Why public relations and SEO tactics can work hand in hand.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

As someone who is immersed in both client management and business development, I frequently hear from companies about the roles that online search and SEO play in their business.

For some of the more B2B and niche companies, especially those selling an expensive product or service, it’s important to own the first page of Google for searches around your name or the industry you serve. For B2C companies of all sizes, especially those exclusively selling products online, it’s not that online reputation isn’t important — it is — but hyperlinks pointing to your corporate URL and product pages are critical to driving revenue.

PR for SEO is now a focal point for many modern marketing programs, serving as the ultimate intersection of public relations and SEO/digital marketing. Over the years, I’ve seen many PR firms offer SEO and SEO firms offer PR, both without truly understanding how the functions can work hand in hand. Now, PR for SEO is more important than ever as a long-term investment that should not be ignored by CMOs and marketing execs. As the founder and CEO of an agency that offers this type of service, I’d like to provide more insight on how you can effectively leverage PR for SEO.

What Is PR For SEO?

For media relations and communications folks, the PR aspect of an SEO campaign is likely quite similar to what you’re hopefully already doing with clients today. We’re all familiar with how contributed content in the form of bylines and op-eds are an effective communication tool. They demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, and the published pieces often make for good sales material and social media fodder.

However, many companies either fail to understand or simply don’t prioritize the benefits of SEO that come with contributed content. These pieces are generally accompanied by a short byline of the author, typically a corporate executive, that includes a hyperlink to the website. This hyperlink is extremely valuable. When a credible website publishes your corporate name URL, Google and other search engines recognize this through algorithms as a supporting reason for why your site (and brand) is credible and should rank higher.

Further driving the SEO function, your contributed piece should incorporate keywords relevant to your product and business. The ability to secure the piece with keywords and on-brand focus, coupled with the corporate mention and URL inclusion, should now play a prominent role in most any organization’s marketing program.

How To Do It With Credibility

Now that you know how PR for SEO works, make sure you understand the ins and outs of how to do it with credibility. Before creating content, identify a list of online news sites that are open to receiving contributed insights/op-eds. Use SimilarWeb or SEMRush to get an understanding of a site’s digital audience or unique visitors per month (UVMs), a number that supports the quality of the news site and thus its published hyperlink.

Alex Deckard, an SEO Manager for Aeroflow Healthcare, reviews the total number of backlinks for a website, and also its most popular pages to better determine what that site’s audience is really looking for. He pays close attention to topics covered by the publication, knowing that content that’s relevant for his company will thus improve its ranking on Google and other search engines.

It’s important to understand the value of content writing and thought leadership. If you choose to hire a PR firm to lead your program, make sure you find one that understands this. It’s not as simple as just drafting an article and changing words around to repurpose it for other publications. Most quality news sites seek completely original and company/product-agnostic articles. After all, credible news publications have dedicated readers that deserve creative and insightful content. This means your organization cannot write an op-ed about the company itself, but more about the industry or various trends experienced as an expert within the sector.

By publishing a good article, you will likely experience more article-sharing and general buzz on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A good public relations professional should understand these nuances, and have the capability to produce solid content to power the PR-for-SEO program.

Once a few articles have been successfully placed, the process should get easier to repeat. Frequent brainstorming with corporate executives helps keep content fresh, which cannot be understated. By identifying timely topics and providing value to the publication, a high-volume PR-for-SEO strategy is very achievable.

How To Measure Results

There are a number of resources for digital marketers to measure more technical as well as traditional KPIs. Speaking traditionally, bylined articles are great sales and marketing tools and are commonly featured on corporate websites and social media platforms.

Many digital marketers and SEO specialists who manage and work with PR teams use a combination of KPIs to ultimately determine both short- and long-term return on a PR-for-SEO program, including but not limited to UVMs, URL link, quality of the news site, social shares, total link quantity, and long-term search engine position and rankings for specific online searches.

Thinking Long-Term

PR for SEO is very different than more technical onsite SEO upgrades and link-building, and must be viewed as a long-term project with significant upside. It can take days or even weeks to develop an article and identify the right news website for submission, and sometimes even longer for it to publish. These articles often stay online forever, meaning the content reflecting your current brand and values may become a permanent search result for your company and for the name of its author.

