Synopsis: Crowdfunding is all about getting maximum exposure from the right audience. Follow these steps to engage with journalists, build relationships with them, and get them to feature your equity crowdfunding press release.
Startups and growing companies can never have too much exposure, and this is especially true when they are crowdfunding. The more people who hear about your company, the greater the number of visitors that stand to check out your website and/or crowdfunding offer page.
Once they are there, those people will be watching your promotional video, reading through your pitch, and learning more about your product or service. No matter which way you look at it, this is invaluable… even if they don’t become an investor, they might still become a customer!
Remember, the potential for extra exposure is one of the key reasons for doing equity crowdfunding in the first place. Some startups and growing companies even say that the attention they receive from crowdfunding is even more valuable than the money raised. Anything to get your name in front of new customers, suppliers and collaborators is well worth it. Equity crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity to get your business in the spotlight.
Journalists hold the keys to many of the eyeballs you will want to reach. If a journalist features your equity crowdfunding campaign as a story, you’ll be able to gain exposure to a vast new crowd. The trouble is, you aren’t the only one to have this bright idea! Every week, journalists are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds of requests from crowdfunding campaigns looking for free publicity. They have learned to screen most of them out as quickly as spam from their email inbox.
But don’t give up! It just means that: you need to be better than the competition. This is not as hard as it sounds. Most of the competition are terrible with their equity crowdfunding press release efforts. You can beat them – believe me. Follow these 8 steps, and your equity crowdfunding press release will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
1. Focus On Relevant, Niche Publications
While it might feel like an ego-boost to get your company into Forbes magazine, trying for a publication like this is probably not going to be time well spent.
For one thing, journalists at the big-name publications are far more overwhelmed. Everyone wants to get featured in Forbes, so you’re facing a lot more competition. It’s a lot easier to get airtime with the journalists at more niche publications.
Additionally, the smaller audiences of niche publications tend to be a lot more targeted. This is a good thing. Exposure in a well-chosen niche publication will be a lot more likely to convert. For example, say that your company sells organic soap. An article featured in a special magazine focused on natural, organic products might get only 1/10th of the views (vs. a bigger publication), but the readers could be as much as 100x as likely to be interested in investing in a company like yours.
Don’t be seduced by the pure volume of traffic. Instead, focus on traffic that converts. Work on getting publicity in places where your “crowd” is already likely to be. Look to get in front of specialized, rather than generalized audiences.
2. Build A Relationship With The Journalist, First
Question: How effective is an equity crowdfunding press release likely to be, if it is the very first time that the journalist has heard of you? Answer: Not very.
Almost no-one bothers to build a relationship before they ask for something. Conservatively, over 95% of equity crowdfunding campaigns simply send through their press release, cold. If you treat the journalist as a real human being, and give before you ask, then they will recognize your name when your press release arrives in their inbox.
This places you far ahead of the vast majority of your competition.
How do you build a relationship with a journalist? Here are three ideas.
- If they have a blog, subscribe to it. Send them an email and leave a comment from time to time, complimenting them on their work.
- Share or like their articles on social media, making sure to include their profile handle so that they get notified that you helped increase their reach.
- If they live in your area, try to meet with them in person. If so, you can shake their hand, give them a business card, and have a chat with them. People are much more open to dealing with those they have already met in real life, than faceless messages in their email inbox.
3. Customize Your Equity Crowdfunding Press Release
Here is another thing that other equity crowdfunding press releases consistently get wrong. They write ONE release, and then send an identical copy to every journalist. I wrote before that journalists delete crowdfunding press releases, as if they were spam. That’s because a lot of crowdfunding press releases are spam. After all, the very definition of spam is: a single message sent indiscriminately to lots and lots of people without any customization.
You can do better.
Take the time to craft a release which is specific to the publication and the journalist you contacting. What is their publication’s readership, and how does your crowdfunding press release match with that? What’s the angle?
Yes, customization takes effort, but it’s a lot more effective than having your press release deleted along with the rest.
If you have too many journalists to send an individual message to, at the very least come up with a few versions. Perhaps have half-a-dozen variations on your crowdfunding press release, which you can send to different journalists from similarly-pitched publications.
