In September, Matter’s Open Door program conducted a free class on PR, media relations and social media for growing food and beverage startups and brands. Below are some of the session’s best takeaways.
When do I talk about my product, vs. my history and mission?
When deciding on messaging, it’s most important to consider your audience. Who are you talking to? What decision do you want them to make once they’re familiar with your brand (e.g. purchase it, invest in it, cover it, etc.)? What would they want to hear to have their interest piqued?
A reporter that often covers product roundups or recipes, for example, will most likely be interested in your product — the way it tastes, the way it looks, where it can be bought — while a business or community writer may be more interested to hear about your company’s vision and mission. Sometimes, an outlet or writer will want to hear about both to craft a well-rounded story. Whatever the case, always remember who’s on the other side of the conversation, and that should help define your message and focus every time.
– Heather Pearson, Assistant Account Executive
How do I figure out which journalists I should pitch?
As a starting point, think about what your ultimate coverage goal is. Do you have a new product launching that you’d like to have covered in specific regions to help drive sales? Are you hoping to have your company profiled in a local publication for awareness-building? Do you want retail chains to gain interest in your company? Your coverage goal will help drive the type of publications that you’re going after.
From there, really dig into those publications to figure out which journalists are covering relevant topic areas and how they are covering them — this will help guide the way you pitch them. Once it’s time to reach out, don’t be afraid to get personal! Journalists love it when you reference their previous articles and explain why you think they are the perfect person to write about your product or story. It shows that you’ve done your homework.
– Sarah Pariseau, Account Director (who recently wrote about food trends)
Do I send them a press release? A pitch? A product sample?
Press releases and media alerts are great for sharing all the information about an announcement, company and product in one place. They can easily be used as a reference for media to write stories and provide background on the news or business for future opportunities.
The best way to get a press release or piece of news in front of the media is with a customized pitch. A pitch distills the information down to its simplest form, combining the most pertinent details someone needs to know (especially when they receive hundreds of emails a day) with context that is most relevant to them.
A product sample, particularly in the food and beverage industry, is critical as a tangible example of your business. Food is a sensory experience, and to truly understand your business, media should be given the opportunity to try it for themselves.
Sometimes the best approach is to just send the pitch. Other times, it’s best to send all three. While every situation is unique, each asset you create and distribute is an important part of building long-lasting relationships with your contacts and educating them on your brand and its mission.
– Julianna Sheridan, Senior Account Executive
Is there an easy way to see what does and doesn’t work for my social channels?
Before you can know what’s working on your social channels, you have to set some goals. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Drive more traffic to your website? Find star customers or influencers? First decide what you want to achieve, and then report against it. The good news is most of the major platforms provide free, easy-to-use analytics that will help you identify where you’re getting the most engagement.
Once you have your goal, create content that will help you achieve that goal. Ask questions, be engaging, and have some fun! Showcase your staff, give people a behind-the-scenes look into your business, and be true to your company culture (and for food and beverage businesses, enticing visuals of your product will be critical to success). If you’re sharing the best content for your brand, your audience will let you know by engaging with the posts you make. If you’ve been posting consistently but you’re not seeing an increase in engagement, then you may want to re-think the type of content you’re creating.
At the end of the day, just be yourself. Bring your culture through into the posts you make, and you’ll attract the right kind of people who will want to do business with you!
– Caitlin Thayer, Digital Marketing Specialist