Press attention. It’s a two-word phrase that you’ve either been dreading or haven’t thought about at all. Either way, it’s very important that you be prepared to get press for your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign.
When you first launch your campaign, getting the attention of the press will be one of the biggest obstacles and the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ payoffs available to you. The press can make or break a campaign, so you’d better get started as soon as possible.
Fortunately, we’ve prepared a list of tips to help you get more attention from the press.
1. Start Small
It might seem counterintuitive, but you should start small with your attempts. Don’t go shotgunning emails to the big league media organizations. Sure, one of them might pick up your story for broadcast, but the odds are small unless you have amazing connections.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry – we have a strategy for getting big name press in tip number eleven.
But if you start small, you can get the attention of the bigger fish later. It might not seem like it to casual viewers of large media corporations, but the larger ones rely on the smaller ones to source their information. They scan through the lower-level stories and pick out information and stories from there. Those lower level organizations, in turn, scan the levels below them, all the way down to the bottom. These news outlines can sometimes as small as the neighborhood newspaper office run out of a garage.
Aim to get your press attention from someone small and work your way up to the next level. When that upper level goes looking for good content, they’ll find someone else has already covered your campaign, and that will increase the likelihood of them covering it, too. And the cycle continues until, ideally, you hit the big international media.
2. Pitch the Story
No one wants to hear from a PR copy-and-paste machine. Especially not journalists. Therefore, do not send the same basic release to every journalist you can find. Instead, try pitching your story. Tell the press about the struggles you’ve had to overcome and how they’ve shaped you. Sell your project to them like they sell their reports to you: as stories, not PR jargon. Do this effectively and you’ll be swimming in attention.
We talk in detail about the elements of a sticky story in our article on how to create a Kickstarter video.
3. Research, Research, Research
Research may be the most dreaded part of the campaign for most people. But it shouldn’t be. You should embrace the research portion from the beginning because it can and will save you migraines, pain relievers, and more research down the line.
The most important content to research is the journalist you plan to contact and their work’s themes. See if they write or have written articles in the niche of your campaign. If they haven’t, they may be less interested in your story.
If your project is outside their main topics, the journalist shouldn’t fall off your media list. But you should wait to contact them rather than reaching out immediately. Instead, go to the most promising journalists first and see what they have to say. If they already write about your niche, you’re much more likely to have positive, initial attention.
To manage your media list, write down the journalist’s name, contact information, niche and priority ranking in a spreadsheet. If you need a press tracking outreach spreadsheet, we’ve created one here. You can make a copy for free.
4. Pitch it Now
You should pitch to the media as soon as you possibly can and then repeat on the day before and day of the launch.
If you take the word ‘News’ and drop the “s” you are just left with ‘New’. That’s right, people don’t care if your campaign is old. It has to be new! The media wants timely, news-worthy stories to share with their audience.
That being said, there is a paradox where larger media outlets will not want to cover your story unless other media has already has done so. In addition, the press timeline may not match your own timeline. Some organizations might not publish for weeks or even months, so the sooner you can get to them the sooner they can get you the attention you’ll need.
5. The Influencer Needs Attention too
Ah, the influencer. The influencer might seem like an intimidating persona, but usually, they’re not. In fact, they’re a very good place to start pitching. Journalists and other major news personalities typically follow influencers closely. This is because influencers are, as their title suggests, very influential.
If you do get an influencer on board with your campaign, you’re already going to get a lot of views from their followers even without the attention of the press. So it’s a win-win situation for you.
6. Avoid Major Events if at all Possible
This one might seem like either a no-brainer or bad planning. But it’s a crucial consideration.
If at all possible, avoid major events like the Super Bowl or a Presidential Election weekend. These events will almost guarantee that your story will be drowned out in all the buzz of the major event. The flood of stories will keep your story suppressed and, at the very least, force you to work harder later down the road to pitch your stuff a second time. If you have a short time limit on your campaign, do your best to plan with these events in mind.
7. Use Amazing Photos and Videos
Whatever you do, don’t forget those all-important photos and videos. Media can more easily sell something to the public with a good photo or video than with words (even if they use a thousand of them). Photos and videos are a cornerstone of media, especially in the digital age, so make sure you include visual content.
Additionally, make sure the photos and videos are very high quality. Don’t go around using a cell phone camera taped to a stick to take your campaign shots. A horrible photo says a thousand negative words and a horrible video says more than 30,000 negative words per second.
