Raising money through the crowd is all about getting the word out about your company. Above all, it is an exercise in self-promotion. There are dozens of different ways how to crowdfund a business and find your target investors. In this article, we invited Nathan Rose to explain one method of crowdfunding marketing: media outreach. Nathan Rose is expert in the field of crowdfunding and has written the succesful book Equity Crowdfunding: The Complete Guide for Startups & Growing Companies.
What is media outreach?
Media outreach is one of the most effective methods of getting attention to your offer, especially if your goals include using crowdfunding to reach large numbers of new investors (as opposed to targeting smaller numbers of professional investors).
Using the media to broadcast your story to the masses means you can use crowdfunding to not only raise money for your company, but grow awareness of it as well. Marketing exposure and raising money are usually number 1 and number 2 on the to-do list for young, growing companies, and crowdfunding allows a company to do both at the same time. It is easy to see why crowdfunding has such strong appeal!
Platforms such as Oneplanetcrowd
maintain lists of journalists which crowdfunding companies can access, as part of their service. Make sure to make good use of these. You should still do your own media outreach, but anything the crowdfunding platform can provide represents a strong value-add, and an invaluable place to start from.
Remember that “media” extends far beyond television, newspapers, and magazines. There are YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, and so on. These specialized audiences may actually be a better fit, even if they are smaller. It’s all about understanding who your investor avatar is, and finding a way to access the places that their attention is directed to.
The great benefit of media outreach is that by building a relationship with just one person (the journalist), a crowdfunding company can access many sets of eyeballs. Therefore, media outreach is all about connecting strongly with the journalist. The rest of this article focuses on specific techniques to do that effectively.
Always bear in mind that the journalist is a real person. So, try to put yourself in their shoes. What are they looking for? What will make them excited to feature your story? And most importantly, what can you do to stand out from all the other pitches that fills the journalist’s inbox every day?
Crowdfunding Media Outreach Is A 5-Step Process
1. Understand Their Audience
Before you do anything else, it’s essential to establish whether the journalist and their publication is a actually a good match for your company in the first place. For example, if your company does sustainable energy infrastructure, you need to find journalists (and publications) that cover that sector. Look at their website, and see what kinds of content they feature. Also, read the relevant articles that the journalist has written in the past.
You can immediately rule out any news sites which are:
- academic, or purely focused on technical aspects
- no longer publishing new content (which happens to a lot of blogs and podcasts)
- solely focused on a geographic region which is outside of where you operate (for instance, a Dutch company will have a hard time getting into the American Mississippi Business Journal)
2. Build A Relationship
Journalists suffer from an overwhelming number of requests for their attention. The way to stand out is to be different from everyone else - which means, building a real connection with the journalist, before asking them for something.
Most crowdfunders simply send a cold email, asking the journalist to feature their campaign, having done absolutely no prior groundwork. The first communication is asking for something. If you can instead give before you ask, you are automatically well ahead of the rest. It’s the same concept as crowdbuilding before crowdfunding
So, before you ask a journalist to feature your campaign, do something for nice for them. Share an article they have posted on social media, while tagging them in it. Send them a nice email - without asking for anything in return. Best of all: try to meet the journalist in person. People appreciate real-life connections, especially in this digital age.
Mere familiarity with your name can be enough to give you the boost you need to stand out from the clutter of emails that are clogging all journalist inboxes.
3. Pitch Your Angle
It’s your job to create a pitch which is so good that it can’t be ignored. A templated press release announcing the fact that your company is doing a crowdfunding raise just isn’t going to cut it. To get their attention, you need to customize your pitch to every journalist. Yes, this takes time - but sending the same generic message to every journalist is nothing more than spam, and will get deleted without a second thought.
What is your unique take on crowdfunding? What is different or special about your company, or the way you are doing your campaign? This pitch needs to be closely informed by the journalist’s interests and the publication’s target readers - which is another reason why doing step 1 in this list is so important.
4. Polite Follow-Up
Journalists are busy. They might be on vacation, not get your pitch the first time around, or forget to respond to it. So, don’t be afraid to follow up after a few days. On the other hand, don’t become annoying - if they ignore you after the initial email and two follow-ups, it is time to give up and move on.
A great way to automate this process is the Gmail plugin Rebump
, which sends automated email follow-ups to people you select, until they reply, on a set schedule. You can use the time you save on not needing to do manual following up, to write more customized initial media pitches.
5. It’s A Numbers Game
Even if you do everything right, you should realize that nobody gets a 100% success rate with crowdfunding media outreach. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with a given journalist - instead, send out multiple pitches - as many as you have time for. If you want to get featured in 20 publications, you might need to send out 100 pitches, even if the pitches are excellent quality.
It is better to be featured for genuine “interest” reasons, by smaller, more targeted publications. It’s all a matter of building a relationship, and then figuring out a compelling reason for a journalist to feature you - one which achieves both your crowdfunding promotion goals, and makes the journalist’s job easier.
Finally, realize that crowdfunding media outreach will be most effective when combined with other crowdfunding promotion tactics. There is a tremendous “surround sound effect” of appearing in multiple places, all at the same time. So, combine media outreach with e-mail marketing, in-person events, social media, and so on. That way, your target investors will get to see your offer repeatedly, and your offer becomes harder to ignore. In this way, media appearances will reinforce all your other crowdfunding marketing efforts.
About Nathan Rose
Nathan Rose is the bestselling author of Equity Crowdfunding: The Complete Guide For Startups & Growing Companies
. He has appeared at crowdfunding events around the globe, including in Toronto, Amsterdam, London and Paris, and has spent time as an Expert in Residence at CrowdfundingHub. Today, he runs the website www.startupfundingsecrets.io
, as a way of helping startups from all over the world use equity crowdfunding to gain marketing exposure and raise money at the same time.
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