Social media is one of the biggest ways to get your online boutique’s name out there and start drumming up business. We’ve already talked about why you need to be using Pintrest, Facebook and Twitter - this is a given in today’s ecommerce world. Instagram, too is an invaluable tool to get people to see your products.
However, getting good old fashioned press write-ups for your ecommerce store lends legitimacy to your business that’s difficult to find elsewhere. Let’s talk about some do's and don’ts when courting journalists and pitching them a story that will get people talking about your products and visiting your store.
DO start cultivating your relationships with journalists long before you approach them for a story. What publications interest you? What blogs would your readers most likely frequent and find interesting? Seek out the contributors to these publications and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media venues -- they depend on stories from the public, so they won’t be hard to find. Tweet a congratulations to them when they post about birthdays or personal triumphs, engage in online conversations with them when they ask questions to their followers. When you find a piece that you find interesting, talk about it with your own followers. Post the link with a compliment, like “Interesting piece on the future of the industry from @JournalistX.” Even consider emailing the journalist about the piece they wrote, with other articles you genuinely feel would interest them. These kinds of interactions open up avenues for interaction later down the road, and interacting with them from your business’ social media accounts means they will be familiar with your business name at the very least.
-Example of a product review by She Wears Fashion - a fashion blogger
DO polish your pitch so that anyone listening can understand your angle in 10 seconds or less. Internet readers know within a few seconds whether or not they will continue reading a blog post or article, and hardened internet veterans like journalists can be even harsher. Your pitch should be quick and easy. Focus on the benefits that readers would get from this story, not on your own need to sell more products. Start off by addressing them by name -- nothing gets emails deleted faster than “Dear Sir or Madam” -- and complimenting them on a piece that you have read to communicate that you’ve done your research and that this isn’t just a mass email. Have multiple angles: perhaps you want them to do a story on a new, environmentally friendly textile you’re switching to, but if you don’t get a response you can follow-up with a new idea, like the fact that your product switch is part of a growing trend in your industry. Ideas that don’t just focus on you, but can speak to larger trends that readers want to hear about, can often get journalists’ attention.
-Some of the survivors of the Titanic's crew, still in their lifejackets, tell journalists their tales of that fateful journey. Make your pitch a compelling story and you will find it easy to be featured by journalists eager to find their next story.
DO offer to help a reporter, particularly by signing up at a website like HelpAReporterOut.com. A website like this links up small business owners and marketing professionals with the journalists who could be interested in writing a piece about them. You’ll start to get emails about the kind of products the journalists are looking to do a story on, but don’t reply unless you know that your product would be a good fit. It’s common courtesy, and you would likely be wasting your time.
DO make yourself useful in other ways, such as offering to put reporters in contact with a source that would be perfect for their story. Even if you’re not being quoted in their article this time, you can build up a good rapport through email this way and give yourself legitimacy. After all, journalists are more likely to take you seriously as a knowledgeable source if you know other knowledgeable people in your industry. If their email correspondences with you give them leads, sources, or are even just friendly and considerate, journalists will pay more attention to you when you contact them.
DO write your own content, even if your goal is to get others to write about you. Look for a newsworthy angle in your industry, and target a smaller blog that features guest writers. This, in turn, could get picked up by larger blogs or industry news sites. Even if your article is not about your online store specifically, it will help you sell online. At the very least, your by-line will have your title, such as “Founder of SupaTees.com,’ and that link will drive more people to your site. This, in turn, will boost your search rankings -- and since most customers reach your store through search engines, it’ll get you even more visitors to your website store.
DO send your products out for review, and target publications that make sense for your customer base. Besides websites and blogs, YouTube is a great place to find people that review products for free and have large followings. Whether you’re launching a new makeup line or are selling high-end accessories for pets, there’s a YouTuber out there with a channel full of followers that are interested in your products. Nothing convinces people to buy a product like a real, honest review.
DON’T use ‘buzzwords’ that are meaningless, like ‘revolutionary’ or ‘incredible,’ because these get repeated so often that they can put people off. Instead, focus on the concrete benefits that your product has, or the aspects that would make it newsworthy and interesting to readers. Say how your product makes life better or easier. Perhaps your product is made with materials that astronauts use in space, or is high-tech but was inspired by ancient practices that the modern world has overlooked. You wanted to start your own online store because you have an exceptional product, and you certainly have an exceptional story, but you need to make sure that you package it in a way that sets you apart from the rest rather than being another “breakthough must-have”.
-Buzzwords tend to go in and out of fashion and can become overused as shown by this charts for popular buzzwords being used across the media
DON’T give up when you haven’t received any interest in your story. Continue to have useful and meaningful online interactions with the journalists working for your desired publications, and send follow-ups. If they haven’t decided to feature you in a story, try a new angle -- don’t keep pitching the same thing they’ve rejected before.
DON’T say no when a journalist wants to interview you, even if it’s on short notice and you’re on vacation. As a small business, a write-up in an industry magazine or blog will give you exposure that you just can’t buy, so work with them to schedule a phone or Skype interview, even if it’s inconvenient.
Keep all of these things in mind, and you’ll not only get good press, but get more visitors and drive up sales. Remember to add a PRESS page to your store so your customers can easily access all the headlines you’ll make!
Small business PR service that pitches stories to the press for you:
Good source of fashion enthusiasts - go here to find suitable peeps to review your fashion based products