How to Tell and Sell Your Crowdfunding Story

Telling and selling your crowdfunding story

Your story is key

 

All crowdfunding campaigns need to share their message via a well told crowdfunding story.

In this interview, Fiona Scott helps project creators understand how to put together and promote their campaign story.

By way of introduction, Fiona runs her own media consultancy with many years’ experience in journalism and television.

She is a working journalist supporting sole traders, businesses and experts who want to tell their story wisely, carefully and to the right audiences.

 

Journalists are interested in YOU

 

As a journalist, Fiona is not interested in products and services – she is interested in people.

The key thing to remember is that journalists want to know your story. It is not about your product or service, forget about that, it is about YOU and your team.

You have to crystallise your business alongside your own story.

So the very first thing to think about is: “How are you going to position your own story and then weave your business into that?”

In terms of developing the story Fiona finds that business people tend to fall into three distinct categories:

1. Those who would like some PR but do not think they have a story to tell

2. Those who think their story is the greatest thing on earth and everybody will want to hear it, and

3. Those who understand the importance of the story, but do not have the time for it and want someone else to help.

Fiona always has to start from scratch, as the story is about people so she needs to get to know them, their back story and their business. The next step is a plan.

Some people try to squash too many concepts into one story or video when they should be concentrating on one or two.

Come up with a plan. Determine what the first story is going to be, then the second and so on. Drip feed your information, especially with your video as you do not want to overload people with information.

crowdfunding story
People invest in people

 

All you have to do is look at TV programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice in the UK to see how many times you hear those successful businessmen say: “I like you, I like your energy”, and often they will invest in you rather than the actual project or business.

You have to grasp this at an early stage to make an impact.

When it comes to taking your story beyond your immediate network, Fiona suggests you start by looking at your local geographic community.

Use your social media network and ask them to share your message.
For example, you can reach out via Twitter, Facebook, etc., explaining what it is you are trying to achieve.

Repeat your message at times when you know your audience is online – not only from nine to five – but in the evenings and weekends as well.

For those that assist you in this way it is important to say thank you often as this enhances the emotional bond you are developing with them.

You can also tell your story by using more traditional methods such as your local journalist and online publications.

Providing a link to a video is also becoming increasingly attractive as it gives journalists content to show on their own sites, as well as on aggregator sites.

While you might not say: “Watch this video for three minutes”, you can send a summary asking them to watch the video for more information.

You might be surprised to find what comes from a non-pressured, non hard-sell approach when asking people to help you.


“How do I reach out to journalists?”

 

Fiona often gets asked about the best way for people to reach out to journalists.

It is no different to reaching out to any other business contact, except in this case, money is unlikely to change hands.

You must develop a relationship just like with any other contact, and get to know them.

You can do this through social media by following them, engaging with their posts, saying please and thank you, sending them an email, and asking them how they like to receive information.

You can, for example, communicate via Twitter to say that ‘I have sent an email with a link to a video’. Always refer back to the place where you first had contact, like Facebook or email.

A good place to make initial contact with journalists is Twitter, but according to Fiona, many journalists in the UK tend to hover around LinkedIn, especially those from the national press.

crowdfunding story

Do’s and Don’ts of the Press Release

 

When it comes to writing a press release, project creators should ensure that it is factual and interesting, without any ‘woo woo’ stuff.

For example, if you are female and you want to start a business that empowers women to feel great about themselves, and actually what you are doing is creating skin care products, then a journalist is interested in the skin care products; they are not interested in your overriding mission.

Keep it very factual, simple, short and sweet.

Add your contact details, and let the journalist decide how much they want to tell. If they want more information they will get back to you.

Remember also to add a picture of you and make sure it is up-to-date and not taken many years ago.

Fiona suggests that the press release should be no longer than one side of an A4 size sheet of paper. It has to cover the why, where, who, when, which and how of your story.

Do not add loads of extra information. Do add a link to your video at the end – do not force them to look at the video first. Do not embed pictures, they must be sent separately.

There are fewer employed journalists these days and they get invited to multiple events, so probably they will not be able to attend yours unless you are launching a new product or service.

