Jessica Morgan, founder, Carnsight Communications
Firstly, get ready to celebrate the coverage you achieve for your product. There’s no reason you, your business or your product can’t be featured in the media and even as a one-woman band you can still make an impact if you have an interesting story to tell. Read on for my seven top tips.
- What’s unique about your product?
You should be incredibly proud of your product, but it’s time to look at it objectively. What does your product offer that others don’t? What makes your product or range so special? Why should someone choose it over all others? Establishing this and distilling it down into a line or two is essential to be able to pitch it effectively, but it’s not always easy to do.
Whereas you might have space and time to talk about it online or on social media, you have less time to pitch a product in to a busy journalist. Getting to the crux of it quickly can be really powerful.
If you’re struggling with this, try explaining it out loud or discussing it with a friend or partner. Sometimes it’s easier this way, and they may also have ideas about the most impactful way to phrase it.
- What’s your story?
PR is all about telling stories. So, the background or story behind a brand or product is as important as the brand itself. How did you start your business or begin selling your product? Was there a lightbulb moment?
Think about some of your favourite online brands. One of mine is Abel and Cole, whose founder started off selling a farmer’s surplus potatoes door-to-door with his mum, before realising there was a market for full organic boxes.
As another example, a client’s business, Limewedge, was started by Chris Mead, who left his job in finance just before the pandemic hit. Realising his life was about to take a different turn, he thought back to his passion for cocktail-making and decided to create lockdown cocktail boxes which he started selling online. We were able to secure coverage for him in The Telegraph, Olive magazine and The Mirror based on his interesting story and strong product.
- Images are all-important
A good, high-resolution image can be the difference between being included in an article or not. Try not to skimp on images and always use a professional photographer if you can. It doesn’t have to be very expensive but it’s always a good investment. Beautiful, high resolution (which means 300dpi) colour images of the products as cut out shots (just the image with a plain background) and lifestyle shots (images of the product in situ) are really important.
As are images of you – either just you or the team, if you have one. If you can pay for some professional images that you like, you’ll be in a great position to promote yourself alongside your products, tell your own story and open yourself up to even more media opportunities.
- Be clear about your audience
Understanding who you’re trying to attract is fundamental for your PR targeting. Identifying some general demographics is helpful – such as 40 – 60-year-old men, based in the South West. Going one step further, personas can bring your audience to life. These are pen portraits of your target/s – such as “Sue is a 50-year-old teacher from Liverpool. She has a cat called Bob and two grown up children…” Once you have these, you can get a feel for what kinds of media your targets consume.
Also think who tends to buy your product – is it your end user or could it be a parent or partner? If so, always keep them in mind when you think about publications you’d like to appear in. A useful tip – search for “media packs” for a publication online. These are aimed at advertisers, but they also include audience information, including male/female split, circulation and geographical areas covered.
- Understand different media opportunities
As a product business, you might immediately think of appearing in gift guides and product round-ups, which could be great opportunities. But how about a double page spread interview on you and your products in a local glossy magazine? We recently helped floral wreath creator, Bramble & Velvet, to secure a lovely interview in a Cotswold glossy title and the images of the wreaths founder Belinda creates – alongside images of her – made it a particularly attractive piece for the editor.
There are a range of opportunities to promote what you do – from news stories, such as a new product launch, to being involved in a feature, which is a more in-depth piece around a particular subject. Don’t discount the business pages, which are still about telling stories. A large increase in sales of a particular product could be newsworthy not just locally but nationally. We saw this recently with toy retailer client, bopster, who we sold into the BBC to talk about Black Friday sales.
And understand that the journalist is interested in a good story, rather than in selling your product – so you may have to meet in the middle and talk about one aspect of your business or personal story if that’s what they’re writing about. For example, they might be interested in talking about the fact you’re a family business, rather than your full product range.
- An A – Z of media
You may have a publication in mind, or you may be open to ideas. A good way to get some inspiration is by looking where your competitors have been featured. And, don’t overlook local press. Being a local retailer is an angle in itself, giving journalists a reason to write about you.
National glossies often work up to six months in advance (that’s why the industry talks about Christmas in July – when journalists typically get invited to Christmassy press shows). Whereas online publications can have very quick turnarounds, so think about seasonality.
- Hitting the perfect pitch
Email could be the right way to make contact, but bear in mind journalists get hundreds of emails a day, so you can always stand out by sending information through the post. That’s also a good way to provide samples, which could be a great investment if you’re sending to a national publication.
Always try and find the right person to pitch to rather than emailing a general newsroom address, if you can. A good way to do this is to find editorial contacts and look at what kind of things they’re writing about. While a reporter is interested in news stories, a features writer is interested in more in-depth, longer pieces. In smaller publications the editor might cover everything.
When you find the right person, check they’re still active by searching for recent news or looking on LinkedIn or Twitter. Journalists move around frequently. And when you’re pitching, keep it short and to the point. Include what’s unique about the product and a summary of your story. You can embed a small image but try and send large images through a link, as journalists may not trust attachments from people they haven’t heard from before.
So there’s the steps to take to make your product famous. Don’t lose heart if it doesn’t happen straight away. Research and persistence pays off. Good luck!
Click here to learn how to make the PR process work for you.