3 Ways Direct-to-Consumer Brands Can Leverage Media Coverage
How to make your DTC PR dollars go further, decrease conversion friction and keep customers loyal.
Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands have to stay visible in order to stay competitive, and that often means the need for a considerable advertising budget. Public relations can be a DTC secret weapon, however, provided the resulting media coverage is “sticky” and increases consumer trust. The hitch is that coverage for DTC brands is incredibly competitive, yet there are proven ways of making an earned media budget work overtime.
Spread the link love
I've yet to come across a DTC brand that doesn't have an affiliate program, and they continue to grow in value as browsers restrict data and influencers incorporate affiliate links as part of their compensation. Few DTC brands, however, also consider how affiliate links can improve their chances at PR.
Media outlets are under increasing pressure to find new revenue avenues as advertising dollars become more and more splintered, and so many outlets are using affiliate links in their product round-up coverage. Occasionally, you’ll see posts like "Top Products on Amazon", which are almost always a list of products with affiliate links. Amazon's affiliate program is a favorite because the company’s links convert very well. One takeaway from this is to optimize your landing pages for conversion and use your best-converting pages for PR pitches regularly. Also, be sure to activate your media coverage with affiliate links; the outlets will appreciate your support, and you'll increase your chances of securing earned coverage.
Repurpose and repeat
When a DTC brand receives media coverage, share the news! Sure, you can (and should) use PR coverage in your social media advertising, as it's a fantastic way of introducing yourself to new customers, but don't stop there: leverage two of the most powerful tools in the PR belt, namely reviews and personal recommendations. Your current customers should also know about your press coverage, too, so send them the news with a link to share it with friends. Doubling your influence with a personal recommendation from an existing customer, along with a trusted media source, is an additional fantastic way of converting new customers.
Remember, your owned content will always be important, so share the details of coverage on your blog that mirrors the journalist's point of view on your product, and link back to the article, as well.
Occasionally, DTC brands say they don't want to share coverage that includes competitors. While there are various ways around this, be mindful that consumers actually trust a well-rounded review that mentions multiple brands over a simply promotional one. This is especially true for younger consumers who tend to be more media savvy, having grown up in a world where reviews are part of everyday life. Also keep in mind that earned coverage is sticky; unlike ads, you can count on most being there for a long time. Some of your DTC media coverage will be evergreen, and some will tie into a calendar event or holiday, so keep a running list of your coverage so you can use it over and over.
Monitor search trends
Modern publishers are savvy about SEO trends. Google has changed how it surfaces product reviews, because it knows consumers often Google a product before purchasing and want the best reviews to be easy to find. Savvy brands help journalists create excellent reviews, knowing the search pay-off is worth the extra effort.
Google also looks at the article itself for expert knowledge, as well as comparable products and quantitative measurements about how a product measures up. So, when DTC brands send samples to journalists, they should be incorporating tip sheets that help journalists write factual, authoritative articles that improve their visibility. (As mentioned above, expect articles that include other products, even competitors.) Google has lots of places for promotional content and constantly updates signals, but one thing it has been consistent about is the need for high-quality content that is not promotional, but helpful, insightful and educational.
Bonus tip: integrate
Modern, digitally forward PR agencies understand how to maximize the above opportunities, so make sure your PR firm is collaborating with the in-house ecommerce team. When they work together, magic happens, especially for DTC brands. For example, when a brand leverages existing retail outlets, PR can work on ways to make the launch notable and word-of-mouth-worthy. Collaboration is the name of the game, and will give you an edge in maximizing earned media opportunities.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor