PR is desired for many reasons, but most of all, for credibility. However, on the visibility and exposure front, a standard PR campaign doesn’t always get the buzz that it deserves. Online publications are saturated, other businesses and personal brands are running their own PR campaigns, and trying to stand out amongst the noise can make a significant PR investment feel like it’s barely generating enough clicks or interests to provide an ROI.
Sabrina Stocker, the cofounder of Two Comma PR, used her creativity of storytelling and behavioral economics to create a viral campaign for her co-founded company, Shopping Slot. Shopping Slot centralizes the available online delivery slots to one main location, making it easier than ever to find companies that can actually deliver in the window you want.
“Every press publication in the UK picked it up, which resulted in over 100,000+ users within 24 hours and over 3 million page views and nearly half a million users within the first six weeks,” Stocker shared. “It actually crashed the site because we had no idea it was going to take off in this way.”
In short, the virality of her PR campaign created the best case scenario that we’re all after with our PR goals: massive exposure, and a clear needle pushed forward in her business. Stocker sat down with me to share her best tips for how to replicate her success.
1. Build Up A Strong Personal Brand Beforehand
Now, you don’t need fame or to be a household name, but you do need a form of an online presence that helps customers verify who you are. “People are more likely to trust you if you have a strong personal brand,” explained Stocker. “Some may recognize your name, but since that won’t apply to everyone, it’s important that they can Google search you and verify that you know what you’re doing and you have a good track record.”
Think about the last time you saw an article online that captured your attention about a product or a service that you were potentially interested in. You likely did a little research yourself: on the company, the founders, reviews, and otherwise. “Give them something to find about you, specifically, since the PR campaign itself will explain your product or service.”
2. Ensure Your Site’s Homepage Has An Easy Interface
Prepare to get some web traffic – and lots of it. (Remember, the Shopping Slot site even crashed!) “Once you get them on your site, it’s critical that you have a clear and concise customer experience, built in a way that gives them the information they’re looking for and ultimately converts them,” she explained.
The easier, the better. “When you have a large number of people navigating the site, you want to make sure they can find what they’re looking for easily. Otherwise you run the risk of some dropping off, and others blowing up your customer service email and phone with questions, which can be very overwhelming at exceedingly high numbers.” To make sure it’s as easy as possible, recruit some friends or your neighbor to test it out as a first-time viewer, and watch how they navigate the website.
You can also utilize a software like Crazy Egg in advance to see heat maps of website activity, so you know where customers tend to drop off, and what pages they spend the most time on (so you can bring this information front and center if necessary).
3. Craft A Compelling Pitch For Journalists
Once you feel confident in your online personal brand presence and your website’s interface, it’s time to get picked up. Stocker said the key is to position your story in a way that makes it as easy as possible for journalists to pick up the story.
“We’ve found that the more you can help someone relate to a story with real life case studies, the more likely they are to deem it as ‘interesting news’ and pick it up,” Stocker explained. So, that’s exactly what she did: they pitched real life case studies of happy Shopping Slot customers to journalists, and it worked.
4. Find The Journalists Who Write About Your Industry
Many founders dread the many weeks they think they need to spend on contacting every journalist with a unique pitch, but Stocker has found a loophole. “You really only need to be picked up by one journalist, and then this story – if it’s compelling – can have a rally effect,” she explained. That’s exactly how it happened for them.
Keep in mind that journalists are always on the hunt for a great story and one of the main places they look is…. other journalists. “Journalists want to pick up on a great story, even if it’s about the same company or the same person,” Stocker explained. “This only increases the more a story does well.”
As for how to pitch, Stocker says to ditch the cold emails and take to Twitter. “Search for journalists who have reported on similar stories in the past, then tweet them. Always make sure to compliment them, first — perhaps on a past article they did, or otherwise. Prove you’ve done your research.”
Building up the credibility to boot, crafting a compelling pitch, and getting in front of the journalists who are most likely to take your story and run with it are all must-know steps on your way to PR campaign virality.