Friends and family alone cannot fuel a crowdfunding campaign. You need outside voices to champion your product to reach a critical mass so you can meet, and exceed your goals. Getting on the radar of a prominent blogger or journalist can help your campaign break through the noise and rise to the top, but how do you even go about getting their attention?
Do Your Research
A blog, enthusiast site, or influencer can help legitimize your product and amplify your message to new audiences, but it's critical to understand that no two outlets are created equal—and reaching out to the wrong site can do more harm than good.
Chances are, if you’ve been working on your idea for a while, you’re pretty involved with the community around your industry and know what outlets are receptive to covering crowdfunding campaigns. Make a list with contact info for certain writers, and bookmark links to their coverage of similar campaigns to see if there are any common threads that hint at what other creators did to capture their attention. When you’re crafting your own outreach, make sure you’re speaking their language. Cater your message to each outlet and show you understand what excites them and that your campaign scratches that itch.
It’s also important to understand HOW they cover your industry as well. Do they do product reviews? Do they interview project creators? Or do they simply rehash the information found on a Kickstarter page? The more in-depth they go, the more valuable they will be to your campaign (and consequently the more difficult it will be to catch their attention).
Don’t Just Send a Press Release
Blogs, sites and journalists make their living on clicks, and the one thing that gets eyeballs on their page is an exclusive. Sending a blanket press-release from your outreach plan to every outlet that covers your industry is a surefire way to get ignored with extreme prejudice. You need something juicy that a site can plaster a big EXCLUSIVE in front of.
So think about what you can offer up that their audience would find compelling. If you’re crowdfunding a game, can you give them a piece of hi-res character artwork? How about an exclusive gameplay video? If it’s a writing project, what about an exclusive excerpt or chapter?
Don’t be duplicitous, though. Chances are, the outlets that cover your industry are more tight-knit than you think, and word gets around quick. If you promise the same exclusive to multiple outlets, that will come out and sink your chances of getting any press, let alone any primo real estate on a blogger’s page, Twitter feed or otherwise. Offer something unique to each outlet, and prioritize your efforts (and your best material) on the sites that will get the most eyeballs on your campaign.
Don’t Give Them a Homework Assignment
Before you send an outlet a copy of your game or a free sample of your product, understand that this is something everyone does, and in many cases, it will get returned unopened. Some outlets have policies against accepting unsolicited product, but in general bloggers don’t want homework. They don’t have the time or the energy to test every product or play every game that comes across their desk. If you are going to make it onto their site you need to make it as frictionless as possible.
Part of your outreach plan should include materials that spells out the most compelling features of your product. If possible, include media (photos and video) showing your product in use. Ease them into any coverage, and if an outlet shows interest, then you can build a deeper relationship via sample product, more exclusives and cross-promotion on your campaign page. But let them solicit it, don’t overreach.
There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
You’ve got to spend money to make money, they say, but be wary of any outlet that demands payment for any coverage (or even require a downpayment to simply open up the communication channels). Paying for a sponsored post is not bad in and of itself, but once money comes into the equation, you need to ensure some return on your investment. Don’t just rely on an outlet’s subscriber count or view tally, often their regular coverage gets exponentially higher clicks than any “sponsored” pages or videos on their site. Any professionally run site or channel can give you figures detailing things like time-on-page and click-through from their article to the campaign page. If they can’t give you that, don’t do business with them.
Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. If a certain outlet isn’t driving traffic the way they promised, it’s okay to end the relationship. Same for any site that acts unprofessionally. Ask around; If you hear any red flags about a particular page, outlet or individual, steer clear. Your energy is best spent on your idea, not on putting out fires or dealing with drama.
When done right, a relationship with a blogger can be mutually beneficial; your campaign can help them produce compelling content for their site, and their audience can help fuel your campaign. The easier you can be to work with, the more willing people will be to cover your idea.