By Lexie Smith, Founder, THEPRBAR inc.
I want to start things off by taking you back and setting the scene for three distinct moments in my career.
First up: I watched as they wiped away tears from their eyes and embraced each other in a tight celebratory emotion-filled “omg – we did it” hug! Staring back at them from their computer screen read the words “fully funded.”
Second: When they first approached me, they had $6,000 pulled together so far. If they could only raise $14,000 more then they could fulfill the minimum order quantity with their manufacturer. 409 backers later they passed $35,000 on Kickstarter.
Third: They called and said their goal was $15,000 and they had zero advertising budget. They passed $200,000 in less than 30-days by crowd-funding.
What did all “they” have in common? They were my clients, and they used public relations (PR) to successfully hit their crowd-funding goals. I’ve had many career highs in the last decade but I swear there is nothing that quite beats watching an entrepreneur realize that others believe in their vision. In fact, not only did others believe in their idea, they rallied to support and fund it. It’s an almost indescribable moment…and guess what, that can be you.
Now once you have all the critical technicalities in place, there is a right way and a wrong way to market and publicize your campaign. Here are the Top 5 Crowd-funding PR Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)
Mistake #1: Not having a PR plan
This may seem rudimentary, but I just want to make it crystal clear that not having a PR plan in place when you’re crowd-funding is a huge mistake. Why? It’s a missed opportunity to gain organic traction and eyeballs on your campaign. And by organic, I mean free. Earned PR, unlike advertising, is free people! If you don’t see the value in PR, you probably don’t fully understand what is it is. Feel free to learn more about PR and how it can help your business here.
How to Avoid Mistake #1: Create a PR Plan
Mistake #2: Relying on a press release
More often than not, when I get on the phone with a potential crowd-funding client and ask them – “what is your PR strategy?” – they respond with, “we’re going to put out a press release.”
I then typically ask, “why?”
This question takes most people by surprise because what I’ve learned over the years, is that there is a common misconception that “doing PR” all centers around the “mighty-and-powerful” press release.
Guess what, I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case….well, not entirely.
Let me take a quick step back and address what the heck a press release even is for those of you not quite sure. A press release is an official statement issued to the media providing information on a particular subject matter. The two primary goals of a press release, in short, are to a) control the narrative and b) have said statement or news picked up by the media and shared with the public.
Now, the lesser-known truth behind publishing a press release on its own – unless you happen to be a large global conglomerate with a hefty media following (think Tesla, Apple, etc.) – is that it does NOT guarantee media pickup.
Let me repeat that.
Issuing a press release on its own, does not guarantee media pickup.
Ultimately, to execute an effective crowd-funding PR campaign, you’ll have to do far more than issuing a press release.
How to Avoid Mistake #2: Don’t just rely on a press release.
Mistake #3: Waiting too long to get started
Speaking of effective PR strategies, do NOT wait until a week before launch to begin outlining a plan. Why? Because here’s a peek at your pre-launch to-do list…
- Research then determine your target outlets
- Curate a strategic media list
- Build and establish relationships with target members of the media
- Research and create custom pitches for each journalist
- Decide whether or not you should write a press release
- If so, craft, and decide which wire service (if any) to use for distribution
- Create your media kit
- Strategize with editorial calendars
….the list goes on!
So basically what I’m getting at here is if you want to ensure you aren’t “winging” your PR strategy, start prep work at least 2-3 months ahead of time, if not more.
How to Avoid Mistake #3: Plan ahead – at a very minimum 2-3 months before campaign launch.
Mistake #4: Not getting objective
It can be very hard to be objective as a creator or founder of a new product or project (which is completely understandable by the way.) After all, you’ve put your blood, sweat, soul, and tears behind whatever it is you are bringing to market, and to you, it’s 100% worthy of news.
Unfortunately, however, (and please don’t hate me for saying this) the fact that you’ve worked really, really hard on something does not mean it’s actually “newsworthy” in the eyes of the media. To outline all the technicalities that one would learn in school that qualifies a story as newsworthy is too long to recap in this particular article. I am, however, going to leave you to stew on this…
Would you want to read your pitch? Would you even want to read the story? Get objective. I mean really get objective. I’m taking this quote from a recent article I read: “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.” Kevin Mcspadden, Time Magazine.
So, phone a friend…take a lap, and re-read your angle with fresh eyes—are you inspired? You should be, because if you aren’t, why the heck should anyone else be?
How to Avoid Mistake #4: Be objective and make sure you’re newsworthy.
Mistake #5: Not promoting your wins
Let’s say you’ve avoided all the above mistakes and you’ve executed a successful PR campaign that has resulted in media coverage.
First off, congrats!
Second, your work isn’t done, sorry. And here is where our #4 mistake comes into play…it’s now time to celebrate – and just celebrating at your desk or at home isn’t going to cut it. Instead, share the heck out of that press win.
Well first off, the more physical shares the piece gets the more it will help that specific article’s SEO. Ultimately, the more you promote this win, the more eyeballs that see it, the more people who know about your campaign! So basically, now is not the time to be humble and shy. It’s game-time, and it is your job to help promote your win!
How to Avoid Mistake #5: Promote your wins, dagnabbit!
You now know the Top 5 Crowdfunding PR Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Want to dive further into how to develop a comprehensive PR strategy? Learn all about my signature “Make Money with PR” program online here.
About Lexie Smith, Founder, THEPRBAR inc. THEPRBARinc.com | @THEPRBAR_incFrom winning Shark Tank brands, to some of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Companies in America, Lexie Smith, Founder of THEPRBAR inc., has helped countless companies and entrepreneurs gain accelerated success through the world of Public Relations. With more than 10 years of PR and Marketing experience, serving most recently as a VP of PR and Marketing of a high 8-figure industry disruptor, Smith has been recognized as “Top 20 in their 20s”, “Brilliant PR Experts under 30”, and “Top Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2020”. More importantly, however, her clients have been featured in outlets such as Forbes, Vogue, Oprah, Inc., Shark Tank, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNN, The LA Times, Shape Magazine, The Huffington Post, Wired…and many, many more. In 2019, Lexie founded THEPRBAR inc. – an online coaching brand and platform that teaches entrepreneurs how to expand their influence, impact, and revenue with PR.
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