stations and papers within that radius to get them to cover the event because journalists are more likely to cover a story if there's a local angle.
You can also use services such as PR Newswire to create and distribute press releases about your campaign or venture. In order to track the buzz about your company during your campaign -- and beyond -- set up Google Alerts for your company or product name. These free alerts monitor the online mentions you request and notify you when they happen. This way you can catch any press coverage during your campaign and ensure you maximize it by quickly thanking the journalist and re-tweeting the mention.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Sally Outlaw, a crowdfund junkie, is the co-founder and CEO of fundraising platform peerbackers.com and crowdfunding media company Crowdcast Network. She's the author of Cash From the Crowd (Entrepreneur Press, 2013) and speaks nationally on the topic of crowdfinance and the JOBS Act.