An op-ed submitted today may one day result in site traffic and sales of next year, meaning the long-term value of a PR-for-SEO campaign is something that must be featured in any marketing and communications program.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Podcasts are all the rage right now. Sure, they’ve been around for roughly 10 years, but in the last three years or so, they’ve really taken off with 50% of households reporting that they are “podcast fans” at the end of 2017. Podcasts have become a prominent medium for experts, fans and enthusiasts of all kinds to come together and share opinions, conduct interviews and take deep dives into topics across all industries. Similarly, topic-specific radio shows are a great way to drive awareness among target audiences. Understanding them can take time, as the lines between these shows and podcasts are often blurry, i.e. a program that airs live on the radio might also be posted online as a podcast series. As more niche programs are launched and gain momentum, they are a great outlet to explore to establish yourself and your company as thought-leaders in a particular industry.

Identify your spokesperson and define their expertise

Unlike an interview that will be transcribed and quoted in a written article, in a podcast, the spokesperson’s voice is heard by the audience. This may seem like a rather obvious fact, but it should be noted to emphasize how important it is for your spokesperson to be comfortable with public speaking. Even if the podcast or radio show is being pre-recorded to air later, it will still be their voice that listeners and subscribers hear. Guests with a dynamic attitude and captivating tone can go a long way. Not only does this keep up the energy level for the host conducting the interview, listeners will pick up on their passion and expertise and be more likely to research your client and their organization after hearing the interview.

Most Marketing and PR professionals can likely can think of some client spokespeople right off the top of their head who fit into the category of a dynamic interviewee. Once you have an idea of who will do the talking for a possible podcast or radio interview, you need to figure out what they will be talking about. When it comes to these shows, even those that are focused on a particular industry, the broader your spokesperson’s knowledge base is, the better. While it’s great that they can talk in-depth about their company and any current announcements or initiatives, it’s likely that the host or producer of the show won’t bite on an idea that seems too promotional or self-serving. A wider knowledge of the industry or ability to comment as an expert on a current trend is incredibly helpful. It’s good to always keep an eye and ear out for any breaking trends within the industry and discuss internally to see whether or not it’s something your company is able to offer commentary on. An expert opinion or hot take on something newsworthy can often be your foot in the door!

Search high and low for podcasts and shows

 I know I began this post by saying that podcasts are everywhere, and this is still true! However, not every one of the many shows out there will be a fit for your spokesperson’s expertise. If you are dealing with a particularly niche subject matter or industry, finding the premier, most-trusted programs will require a little research. As I mentioned before, having an expert that can comment on broader issues, even if they aren’t directly related to your company’s current initiatives, goes a long way. Let’s say your company works in veterinary oncology, can they also talk about other veterinary topics? What about general animal health or tips for pet owners? The more topics they are comfortable with, the more options you have when it comes to shows to reach out to.

Start with a simple Google search. Begin with the most specific, niche search terms your corporate leadership can speak on to see what’s available. Once you’ve explored those results and flagged any relevant targets, widen the topic and repeat the process until you’ve gotten to the broadest subject matter your expert is able to discuss. Be sure to thoroughly vet the targets you find, as you don’t want to waste time reaching out to a program that hasn’t posted a new episode in two years!

Another place to look is social media. Check in on relevant hashtags for the client’s particular industry to see if anyone is talking about a popular podcast or radio program. Follow industry reporters and other thought-leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn. You never know when they might drop a reference to a new podcast or show that would be a fit.

Make the introduction

Once you have a solid list of podcasts that you believe would be a good fit for your spokesperson, it’s time to focus on approach. You want to make an introduction as personal as possible, so the host or producer clearly understands why your spokesperson belongs on the show as a guest.

After justifying your reasoning for reaching out, share a bit on the expert and why they’re uniquely qualified to be a guest. When pitching media around a trend, any specific expertise you can offer that will set them apart is crucial. When pitching a more general introduction, highlight a unique perspective they might have that would make for a good discussion on an upcoming episode. Like with any pitch, try to keep it brief and put all your important info upfront, you only have a few precious moments to capture the target’s attention.