8. Have Clear Contact Information
Contact information may be lost in the clutter of contacting the press, but it’s one of the most important points. No journalist is going to write about even the most amazing invention of all time if they don’t know who made it or how to contact them. They need to verify that this story is the real deal. Each article is a reflection of their personal brand and the last thing they want to do is promote a Kickstarter scam.
While you might think it would be obvious for the journalist to visit your campaign page to decide whether to write the story or not, they’re actually unlikely to do that. Reading all of that information and picking the pieces they need takes time. Journalists have busy schedules and are trying to compress as much information dissemination as possible into their work hours. A quick email or phone call to you to summarize is much more effective for them.
So, always include your (correct!) contact information with your outreach. It’ll save you a lot of headaches (or missed opportunities) in the future.
9. Allow Press to Write a Review
Product reviews may be the least obvious part of getting media attention. However, it’s the part that is most likely to make your campaign work.
It can be hard or costly to make a ton of review copies, but it will be worth your time to do so. Offering reviews affords the journalists you contact with the opportunity to try your product with little risk. In addition, it has the added effect of making their review and story more accurate and valuable.
Be sure to plan for those review copies. The preparation will help your outreach both in the short and long runs.
10. Create a Press Kit
Ah, the dreaded press kit. It’s probably the bane of crowdfunding campaign first-timers’ existence, and certainly not among the most-loved aspects of veteran crowdfunders. For all the time and effort, however, it offers big rewards.
The press kit allows you to collect all the essential content you need into one easy-to-find location. Once prepared, you can then quickly and easily send to those who need to see it. That’s actually its entire function.
Fortunately, we’ve written about press kits before you can learn what to put in your press kit here.
11. How to get Big Press
To get big press, you first need to first get small press as noted in Tip #1. Collect the stories from the small media organizations and include them with your outreach to the larger organizations. This supplement may catch their eye and get you the bigger story you’re after.
12. Stick Out
To be noticed in the sea of crowdfunding campaigns, you have to stick out from the crowd. Make sure you highlight what makes your campaign different from other ones. Don’t be afraid to be a bit jarring. Look at other successful campaigns and you can see how they made a splash. If you want to be noticed, don’t be normal. Think outside the box.
13. Build Relationships
Building relationships with reports will be a big help when it comes time to get articles published.
I’m going to be blunt. Everyone will tell you to “build relationships” but it’s really hard to do.
Reporters know what you are trying to do. Unless you have a natural conversation starter, it is a bit awkward.
Here are a few tips to how to build relationships:
- Follow and interact on social media
- Comment on their articles
- Send helpful tips (whether they are connected to your campaign or not)
- Go to events where press will be
- Help to distribute their work
14. Write a Press Release
It might seem old school but a press release is still an important document to have prepared. If your campaign goes viral, you don’t have time to respond to every inquiry and the release covers all the key points. It’s also a great exercise in structuring your thoughts and understanding the most important features of your story for the media.
15. Track Your Results
To understand and replicate your successes, make sure to track your media results. Figure out what channels are best for driving actual donors. It is more important to get press that generates donations than simply views. Use the built-in analytics dashboard in your crowdfunding platform to see which articles and platforms perform best.
16. Use new Social Media Channels
Since Kickstarter was founded in 2009, a lot has changed in the social media landscape. These changes mean many great articles about crowdfunding have outdated advice.
I have tried to focus on keeping a small number of articles continually updated. There are great social media channels that didn’t even exist in 2009.
Don’t be afraid to use these newer social media sites:
- Pinterest (launched 2010)
- Quora (launched 2010)
- Snapchat (2011)
- Google + (2011) Don’t laugh there are active groups on Google Plus
- Periscope Livestream (2015)
- Instagram Stories and Video (2017)
- Kickstarter Live (2017)
Press are not only on Facebook and Twitter. Look to find influencers in these networks that may not be as well known as reporters with major publications. Pinterest has many users with millions of followers in specific niches.
17. Start Early – It Pays Dividends
It takes a lot of time to get really good press. Start early and you will thank yourself later.
18. Don’t Lie
Don’t overpromise, don’t stretch the truth, don’t lie. Inaccurate information is an easy way to get in hot water and lose credibility with the media (and your supporters). Press publications are putting their reputation on the line with every article they publish. Make sure you are intriguing but truthful about how you portray your campaign.
