As you can guess, we receive a lot of media pitches for crowdfunding campaigns. I see certain patterns both in the way we’re pitched and the way I react to these pitches, and I think understanding these patterns can help any crowdfunder hone his or her pitch.
Note that I’m specifically referring to the process of pitching via email, which is how a lot of pitching happens in this digital age.
For the TL;DR crowd, I can sum this entire article up in one sentence: Pitch the media as you would your most fickle, hurried casual visitor. You may have just seconds to convince a journalist that you are a “unique and beautiful snowflake” in the winter storm of crowdfunding noise. Craft your crowdfunding pitch accordingly.
Finally, I’ll be the first to admit that some of this is going to be “just me talking.” Every media representative is going to be a bit different. Don’t take the following as gospel, but consider these as guidelines to help with your pitch. Truth be told, I don’t always follow these rules myself. Sometimes I have a visceral reaction to a pitch and post it regardless of the circumstances, but for the most part I think these will ring true. With that out of the way, tip number one is…
Make it easy to cover your crowdfunding offering
I’m leading with this one because I think it makes a huge difference for many members of the media. Sometimes I receive pitches that look something like this…
My name is John and I wanted to let you know about our new offering on Kickstarter for a new iPad accessory called the iAccessory. We think this product will really help users use their iPad on the go. You can see the campaign page here: link
Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to interview Jane Doe, our CEO and founder.
This pitch creates a lot of work. Any media member now has to visit the offering and perform some due diligence to make a determination of whether or not the offering warrants coverage in the first place. That decision is usually made in a few seconds, much like how a user surveys an offering. If the decision is made that it does warrant coverage, an email back-and-forth usually ensues. All of this eats time, and few journalists have a lot of time.
As far as I’m concerned, you’re much better off sending as much info as possible up front. Include a press release, some rich media to use in a story, and unless you think it is really important to your story skip the process of offering an interview and just send some quotes. If I can go straight from your email to a story I’ll appreciate you making it easy on me, I’m more likely to cover your offering and I’m more likely to reach out for an ancillary interview to clarify any questions and make the story unique to our web site.
Note: Video is the way to go. Video is easy to post and engages readers well by design. If you send a video specifically geared toward news readers, it’s a safe bet that your video will get published at the very least and it could prove a powerful conversion tool as well. News organizations love video.
Follow the cardinal rule of crowdfunding: The 30% Rule
As we’ve said an untold number of times, people are vastly more likely to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign if that campaign has already received 30% of its funds.
A vast majority of the pitches I receive have little to no current funding. It is pretty rare I’m compelled to cover offerings that fall in this category. Journalists want to be the first to cover offerings that will be successful in the future. Having 2% of your goal raised after two weeks on Kickstarter doesn’t inspire confidence in your future success.
Are there exceptions? Yes. The Star Wars Kickstarter offerings are a good example in that they had no chance of success and still received lots of coverage. If your idea is just that good, congratulations! Break all the rules. Otherwise, make sure you’ve got some traction before your pitch.
When drafting your crowdfunding pitch, know your audience
The way you sell me on your offering might be (and probably will be) totally different from how you may sell a specialty publication covering smart home accessories or a huge general interest news site like the Huffington Post.
We’re a crowdfunding web site… we’re going to be particularly interested in your marketing strategy, what platform you chose, the basics of your project, etc. That is what our readers are looking for.
If there are one or two outlets that you really want coverage in, pay attention to how they cover the news and tailor pitches specifically for them. For example, Business Insider loves listicles, or articles that are basically photo galleries with a bit of text. (See an example here) If you’re going to pitch Business Insider, consider sending them 10-20 photos. By contrast, VentureBeat values perspective that appeals to entrepreneurs. Rich media isn’t as important to VentureBeat, but being able to frame your project as something entrepreneurs have to know about is.