Four ways to get the media behind your crowdfunding campaign

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Financial Post | Jackson Wightman and Christa Fairchild | Oct 30, 2014

MediaWe’re going to let you in on a little secret: Crowdfunding campaigns on platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo aren’t really about the fundraising.

In fact, crowdfunding projects usually cost the startup money for logistics, promotion, management of a backer community, and other business functions that are tested during a campaign. The return on investment of such projects is community building and exposure.

Add to this the fact that the first 24 to 72 hours of a campaign usually determines whether it sinks or swims, and you have a recipe whereby well-timed, properly executed media relations are incredibly important to positive return on investment.

Regardless of what your product is, getting the media relations piece of a crowdfunding campaign right is difficult. Media publish on their own schedules, they’re generally deluged with information about non-newsworthy nonsense, and crowdfunding is not shiny and new anymore.

Here are four keys to conducting media relations for a crowdfunding campaign:

Three-quarters of the work should happen before the campaign goes live.

Most of the time – whether it be a new product launch, a special event, or a press conference – media relations happen in advance. You build a target media list and develop messages early; you create media materials before you need them; etc. However, with any crowdfunding initiative we’ve worked on there’s even more input at the front end. It’s imperative work happen early so that coverage can appear in the initial phase of the campaign and drive traffic to your fundraising page. If you’ve got a product that requires a demo or a roadshow, conduct these meetings before the campaign starts.

You don’t need media coverage on Day 30 of a 30-day campaign. You need it Day 1, ideally in Hour 1.

'Learn Everything' Crowdfunding Bootcamp:  Nov 6, 2014 (Full day workshop in Toronto)

Use a media embargo, but know it may go wrong.

Anytime we do work that involves a media embargo we assume things will get messy. This is because certain large media outlets (who will remain nameless) have policies about ignoring embargoes. Be sure to check before you commit. Broken embargoes usually anger media who played by the rules and got scooped. Sometimes, however, embargoes work out. When this happens there are usually several outlets who publish pieces at around the same time. It’s a beautiful crescendo of noise and tends to equate to a large surge in web traffic, which is great for a crowdfunding campaign. Because of this, the embargo lift date for any media coverage should always coincide with the dissemination of the press release and public kickoff. Don’t have media publishing the day before you launch as any traffic that might have come your way will have no place to go.

Consider multiple newsworthy announcements over the course of your campaign.

Every crowdfunding effort gets to announce its launch. Hopefully you have your ducks in a row and can get a good surge of media coverage immediately after you kick things off. However, when you design your campaign it’s a good idea to think through secondary announcements that may result in more media coverage and provide your campaign with another boost in traffic after any initial stories appear. Some journalists may be interested should you hit the funding targets that make your goals a reality. Also, consider how you might announce new partnerships that come about over the campaign. The more spikes in news coverage you can get over a campaign, the better.

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