19. Call in Favors
If you know someone who knows someone whose brother works at Techcrunch, it might be worth a shot to get in touch with them about your campaign. If there ever was a time to call in a favor, it is now.
20. Budget Time for Press Outreach
You will be surprised at how much time it takes to do press outreach. You need to do research, actually send correspondence, and then reply and followup. Make sure to budget a little time every day to work on getting press. It is a process and will take time.
An alternative is to hire a PR firm or virtual assistant to do outreach on your behalf. If you have time, I would recommend doing the outreach yourself for a personal touch.
There are some good outreach tools to make your job a bit easier. We listed them in our Kickstarter Tools Guide.
21. Don’t Fear Rejection
A lot of people will not open your email. Don’t be discouraged. This is a numbers game. Make sure to set a goal for the number of emails you want to send each day. Know ahead of time that only a small percentage of journalist will actually get back to you. Of those journalists, an even smaller number will publish an article. It’s part of the game – there’s no way around it!
22. Try Forums to Kickstart Noise
Your niche may have forums where passionate users talk about your content. They are often monitored by influencers in the space. It is a good idea to post in forums through your project process and get feedback on your idea.
The key here is to not pitch too hard. Many moderators will block you if your first post is simply promotional. It is best to register, contribute to a few threads, read the posting guidelines and then look at making a post. Make sure it has discussion value and is not 100% self-promotional.
23. You’re a Human – So Use Tools
There are great tools for managing your press outreach. I listed many of them in my updated crowdfunding tools list.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Just Reach Out is a platform which allows you to find and reach out to journalists and bloggers in your space. It helps you search for and pitch stories that are relevant to the journalist. They also allow you to scan through Quora and Reddit posts to find the most relevant threads. When you do send an email, they are all tracked so you can see whether or not the contact has opened the email. The tool makes it easy to organize your media contacts into lists.
BuzzSumo allows you to find the most popular content on the internet after putting in a keyword. You can use this tool to find reporters who have written about similar topics before. Then you can contact them directly and pitch your campaign.
Pitchbox offers a similar outreach platform. They have easy-to-use tools for finding and contacting new influencers. They provide powerful tracking and statistics which help to see what pitch is working best. However, it is an investment starting at $195 a month.
24. Great Photos
Make sure your photos are incredible. The press needs something visual to add to their article or post. If you don’t have a friend that is a photographer, consider hiring a professional off of Craigslist. Terrific images are just one of the keys to creating an amazing press kit.
25. Create an Awesome Video
The video is often the first thing that a potential reporter will watch. Make sure your video communicates your entire story. I put together a 2,000+ word step-by-step guide on how to create a DIY Kickstarter Video.
26. Offer an Exclusive
You can try to entice the press by offering an exclusive interview or allow them to publish their article first. This is a bit of a gamble, so I would recommend offering them an interview with the founder.
27. Don’t Be Desperate
Don’t beg and plead for press. It looks unprofessional and is an easy way to get a reporter to hit the “delete” button. Make sure to be confident in your campaign. Sending last ditch press emails is not a good use of your time.
28. Use Your Press for Social Proof
Once you get some press, you want to use that as social proof. Put the logos on your crowdfunding page and update as you get more press. Once you get a few significant organizations that cover your story, you will find many other large organizations will cover you.
29. Hire an Agency or Freelancer
There are great agencies and freelancers that focus on helping crowdfunding campaigns. There are also a group of people selling snake oil. I think it is best to self-educate yourself in the strategy so you know who you need to hire.
Make sure to check references and call past clients. It is easy to promise a successful campaign but much harder to deliver.
Some agencies or freelancers offer to take a job for a lower fee and then get a percent of the total amount raised. This can help reduce the cost for you and better align their goals with yours. Just make sure that they must also meet a list of pre-defined activities to collect their percent.
30. Follow Up
Make sure to follow up in every stage of the process. Respond to media inquiries immediately. Follow-up with additional or new information. If an article is in-process, ask if the journalist knows when the article will go live or if there is anything else they need from you.
You want to keep the process moving without nagging. The key here is to be helpful and not annoying.
Well, that’s it for now. A nice tidy list of 30 items to get the press attention you need to for a successful campaign. It might seem intimidating at first, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to the top 2% of crowdfunding campaigns.