Podcasts and radio programs are great tools for tapping into niche audiences and building your corporate reputation as an authority on a particular subject matter. As PR and Marketing professionals, the process of researching and pitching these types of programs needs to be approached a little differently than other media relations outreach. However, by developing a keen understanding of your company’s knowledge base, keeping an eye out for industry trends and news and a solid introduction, you can lock down a great interview opportunity that will likely lead to more as your organization becomes a well-known voice in the industry!

 

Erin is an Account Manager at FischTank, working with clients across a variety of industries including renewable energy, healthcare and marketing technologies. Erin also has experience executing media relations and marketing campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations. Erin grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania and graduated from Hofstra University on Long Island. She enjoys corgis, Peanut M&Ms and classic rock. 

FischTank PR's Eric Fischgrund joins del Sol Foundation as Director of Communications

New York, NY – August 2, 2018 – FischTank Marketing and PR, a full-service communications and marketing firm, today announced that its Founder and CEO, Eric Fischgrund, has been appointed Director of Communications for the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security. The del Sol Foundation for Energy Security is an independently managed 501(c)(3) founded by members of sonnen, Inc. to oversee the implementation of humanitarian microgrids in support of communities impacted by climate disaster, such as Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

An NYC-based marcom executive with more than 12 years’ experience developing and implementing communication and branding strategies for hundreds of companies, Fischgrund will provide counsel surrounding global positioning and oversee the rollout of the del Sol Foundation’s announcements and public relations initiatives. He possesses an extensive background in renewable energy technology at both the consumer and B2B levels, and a deep understanding of communications needs for non- and not-for-profits.

“As an advocate for addressing climate change and its impact on human life everywhere by both protecting our environment and utilizing proven renewable energy sources, I am thrilled to take on an impactful role within this movement by joining the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security,” said Eric Fischgrund, Founder and CEO of FischTank. “As citizens of the United States in need, residents of Puerto Rico deserve access to basic power and innovations that have boosted distressed communities on the mainland. del Sol’s vision of empowering communities to rise above energy crises by implementing next-generation technologies that promote resiliency is a story that transcends everyday business, and one I look forward to sharing.”

“With Eric joining the del Sol Foundation as Director of Communications, our team gains an industry veteran, a clean energy advocate, and a non-profit leader who will be instrumental in helping us share the stories and true impact of our microgrids,” said Michelle Mapel, Vice-President of the del Sol Foundation. “Unfortunately, we are experiencing increasing natural disasters and climate changes around the world, creating a greater need for energy resiliency to ensure a basic quality of life for global civilization. The del Sol Foundation was established as a non-profit that we can all contribute to in order to support communities facing energy challenges.”

The del Sol Foundation was formed behind a vision and plan for providing “a hand up, not a handout” to Puerto Rican communities ravaged by storms and in desperate need of power. The Foundation utilizes solar + storage technology in the form of microgrids to go beyond simply providing energy solutions for a singular location, empowering community leaders and citizens to collaborate and rise above the crisis created by disasters like Hurricane Maria. This vantage point was evident at the 12 microgrids installed following Hurricane Maria that served as methods for rebuilding remote communities and catalysts for change in how energy consumption is addressed, a vision now being applied in the form of the largest and most comprehensive solar + storage projects to date. The ambitious “Lighthouse Project” for Puerto Rico will be announced by the del Sol Foundation in the coming weeks.

About del Sol Foundation for Energy Security

The del Sol Foundation for Energy Security is a 501c3 organization founded in 2017. The Foundation is an independent entity whose mission is to provide aid to individuals and entire communities in need, including those impacted by energy instability, who would benefit from clean, reliable and affordable energy. The Foundation’s work in Puerto Rico serves as an example of success in effectively engaging and empowering local community leaders, local citizens and local businesses with “a hand up, not a handout“ and producing true resiliency in the face of natural disasters. For more information about the Foundation, please visit: http://www.delsolfoundation.org/