4. Make It Obvious What Your Company Does
Too often, journalists find startups to be incomprehensible. This may or may not be a problem in your specific case, depending on whether your product or service is something reasonably straightforward (say, craft beer) or not (most software-as-a-service companies make a journalist’s head spin, for instance). If your brand name is something abstract, it’s all-the-more important to make sure the journalist can easily come to grips with what your company does.
It will help to compare your company to another, better-known one. For example, “We’re like Gmail, but we don’t run advertising.”, or “We’re like Airbnb, but only for elderly people.” This will help the journalist quickly get to grips with who you are and what you do, rather than ignore your crowdfunding press release in a haze of confusion.
5. Be Easily Contactable
One of the golden rules of journalism is to never miss a deadline. Professional journalists take this very seriously, and aren’t going to wait around on someone else’s schedule when they have their editor breathing down their neck. When on-deadline, journalists need to reach their source immediately. Not next week, not tomorrow – right this minute. If they phone you, you need to pick up. They won’t leave an answer-phone message – they’ll just move on to the next source on their list.
The lesson here is to keep your phone with you, and keep it turned on when you are doing your equity crowdfunding press release outreach. If instead the journalist sends an email, respond to it quickly. It could be the difference between getting your campaign featured, and not.
6. Make Your Release Short And Snappy
You might think that because journalists deal in the written word, they would be amenable to a detailed equity crowdfunding press release, but nothing could be further from the truth. They would much rather digest a short, to-the-point release than parse through multiple pages. In fact, if it’s too long, they probably won’t read it at all.
Journalists are stressed, busy people. There are dozens of other emails sitting in their inbox awaiting their attention, and they don’t have time to spend too long on yours.
The other benefit of a short equity crowdfunding press release is it gives you much more control over what will end up being included in the final publication. A journalist might quote almost any part of a long press release – and perhaps not the part you want. But if you give them a short press release, they won’t have much choice over the material to include. Be disciplined over your release, and make sure it only contains key facts and emotional hooks. A strong press release is a filler-free zone.
7. Write Their Headline For Them
Attention-grabbing headlines are more important than ever. So much of journalism has shifted online, where everything is measurable and a journalist’s job performance is now judged (at least in part) by whether the headline of the article gets readers to click on it. Journalists don’t like to admit it, but quality of the content beyond the headline has almost become secondary.
Do this critical task for them by writing a compelling headline – one which will make them look good in front of their superiors. Not only will your equity crowdfunding campaign get more attention, but you’ll have a journalist who wants to be your new best friend.
How do you write a compelling headline? Three ideas:
- Relate it to something topical which has been in the news recently. If everyone is talking about the Football World Cup, or the Royal Wedding, or the United States Election, it can be effective to piggy-back on an already-trending topic.
- Look at related Google pay-per-click advertisements. Because people running Google Adwords campaigns are paying real money every click, they pay very close attention to optimizing every word of their headline. Use the money they have spent to your advantage, by simply looking at what they have come up with. Do a few Google searches and you’ll start to notice recurring themes for what’s attention-grabbing.
- Look at the headlines of websites like Buzzfeed. Though these so-called “click-bait” sites may have content which is of questionable quality at times, there is no doubt that they have mastered the science of getting the click. A few minutes on Buzzfeed will reveal headlines with phrases like “You Need To Know”, “The Ultimate Guide”, and “Right Now”. Apply what has been proved to work, to your own headline.
8. Maintain The Relationship
If your equity crowdfunding press release gets featured, congratulations! But, your job isn’t over. Continue to nurture the relationship with the journalist well after your crowdfunding offer has been and gone.
- Keep sharing their work (step 2 from this list).
- Keep working to be their ‘go-to source’ for issues related to your industry (step 5 from the list).
- Ask if they have friends at other publications. Journalists tend to know lots of other journalists.
You might want to go to the crowd again someday. Even if not, you’ll definitely want to get publicity at some point – for a future product launch, or other event. By making a journalist’s life easier, you will be able to count on them to feature you and your company to reach their crowd with your message when the time comes.