By now, we all have been asked to contribute to some Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe or other crowdfunding campaign. Just yesterday I contributed to a fund to help my Boston-based nephew get himself and peers to a national trumpet competition in Denver. With most crowdfunding the basic approach is outreach to friends, family, customers, and individual investors to help raise money for a specific project. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals primarily online, through social media and crowdfunding platforms, and leverages those networks for greater reach and exposure.
There has been some debate about whether public relations can add value to these type of funding campaigns and I am here to say that yes, PR can help to spread the word and drive traffic to the site. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you tackle the public relations component of a crowdfunding campaign.
K is for kick it into high gear. Kickstarter campaigns require all hands on deck. You and your team will need to put in more time than usual in advance of a campaign going live. While media relations tends to be an activity where the heavy lifting happens in advance of a launch or special event, this is more so with crowdfunding initiatives. And it will be all hands on deck for the length of the campaign. Researching reporters, developing story ideas, pitching, follow-up, updating, it’s an intense 30 days (on average) so be prepared.
I is for integration. Neither crowdfunding campaigns or media relation efforts should stand-alone. From messaging and timing to new features and stretch goals, all of this should be discussed with PR in mind. As the campaign unfolds, it’s PR’s job to spread the word about funding, positive reviews and stretch goals so it’s imperative PR is integrated into the decision-making loop.
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C is for chatter: From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Instagram, you want people from all corners talking and writing about the campaign and then talking some more. Take time to post positive quotes and funding goals throughout the campaign to keep the chatter current.
K is for killing it on social media. (See chatter.) Also consider ads on Facebook or sponsored posts on Twitter that can help boost exposure for relevant audiences in appropriate industry verticals.
S is for stretch goals. Stretch goal milestones give reasons to go back to the media, reach out to new outlets and energize backers.
T is for timing: Timing is everything with crowdfunding. Carefully plan the release of information (embargoed and public), the campaign kick-off and subsequent stretch goals to make sure all campaign components sync-up in order to capture the most traffic.
A is for advice: Don’t go into a campaign blindly. Talk to peers that have had PR success with crowdfunding. Pick their brain about timing, strategies and tactics. This is not the time to be a know it all.
R is for being reasonable. The PR team should make it clear that press coverage is not a guarantee of increased donations. Press will bring more exposure and brand awareness, but locking in donations requires a sustained effort on many fronts.
T is for target. Public Relation practitioners know whom to target. In addition to targeting the usual suspects of friends and family to gain early momentum, PR can target key media outlets to gain visibility. Dream big with national outlets but don’t forget that local press can lead to bigger opportunities. Local press tend to root for the hometown kid does good angle so make sure not to overlook these outlets.
E is for embargo: Getting details out to the media in advance can help them develop their story. Ideally, the story then releases when the campaign goes live, and boom, there should be some campaign noise.
R is for resilience. Honestly crowdfunding campaigns can kick even the most seasoned PR butt. Running in high gear for the duration of the campaign can be stressful. As the campaign continues to grow, stretch goals keep getting crushed and the media begins to hit and move the needle, remember to breathe and reward yourself for your hard work.