About FischTank Marketing and PR

FischTank Marketing and Public Relations is a full-service communications and marketing firm serving clients spanning various industries, including but not limited to renewable technology and sustainability, emerging technologies, real estate, business and marketing technologies, biotech and life sciences, financial services, and non-profits. Incorporating an integrated strategy consisting of media relations, community engagement, digital/social media, copywriting, PR to support SEO, and outbound marketing, FischTank helps clients amplify their message with results that impact their bottom line. For more information, visit http://www.FischTankPR.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – @Fisch_Tank

 

Contact Information

Katelyn Barone

FischTank Marketing and PR

katelyn@fischtankpr.com

646 699 1414

 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank provides crisis communications for a number of public and private companies

While no one ever wants to think about the potential for negative or controversial news, many businesses often encounter challenges that result in an unwanted spotlight. It’s imperative that  the company’s marketing and public relations professionals take the time to prepare messaging that is simple and targeted to the audience at hand for when controversy arrives. As one of the Founding Fathers (allegedly) said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. When preparing to address media questioning ahead of time, be sure to think about the audiences below.

Stakeholders.

If you’re a public company, it’s extremely important to maintain transparent communication with those who have invested in your success (or struggles) as a brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean over sharing – you shouldn’t put out news releases just for the sake of doing so – but instead for important milestones that show the growth and trajectory of the company. Unfortunately, not all news that you share will be music to investor ears, which is why you must have a crisis communications plan in place to address issues so your shareholder base isn’t left feeling angry and confused.

You can also be sure that investors will ask questions of your colleagues and partners, especially those listed as a contact on press releases. Since a media relations professional isn’t always an investor relations contact, nor at liberty to discuss certain information with investors, you have to prepare for next steps. Ensure a set protocol is in place for how all members of your team address investor inquiries, and be sure that that you can refer investors to the appropriate contact. What may seem like a simple question (i.e. how has a certain part of the company grown?) is not always something a media relations or marketing professional should disclose. If your company doesn’t focus on the investor relations aspect of marcomm, be sure to educate your colleagues on the dos and don’ts of working for a public company.

Customers.

Building positive rapport with customers is crucial for any company, especially in the age of social media where someone can share a rave review – as well as an unfavorable one – to the masses with the click of a button. You must actively work with your public relations team to share out pertinent information to customers in a timely fashion.

Social media is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach key audiences, but it comes with the expectation that your company must also respond quickly to inquiries from the public, including those who may not be happy with the company. Anticipate common questions and concerns based on previous interactions but also common sense. For example, if you launched a new initiative, it may take time for people to fully understand its objectives, and naturally questions will follow.

Journalists.

For the reporters that express interest in your company and who have invested time in covering your milestones, it’s important to be honest and straightforward about less than ideal news. It’s understandable that you may not be comfortable discussing negative news with the press, but ultimately in order to maintain transparency and an honest relationship with reporters, you have to make yourself available.

Look within your organization to identify the right person to speak with the media, which is something your public relations colleagues or partners can assist with. Most likely the best spokesperson will be someone who is already media trained and will understand the way press inquiries work. Even with that in mind, discussing potentially damaging news is a different animal, and requires further approval on messaging and a candid conversation with both internal and external partners to make sure everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario. Be sure to be realistic based on the media inquiries at hand; if your pick for an ideal company representative has never been in front of a camera or on a live program, now is not the time to test their skills.

Obviously, you will not always be lucky enough to prepare for a crisis before it strikes. For news that you are privy to in advance, whether it be missed revenues, downsizing, or another issue, take ample time to formulate a communications plan that clearly outlines the role of reach team member (from both your company and your agency partners), correct messaging, and a spokesperson that is ready to address all issues tactfully. After you’ve made it through to the other side of a crisis, be sure to review your process and address what went well and what could be improved. Getting your crisis communications plan organized ahead of time can make the process smoother for all involved .

FischTank Marketing and Public Relations

Last week we shared articles on lead generation and inbound marketing, and today we’re sharing a few of the better public relations-focused content we read or were sent this week:

5 Public Relations Myths BUSTED

“This is why PR is most effective over a long period of time. My recommendation is to consider PR as a basic necessity for marketing your business and outreach should continue on a regular basis, as long as your company is in existence. In other words, PR shouldn’t stop until you do.”

