How to create media buzz for your crowdfunding campaign
Five tips that can get the media to notice your project.
The media can be an important part of any successful crowdfunding campaign. Just one article posted in the right place can drive thousands of people to your crowdfunding page and make the difference between missing your target and reaching your goal.
Plan your campaign well in advance
“Many companies make the decision to run a campaign just four weeks before launch. That’s definitely not a good idea. You need way more time to prepare all your assets and orchestrate your strategy,” says Brian Rowe, an executive at Evolve PR, a Canadian public relations firm specializing in video games.
According to Rowe, who’s managed numerous crowdfunding media relations campaigns in recent years, it takes months of careful preparation to fine-tune the music, visuals, video and other critical game components you need to present to the media.
For Anne-Marie Caron, co-founder of Canidé, a communications agency specializing in SMEs and entrepreneurs, having a long lead time for launching your campaign gives you another big advantage: you can link your campaign to another event.
“You can start your fundraising campaign any time you decide. So it’s a good idea to link it to a current event that’s certain to get coverage in the mainstream media,” she says.
Target the right journalists
The months of preparation can also be used to carefully target the best journalists to contact for your campaign.
“The important thing is not to write to everyone. What really counts is reaching out to the right people,” says Jessica Chesney, director of communications at Command Partners, an agency specializing in crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
“The first thing you need to do is define the target customers for your product, and then speak to journalists covering that market,” she says. Anne-Marie Caron agrees totally. And specialized industry media take priority over national media, especially in the context of small businesses with limited resources to invest in media relations.
In certain sectors, like video games, you can expand your definition of what count as a journalist when it comes time to determine who to contact. For Brian Rowe, YouTube creators and online Twitch players could also exert a positive influence on your crowdfunding campaign, and should be seriously considered in your media choices.
Tell a good story
Keeping journalists interested in any crowdfunding campaign is a major challenge and one that becomes increasingly difficult week after week.
“Finding a good story is the hardest part of the job. It’s also the most important part,” says Jessica Chesney.
The strategy here varies from project to project. “The key is to find what your product offers that is new compared to what is already out there,” says Anne-Marie Caron. And if there isn’t anything new, the Canidé cofounder suggests tweaking the project to add something original before contacting the media. Again, the importance of planning your campaign well in advance cannot be overstated.
While the focus is generally on the product during presentations, your team itself may be very much worth promoting as well in some cases, according to Brian Rowe. “And in every case you must find out who is best to tell your story to. Very often in these cases, we’ll propose an interview with just one journalist who has a real interest for the matter in question,” he says.
Make contact with the media at just the right moment
Choosing the right time to contact the media is also crucial. Here, strategies differ, but the goal remains the same: to generate maximum impact without inundating journalists with your requests.
Jessica Chesney, for example, feels it’s important to contact reporters before the start of the campaign.
“First of all, you want to get on their radar,” the director of communications at Command Partners says. “So we’re sure they’ll see your message when it’s time to launch.”
Anne-Marie Caron also believes it’s a good idea to give a heads-up, at least to some journalists and influencers you know will be receptive to your project before you launch your campaign.
When it finally comes time to make a big splash, you might hold back a few days before re-contacting those you gave an advanced warning to. “So if after 48 hours or so you can say you’ve already had feedback from X number of people, or raised X amount of money, you’ll be showing them the relevance of the campaign you gave them a sneak preview to,” she said.
Make adjustments as you go along
Feedback you get as the campaign unfolds can also be used to adjust and tweak your message.
Reaching significant monetary targets can provide good opportunities for getting back to some journalists, who might then see your project in a new light.
An analysis of consumers participating in the campaign can also help in adjusting your marketing plan. “We run advertising campaigns on Facebook, and that gives us a lot of information about the kind of people interested in a project. Sometimes it allows us to redefine our target customers, and to contact other journalists accordingly,” says Jessica Chesney.
Conversely, a campaign that isn’t working can also mean that the angle journalists were given was not the right one. Re-evaluating how to present the project and targeting other media contacts should then be considered.
Again, the key is to avoid bombarding the media with requests. The last thing you want to do is alienate them and burn any bridges that could be very important when it comes time to eventually take your product to market, or maybe even run another crowdfunding campaign.