Getting coverage for a well-known brand is easy. Sure, any beauty publication will be keen to publish information about the new campaign L’Oréal are running. Likewise, Waitrose going plastic free? Absolutely, newspapers will be all over that. However, what about brands that aren’t well-known? Brands that don’t have a national or global reputation?
Small brands are faced with more of a challenge when trying to cut through industry noise because people don’t know anything about them. So, in order to PR them out successfully, you need to give them a story, that’s where content marketing comes into the mix.
In recent years, brands have faced a shift in what’s important to consumers. It’s not just the product people are after now, it’s the whole package: the product, the story behind the product, the brand and the story behind the brand. Brand loyalty has boomed but with it a need for these brands to solidify who they are and what they stand for, enabling consumers to engage with their personality, their tone of voice and their story. Any brand that is trending at the moment, is a brand that entices a buyer in with its story; this applies to both small and large brands. We can look to Patagonia, outdoor clothing brand, who’s brand story centers around their commitment to the environment, and to activism, their mission statements and ad campaigns reinforcing just this.
Ultimately, it is possible to get a smaller or newer brand noticed, as long as you nail “the story”. How do you nail the story? With a little bit of content marketing and a lot of digital PR.
In terms of finding that story and digging it out, it comes more readily for some brands than others. Sometimes it’s ready made, their brand has been formulated on a passion point which can be extracted from it and turned into its story. Other times it can be a little hard to find.
We recently launched a campaign called Pack of Lies for a new skincare brand called Maiiro. As a completely new brand, no one knew of them and given the saturated nature of the market, we knew a unique campaign was needed to place the brand on the skincare map. From the get go, we identified an interesting story in their brand journey, that their entire brand was formed around sustainability – and that set them apart.
Basing our campaign on their sustainable credentials, we launched Pack of Lies, a campaign that called for more transparency in the skincare and beauty industries. Calling for big well-established brands to clear up their acts and put an end to the phenomenon of ‘greenwashing‘, we wanted to prove that if small brands could do it on minute budgets, there was absolutely no excuse for big brands with huge amounts of funding behind them. It was ambitious, but it was necessary in order for an unknown brand to gain any traction with the press. We knew we couldn’t lead with the brand name – no one had heard of it. The way the brand would be noticed would be with a headline as punchy as the campaign.
The aim of any headline is to grab the attention of the reader. So, when you’re trying to PR a brand no one has heard of, you need to treat the journalist you’re reaching out to, exactly as you would the reader. The subject of any email you send a journalist needs to mimic the headline you can see starting off an article about your brand and your campaign. If it doesn’t shock, disrupt and engage, then keep working on it – the journalist will ignore it. While the process of outreaching a small brand is exactly the same as outreaching a larger brand, getting the journalist’s attention is more important than ever. They’re not going to read your pitch email this time, just because it’s a brand they’ve heard of. They’re only going to read your pitch email if there’s something significantly interesting to them in the subject line. In Maiiro’s case, it was the fact that they were a small brand fighting a big battle for sustainability, in one of the most established industries around. Yes, we’re a tiny brand but no, we’re not on board with all the crap going on in the industry. Punchy. The headlines that we were able to generate out of this story and this campaign were bold and bossy, securing 25 pieces of online coverage, with a massive online readership of 27.9 million, 141 brand and campaign mentions and 23 links back to Maiiro’s site and the campaign microsite. That’s the kind of entrance into the industry a brand without a story would find it very difficult to achieve.
So PR-ing out a small brand all hinges in the story you can create. It takes time to build the story and create the content. You definitely need to get creative, constantly thinking about what headlines you could write that would really engage an audience and a consumer. What’s going to be the most attention grabbing? What can we write that will get people to read the entire article and remember the name of this small brand? But once you’ve got a story and it really rings true for the brand, securing coverage and getting some media attention is a piece of cake.