One Of The Web’s Most Prolific Online Marketing Writers Has Been Promoting His Clients In Articles For Forbes, Entrepreneur, And Inc. Magazine

“Credible publications have policies against contributors accepting money from people or companies they write about, and they require writers to disclose any personal or business relationship with people or companies they mention.”

Public Relations: Seven Ways to Tell Your Story

“Don’t just talk “inside baseball” to your own community. Think outside the box. How has your business helped others in the community — not just your own bottom line?”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Like many marketing and communications firms, the FischTank team often hears from current and prospective clients “How do I drive web traffic?”

Many times, we can help by strategically placing articles that drive potential customers, clients or investors, or by securing articles and bylines laden with backlinks that support and drive SEO.

There is an abundance of information to read on the Internet (duh!) on this subject matter, and this is what we’re reading this week:

Marketing Technology Tactics To Increase Engagement and Attract Attention

“Change happens at the speed of technology for marketing professionals, but your agency can adapt to this rapid pace by leveraging these changes.”

Influencer Marketing Done Right Can Drive All The Traffic To Your Newly-Launched Wesbite

“Unless you already have a bursting-at-the-seams Rolodex and a stable of superfans who are waiting impatiently for anything and everything you give birth to in the world, you might be cutting the ribbon of your new business, blog, site, app, community, or nonprofit to a fever-pitch crowd of bumpkiss.”

Inbound Marketing Not Bringing You Results? Try This.

“According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, businesses that focus primarily on inbound marketing save more than $14 on acquiring each new customer. Further, 80% of B2B decision makers prefer consuming brand related content over advertising while making a purchase decision.”

SEO Game Changers Influencing Business Growth in the Year 2018

“SEO is the best way to gain a significant presence on the world wide web. SEO trends are constantly evolving with the changing landscapes. To stay competitive, you’ll have to be constantly aware and update your strategy as needed.”

How SEO And Content Marketing Work Together To Fuel Your Online Success

“SEO without content marketing is like a body without a soul. In particular, SEO is actually strategized around content marketing since every website needs words, articles, substance, keywords, etc. In order to be successful, both must go hand in hand.”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank media coverage generates ROI

***This blog post originally appeared on CommProBiz***

Whether potential clients or companies we’ve already partnered with, at some point comes the question:

“How do we measure success?”

“What is the ROI for media exposure?”

“Is this working?”

These are fair questions that must be asked, and the answer is the same every time – your ROI depends on your objective. Some organizations retain PR and Marketing firms because they’re looking to achieve some form of conversion, such as a sale or new business lead. Others do so because they seek to use media placements as content for some marketing function, perhaps as signage at a trade show, or as a marketing/sales touchpoint like an e-mail blast. Others evaluate media relations efforts for the SEO and online marketing value they bring, especially when a hyperlink is included.

The point is, each company and organization that retains a firm like ours should know exactly what their objective is prior to engaging, or at least let that become a focal point for strategy discussion.

If it’s e-commerce, or the sale of products via a website, then you may be looking at a two-pronged approach for success. One – how do you create impactful media results that drive interested customers to the website to make a purchase? Two – how do you improve your online search position so that when people Google or conduct other online searches around certain terms, your company name shows up on the first page or within the first few entries?

The former of the two approaches is obvious – to produce media coverage that directly reaches consumers and influences their buying decisions. To this point, no two pieces of media exposure are created equal. If a media relations team secures an article in USA Today, yes, that could drive traffic. But also consider the audience. If the article is about something technical in nature, there’s a very good chance the ROI of said USA Today article could be very low. However, if that very same article were to publish in a blog read by only 8,000 people, but who also happen to be your specific customer type, you could very well garner more sales/conversion from that blog exposure. To this effect – focus on the audience, not the circulation.

With respect to the second approach regarding online search, the value of strong digital content may be difficult to measure per individual piece, but the sum of all efforts most definitely can be quantified. More and more often we work with companies whose primary objective is the search engine optimization (SEO) value of the media coverage we secure on their behalf. Will a hyperlink be included? Will it be chock full of keywords that also mirror the search terms your company wants to rank for? Will these articles show up on the first page of Google? Securing high quality link backs to corporate URLs on a constant basis will ultimately drive traffic for, and interest in, a company.

