5 PR Hacks For Bootstrapped Designers

Here’s an almost $64,000 question: should you be hiring a PR agency? With billing often running at thousands of dollars per month, justifying the costs can prove difficult when you could be better served investing in sample making, pattern making, materials or production orders. Nevertheless, securing press mentions is a great way to grow your business, and it’s worthwhile to master a few tactics to see your name in lights – or, you know, print.

1. Find The Right Fit

There’s innate value in being in the right place at the right time. Take the time to analyze the publications you’re targeting, and ensuring that the answers to the following questions fit your brand.

  • • What kind of stories do they write?
  • • Are they more inclined to discuss ideas, people, businesses or products?
  • • Are they reporting facts as they are, or do they have more of an op-ed style or stance?
  • • Most importantly, can you picture your company in its pages?

If they’re focused on design or entrepreneurship – or have a reader base that’s open to learning more about these areas – that’s a great start. When you’re pitching and you know you’re the right fit, you’ll be able to deliver your position with conviction. Plus, investigate to see if they publish an editorial calendar: it’ll help you build your strategy around their strict deadlines. Forbes, for example, publishes theirs here.

2. Forge A Strong Connection With The Journalist

When you’ve locked down which publication will be sharing your story with the masses, the next step is identifying the journalist who would best relay that story. Ideally, they’d already be penning similar features in your industry arena. In the early days of Maker’s Row, Fast Company was a natural fit, with their readership heavy with designers – not to mention several savvy startup devotees with an entrepreneurial bent.

3. Work The Angles

Make sure your pitch is newsworthy. Without a strong angle, you’re unlikely to land the publication you want, and certainly unlikely to receive the traction you need. Key opportunities include reaching a significant sales milestone, or perhaps you’ve made a recent policy change work in your favor. Maybe you’ve had a design or product development breakthrough – that’s worth shouting from rooftops! Some brands that have nailed this approach include yadaBags, which was featured with Maker’s Row on CNN, Shinola’s appearance in Details, and our very own feature on WWD.

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4. Brevity Is Your Bestie

Limit your pitch emails to two short paragraphs – less, if you can. Consider a pitch the TL;DR of brand communications. This way, you’ll engage your contact quickly without fatiguing them, and you’ll give them the opportunity to ask the pertinent questions that’ll pique the interest of their readership. This isn’t to say that you should submit a couple of off-hand lines: distill your pitch into a couple of impactful, thorough paragraphs to really capture a journalist’s attention.

5. Be A Source

This is especially valuable, and integral to building relationships for the long haul. Perhaps your story wasn’t quite suitable for the upcoming issue, but if a journalist sees something of interest in your topic, they’ll keep you in mind for future editions. Until then, be sure to position yourself as a fount of knowledge with a keen design and entrepreneurial perspective, so you can be a source when they need a quote or a first-hand experience to refer to. Ensure that you’ve got stats and data to back up your info, and you’ll be able to turn yourself into a go-to industry insider.

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