SmartCompany (Dominic Powell) posted this article from the archives today KeepCup’s co-founder on the “crazy” 400% increase in sales fuelled by ABC’s “War on Waste” program. (Side note - this image of KeepCup co-founder and managing director Abigail Forsyth is how to nail a press shot. Bright, plain colour. A good press shot will seal the deal.)
It made 'what is PR' and 'what can it do for my business' jump into my mind. In my experience, startups generally understand that they need PR but don't often understand what exactly it can do for their business.
What is PR?
You cannot buy genuine publicity coverage, which is what is referred to as 'earned media'. To secure genuine media coverage it has to be newsworthy, or of interest to an audience. This, you cannot buy. It is for this reason that the public trust (depends who you speak to) earned media coverage over that of paid advertising.
That is the skill of a good publicist. Whilst media relationships can help your pitch email get read, publicists have to ensure that what they are pitching to media is in fact newsworthy and of genuine interest to their audience.
A great publicist finds the newsworthy angles/information/insights from your brand (even when you don't know what is of genuine public interest about your brand, that is our true value - to find the gold) and then presents it to media in a way that is clear, concise and easy to understand. It is not guaranteed. Other factors go into determining whether you will get media coverage. These include what else is happening in the news cycle, has the topic been covered too much, timing, deadlines, interest and more.
What can it do for growth?
It will have different results and outcomes for all PR activity. KeepCup being featured on ABC's War on Waste show was of genuine interest to the public. It had 759,000 viewers, and was trending at #1 on Twitter (Source: TV Tonight.com.au). It was a solution to help combat individuals' daily contribution to waste. The show highlighted what a daily take-away cup does to the environment, one billion coffee cups go to landfill each year. It spoke to people's emotions. KeepCup was then featured as a solution. **Googles KeepCup, purchases online, feels like a better person** It is no wonder that KeepCup experienced a 400% increase in sales, which is significant for a company that turns over $6 million annually.
That is a PR win. Even better, it is a genuine shift in people starting to make better decisions for their waste footprint.
How to use PR for startup growth
To make the most out of PR activity (read: minimal budget) it needs to be strategic and well considered.
1. Is your brand ID/message effective? Not only does your brand need to look great, but what you say as a brand and how you say it (tone) is just as important, if not more. This needs to be on point and consistent first before you can try and communicate to your target market. If you don't prioritise this, the result can feel like you are pushing it uphill (read: burning marketing dollars, taking more money to acquire new customers even though you are shouting your brand from the rooftops everywhere). Your brand can sound diluted and confused, people may not understand clearly what you offer and why they should choose you. Getting this right will change the game and put you in the best position to scale with marketing ease (read: minimal budget).
2. Who is your target market, what pain are you providing a solution for and what media are they engaged with?
3. Find the newsworthy gold in your brand. This is the hardest part. This is the part that PRs high five each other about when they find it. This is what will give you the best chance to get you earned media coverage and instant eyeballs on your brand.
4. Time to go hard and get in front of your target market (audience). There is a reason Bill Gates was once famously quoted saying "if he was down to his last dollar he would spend it on PR". As part of an overall marketing strategy, PR is a powerful component to reach potentially huge audiences very quickly. If done strategically, it can be a very cost effective strategy to reach new customers. If your message is on point and you are easy to buy from/engage with, then it's a numbers game for growth opportunity. If you can get your brand in front of as many of the right kind of people who are interested in the problem/pain you solve then this will be the quickest way to scale with earned media/PR.
If you only had a dollar for PR, where would you spend it? (Hint: Go to Woolworths, buy chocolate for brain fuel, download Twitter and start conversations. Word to the wise; tweet carefully/considered when engaging with media)
To buy a KeepCup head to KeepCup.com