“Not so fast! My company doesn’t conduct business online. We’re very B2B, and most of our business comes from networking, our sales/marketing team, or (insert some other form of sales process or transaction)”

Let’s take a step back. Despite what some may say about the current state of media, there is still a significant trust that comes with media exposure. Being quoted or featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, NPR, influential trade publications, and others still provide tremendous value. Whether you’re a pre-revenue company seeking investors or a 100-person organization that relies on its sales team, media exposure gives you one crucial asset: touchpoints.

If you’ve ever signed onto LinkedIn and seen a CEO of a competitor posting about being quoted in an important article, that’s a touchpoint. If you’ve ever seen a blog post on a website highlighting “recent media coverage in ________),” that’s a touchpoint. The same can be said for media placements sent via e-mail to shareholders, PDFs of articles sitting on table tops at conferences, and “As Featured By” sections on the front page of a website.

What these examples demonstrate is simple: expertise and relevancy. Media coverage means your company understands its role within its respective market, speaks intelligently to its audience, and understands the value in thought leadership.

Of course, these ideas listed above are not comprehensive public relations strategies, they’re singular tactics desired to achieve specific objectives. Everyone wants (and deserves) to know the value they’re receiving when they commit time and budget to a public relations campaign. By looking in the mirror and asking themselves what they want and need most, companies can attain media exposure that yields both long and short-term return on investment.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

NYC PR Firm

The holiday season has returned, and so too have the festive parties, good tidings, snowy sidewalks, NYC congestion, positive and informative conversations on social media, and of course — holiday music.

Like any other small business, FischTank likes to constantly argue music, and we are pretty confident that each of our opinions are the correct one. With that in mind, the FischTank Marketing and PR team presents their favorite songs of the season. Happy holidays all!

Fabricio Costa — Account Executive: Julian Casablancas – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

“I hold The Strokes very dear and they’ve always oddly but gratifyingly dropped new music around important dates in my life. This rendition of the SNL classic was in The Strokes’ vocalist Julian Casablancas’ debut album Phrases for the Young as a bonus track in 09 when I was a Junior in high school. Aside from featuring one of my all-time favorite vocalists, this cover did so well they actually did a live version of it on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show and Acura picked it up for a commercial that made that little synth jingle stuck in our heads throughout the entire holiday season.

Besides, who doesn’t wish it was Christmas today?”

Erin Hadden — Account Executive: Glenn Miller Orchestra: “Sleigh Ride

“I had to dig deep for my pick, but I finally landed on Glenn Miller Orchestra’s rendition of Sleigh Ride. Every year for as long as I can remember, my dad puts together his time-tested, critically-acclaimed mix of CDs to play during our extended Christmas festivities. This song is always the first track from the first CD he queues up. For this reason, it’s become the song that most strongly represents my family’s holiday traditions through the years.”

Kyle Evans — Account Manager: Bruce Springsteen: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town

“One of my favorite holiday songs is Bruce Springsteen’s performance of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” which might sound typical for a New Jersey native, but it’s mainly from being raised by two Springsteen fanatics.”

Katelyn Barone — Account Manager: “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie

“This is one of my favorite holiday songs because this was such an unlikely pairing that turned out to create a great Christmas duet. While I’m more familiar with David Bowie and have always been a fan, Bing Crosby is a classic especially around the holidays.”

Hilary Donnell — Account Director: “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues

“Fairytale of New York is one of my favorite Christmas songs because it’s more authentic than many of the songs we hear around the holidays, and reminds me of my dad, a major influence in my passion for music. Plus, the song would’ve never existed without Elvis Costello betting Shane MacGowan that couldn’t write a duet with bass player Cait O’Riordan. MacGowan did, then Elvis married her!”

Kate Caruso-Sharpe — Account Director: “Winter Wonderland / Here Comes Santa Claus” from the Pitch Perfect 2 Soundtrack

“While you’ll always find the classics like Mariah Carey and NSYNC on my holiday playlist, my favorite song as of late is “Winter Wonderland / Here Comes Santa Claus” from the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack. The Pitch Perfect series is a classic (at least in our house) and the mash-up between Anna Kendrick and Snoop Dogg is simply acca-awesome.”