There has to be a key reason, a nugget that will draw them to an event.

Crowdfunding is becoming more mainstream and as such, it is not “new” anymore, so be prepared for journalists not to attend your event. However, this does not mean they do not want the information.

If you are sure that what you have is the first, the only, the best or the biggest, that may pull the journalist in to attend your event.

However, this does not mean they do not want the information.

If you are sure that what you have is the first, the only, the best or the biggest, that may pull the journalist in to attend your event.

Moreover, if you have some celebrity endorsement, they may come simply because they will get a picture of someone well known or famous in the community.

Journalists are now thinking more and more: “What’s the picture, who am I going to see, who will end up in the picture?”

The structure of a press release must include a great introduction, and it has to encapsulate the whole story.

In the video interview, Fiona goes over a great example.

Listen to the video or audio at the 20 minute mark to understand how Fiona has expertly guided children’s author Sally Grindley through the process of launching her 150th book.


The importance of the ‘Media Room’



The discussion then moved on to the importance of having a ‘Media Room’.

This entails a place on your website or in the Cloud, such as Google Docs or Dropbox, where there is a selection of photos of the product or service, team photos, logos in various resolutions for print and web use, and a copy of the press release.

You can also add images that are not strictly issue or campaign led and links to your blog posts.

You just never know when a journalist might remember you for another article.

Fiona also brought up the issue of copyright vs free images.

Ensure correct use of images as you do not want to compromise your relationship with any journalist.

 

“How do I follow up with journalists?”

 

Managing the follow-up with a journalist is a difficult balance to strike.

Give the journalist at least a week. Do not ring them after two hours asking if they have seen your email.

Contact them, ideally through social media. Do not harass them. Follow up no more than twice.

If you do not hear from them, accept that it is not right at that point in time.

That does not mean that you should not send in your next story.

 

There is no such thing as a free lunch

 

For project creators on a budget there is a ton of information online.

However, project creators do need to set aside some sort of budget, even if just to attend a course to become better at doing things themselves.

If people do not invest, then it is like winking in the dark. So, yes, you do need to spend some money on being visible.

When approaching a media consultant you do need to say upfront what your budget is.

Do not expect to get something for nothing.

Even if you download something for free you still have to work out how best to use it to promote your campaign.

crowdfunding story

On ‘mud slinging’ and exclusivity

 

Buying up media lists is not a favourite with journalists.

They can tell if you carpet bomb thousands of journalists in the hope that something sticks. Journalists call this ‘mud slinging’.

It is much better to start locally, then move outwards and make the effort to contact journalists individually. You will get a far better return than hoping for ‘mud to stick’.

It is also better to draw up your own media list that is bespoke to you and your area of interest.

If you are launching on a particular day or time you can request an embargo until a specific date, although with crowdfunding, it may be better to release your story before you launch to tease some interest beforehand.

Generally, national journalists like to have exclusivity. If you offer it then you need to honour it. They will not want it to be talked about anywhere else.

They then become your media partner. If they become your media partner then you need to understand exactly what you get in return for that exclusivity.

Also, be prepared to set a time limit. Is that exclusivity going to be one day, one week, one month, so that you can spread it out after it expires. For national journalists to agree, your story needs to be pretty fantastic.


Got the story? Now it’s time for Video

 

In order to do a good video for your crowdfunding campaign you need to have a good story in the first place.

Once the story is organised, then project creators need to look at how to take their well crafted story and transfer it over to the visual medium of video.

According to Fiona, research suggests that a minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words about your business.

It is, in fact, not easy to take your story and transpose it to video as you have to tell it succinctly and well, without lots of gloss and fluff.

You need to get to the nub of the story very quickly. It is a skill in itself and one that has to be learnt.

You are very lucky if you can jump in there from the get go and do it well.

When it comes to a crowdfunding video, the approach depends on the size of the business.

In most cases, people will want to engage with you, the project creator, and then the team, but ultimately, it all hangs on you.

People will engage emotionally with you and subsequently decide if they want to invest in your crowdfunding campaign.


Fiona Scott

Fiona is the Founder of Fiona Scott Media Consultancy