February 28th, 2012
Bridget Hilton is the co-founder of Jack’s Soap, an LA-based buy one, give one organic skin care company, started in October 2011. Jack’s is currently donating soap in Ethiopia through a partnership with Global Handwashing Day, and working to add a second non-profit partner to expand to Uganda. Visit the company’s Facebook page or website to learn more!
We knew early on that sharing our story on prominent blogs and news outlets would be key to our success as a young company. Most established companies, however, have an entire PR team, an agency that can handle the work for them, or better yet, both! But hey – we’re a start-up with super limited resources. We’re a team of two! This is a piece we had to develop ourselves, and we’ve definitely learned a ton already…
Start with social media and your closest friends
Our company had Facebook and Twitter pages before we even had a website! We begged our family and friends to join our community and promote it to their friends, and it grew organically from there. By the time we launched, we already had people who wanted to order.
Divide and conquer
Over coffee one morning (because a good coffee shop can be a GREAT office for a start-up), Ben and I drilled down every type of media opportunity we could think of that would be a good fit for our company, ranging from our friend’s blogs to national TV. We ranked them from smallest to largest to give us a clear path and goals. It’s been said a million times before, but writing it down, mapping it out and visualizing what you want is extremely important.
I will admit, it was a bit overwhelming to even think about. Ultimately, we decided that contacting 5 relevant outlets per day would be a good start. That way, we have consistency, and we can focus on reaching the people who matter most to our mission, and in a very personal way. No one appreciates a blanket PR request!
Twitter has also been a great resource – we followed the #socent hashtag and contacted the people that were posting content relevant to us. We checked out the press pages of companies that are similar in either business model or product, which gave us great ideas of what types of press to go after.
We always include 3 points: what our mission is, the benefits of the actual product, and why we think their audience will be interested in our story. We keep it simple and try to educate about our cause – most don’t even realize how great the need is. Create a one sheet that is easy to read and not too wordy, or a video that explains your company.
When in doubt, Google.
Google is your friend – there are hundreds of helpful lists out there: “The Top 10 Vegan Blogs” or “Blogs Every Social Entrepreneur Should Follow” for instance. Maybe most importantly, try to meet up with other entrepreneurs with similar interests in your area. Ask them where they have been featured and if you could share contacts with each other. We’ve found that most people want to help!
Final words of wisdom
Make sure you have a GREAT product.
Retain a great attitude.
If an outlet declines your PR request, offer to write a guest post. Editors love content.
For every 10 emails you send out, you may only get one response… that’s still progress!
Celebrate the small victories.
The Start Something That Matters community is filled with amazing entrepreneurs who are starting incredible projects and making a positive impact on the world around them. We invite these individuals to offer their advice, words of wisdom, and resources to the Start Something That Matters readers. If you would like to contribute and be featured as a guest author, please email us at caitlin@TOMS.com.