Getting More Press and PR for your eCommerce Company

Through a variety of tactics, I have been able to get our companies covered in publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, INC, Adage, Adweek and more. The key word in that sentence is variety, no one tactic alone will guarantee you results when seeking press coverage. Here is a list of tips, tools, and tricks that have been extremely effective for me.

Getting features on large and small blogs alike can be a powerful tool for driving sales and building third-party credibility alike. It is important to invest some time in designing a PR strategy that will work for your business. In our accelerator program, I go deeper into this because blogs and microblogs can be amazing for building your brand and driving sales.

Research the Landscape– I suggest building your own personal database with a list of people who cover your industry or have covered similar stories.  Anyone and everyone who has covered your industry and similar topics should go into this document. Record their name, social links, and some top-level details about their interests and objectives, their personal websites, and updates on any points of contact you’ve been able to make with them.

This sort of sounds creepy, but it’s really just a way to map out the people you’d like to build a relationship with. I’m not suggesting in any way that you start spamming or bothering these folks by any means, these are just the people who will actually want to hear about what you are doing when you have something interesting to say, and they know who you are.

Press Rush – This is an amazing tool for press research and outreach. You can search for different topics and find journalists that have covered this topic…On top of that, it has actual contact information for them and you can even reach out via the platform if you do not wish to email them from your own address.

I am a big fan of this (subscription) service and have used it quite a few times for research and contact information.  Let’s slow down a bit though…just because you have a journalist’s contact information, doesn’t mean you are ready to go.

Build Relationships – This probably isn’t the tip you wanted to hear, but it is the most important thing you could possibly do. I formerly looked at journalists and contributors as gods who held the key to massive bumps in sales. Although a big article in a big publication can certainly boost sales…Contributors are not gods, they are people just like you and I who love to receive valuable contributions to their lives.

I am all about the long game. Chances are this isn’t your first business, and chances are it won’t be your last. Take any opportunity to add value for a contributor that you can just as you should with any other business or personal connection. Be a good person. Try and find ways to help them that aren’t necessarily beneficial for you before you ever ask them for anything. Be creative and genuine.

Making the Pitch – When you do approach someone to be creative in the way that you make a pitch, and more importantly, have something that is actually pitch worthy.  Just because you launched a new product doesn’t mean they will give a shit (unless it is really really epic). Frame the pitch in a way that proves it will be advantageous for them to cover it because of all of the attention you will get and will be beneficial for their readers because it is actually really cool news.

There are all sorts of creative ways to pitch stories, and most of them will depend on your industry and product/service. In any case, put yourself in their shoes and ask what would make them go “holy shit, that’s cool!”. I haven’t said it yet, but if you aren’t making a personalized pitch for each person (following that interests/quirks/previous contact point details that you’ve recorded in your excel document) then you are an idiot ?

Write it yourself – I do this pretty often. If I have something really cool like a new video/product launch combination, I will send some samples, do a creative pitch and also supply them with multiple angles for cool stories that they could run with. I have actually even written entire articles that get published pretty much word for word in major publications. The secret is to actually tie in a lot of real value into several interesting things your company is doing that is actually newsworthy.

I learned this the hard way…”Hey ____, check out our 11th Beard Club commercial, isn’t it funny?”….crickets. If you can figure out a bunch of really cool content alongside your commercial launch, and some other cool milestones about your business and what that means for the industry, now you’ve got a story. If you can do a bunch of the heavy lifting for these people, they have a cool story and don’t have to do a hell of a lot of research to make it work before pushing it to the editors.

Paid Traffic – When the article drops, pour TONS of traffic on it, ideally from multiple facebook ads accounts. This can help it to trend and get to the home page of whatever publication it is on. It can be a very great acquisition tool as some point in your customer journey. Third party credibility is really amazing and depending on the quality of the piece, you throw a lot of traffic on it for a long time, even through Taboola, Outbrain and sources other than Facebook.

This can also make for some great encouragement when speaking with the person writing it too. You need to be tasteful with how you mention it, but getting hundreds of thousands of views on an article is something that any journalist would want.

Press Release – I’m really not a fan of these. They usually result in a couple of small written pieces by smaller publications but seldom anything significant. I am sure they work better in some industries than others, but I consider it to be a pretty old school tactic unless coupled with something really cool, or unless you have legit epic news…then it can be super beneficial.

The Hail Mary

This has actually worked before, but I wouldn’t invest a lot of time in it and instead to look to recruit a VA for it, and/or some friends. I’ve used non-work emails and asked friends to submit “tips” to some of the bigger blogs when a video of ours dropped and started to catch steam. Usually, it’s basically something like “Hey ____ team, I just saw this video on Reddit and it is freaking hilarious. You guys should totally cover this before it goes viral”.

This is a bit of a long shot, and again you need something worth tipping them off on…but it has actually worked before. It is technically not unethical if it is worth talking about!

Micro-Bloggers – This is something you can start doing immediately while building bigger relationships, and something that can actually start to build a very solid foundation for your SEO rankings, and contribute to a lot of sales.  Bloggers that have a couple of thousand followers often have a much more loyal following than a big-time blogger or influencer. A lot of these folks will often review your product, do an unboxing, and potentially even as a part of your referral program to help them get some revenue in their pockets.

I would seriously advise that you start to make a list in excel of all the blogs and microblogs that focus on your industry. Record the URL, contact information, keeping track of last contact points, and any pertinent information. Then start to reach out and offer samples and anything else that may be handy for a review. Usually, you can be a bit more forward with smaller bloggers than those who write for Mashable for example, and smaller bloggers are often happy to review products, and many of them are looking to monetize their blog.

A huge piece of leverage is that you can offer to send some paid traffic to their review through facebook. This can be a really strong acquisition tool, boost your SEO rankings, and is a really big advantage to them. Alternatively, offering affiliate links can sometimes go really well, and you can advise that they cycle some of the cash they are making into sending traffic via Facebook to the post to keep new readers coming in and sales coming.

Working with an Agency

We have worked with agencies in the past…some are great, some are mediocre. Generally, if you don’t have anything exciting to pitch, it’s going to take some serious creativity and favor pulling to get you coverage. When you work with an agency, you get to tap into a vast amount of pre-established relationships that they have created with members of the press. If they are good, they can find exciting ways for even the most boring launches worth covering.

With agencies, you usually get what you pay for. If you don’t have a budget for an agency the tips above will help you work hard on building out your press network.

There are lots of nuances in the world of landing press, and your best bet is to learn what will work best for your company and your situation. This is a marathon and not a sprint, so please do not be in a rush to burn bridges in the hopes of getting some quick sales!

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