Matt Bretzius — President: The Christmas Shoes” by New Song

“A young boy wants to buy a Christmas gift for his cancer-stricken mother. But once he reached the store, he did not have enough money for the ruby red Christmas shoes he had his heart set on. Thankfully a good samaritan (played by a young Rob Lowe, no less) steps up and purchases the shoes for the boy, who rushes home to place them on his mother’s feet just before she dies. It’s the consummate Christmas story. I’m not crying, you’re crying.”

Eric Fischgrund — Founder: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by James Taylor

“Yes, I chose the same song as Kyle Evans, but it’s for the right reason. Sorry New Jersey, but my artist is better:  JT > Bruce. This is my favorite holiday song because it was one of my favorite Christmas tunes as a kid, and James Taylor music always makes me think of my parents, who are big fans of his. JT was the first concert I ever attended, at age ten, with my parents and life long buddy Kyle Johnson.”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Equity crowdfunding appears to represent a simple solution for businesses – both start up and firmly established – that are looking to raise money to fund their vision. By allowing investors (and fans of the brand) to invest in their company online, companies view this funding mechanism as a way to bypass banks, brokers, and toxic financers. You file significantly reduced SEC-paperwork, throw a website up, and wait for your offering to go viral. Once the internet does its thing and your hyperlink is shared by e-mail as well as endless Facebook and Twitter accounts, the raise will be complete and you can begin planning the listing of your IPO.

If this seems too easy and too good to be true, you’re right – it is.

Unfortunately, too many companies and individuals are being talked into this strategy without the appropriate background information, and as such, the results of poorly executed crowdfunding campaigns are much easier to find than the success stories.

But there are success stories that were made possible only because of those who adequately planned for them. Over the past year, I have spoken with at least 30 companies considering some form of equity crowdfunding (Regulation A+, Reg CF, 506c, testing the waters, etc.). One thing I am continuously surprised by are those who are unprepared to commence an online raise.

As such, here are some general tips for marketing an equity crowdfunding campaign:

  1. No two campaigns are alike. Like any marketing or communications initiative, no two companies are the same, and thus, no two crowdfunding campaigns should be executed the same way. The biggest mistake I see is thinking that a one-size-fits-all marketing approach that “worked really well in the past for another company and their raise” – will be successful. It won’t.

“Successful equity crowdfunding does require a great marketing plan executed by a creative marketing team,” said Kendall Almerico, CEO of Bankroll Ventures and one of the country’s leading experts on equity crowdfunding. “Coca Cola, Cadillac and Calvin Klein do not market their brands the same way. Equity crowdfunding companies must engage a team that understands and markets the company in a unique way that stands out from all the noise.”

Take this into consideration before planning, as each company and campaign requires its own messaging, its own advertising strategy, and its own look and feel. Figure out what your strengths are, and market to them. For example, if your story has great visuals, find a way to leverage it via some form of multimedia, preferably video. Perhaps you are an emerging company working in a high-growth industry with plenty of competition. Focus on how to differentiate yourself from the competition, while outlining the existing market opportunity and what it means for you and your investors.

  1. Get your online presence in order. Raising money from a diverse audience and group of sources can be difficult, but nothing makes equity crowdfunding so challenging as to do so with a poorly designed or ill-functioning website. The investment website is the primary way you are soliciting funds, and as such needs to clearly lead potential investors through the offering process. Think about it – using the analogy of an open house – why leave your trash on the front lawn, not fix the fence, and neglect a new paint job? Getting your digital presence ready means focusing on messaging for the website, carefully reviewing the design and aesthetics, proofing all content, and last but not least – making sure the user experience is a positive one! Do not underestimate the importance of the landing page for your online offering.

Further, legal context with regards to selling securities online must be considered. “General solicitation under the JOBs Act can open up many doors for a company seeking investments, but please, run your proposed content by your securities lawyer,” said Andrea Cataneo, securities attorney with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

“Solicitation can mean advertising, webinars, internet offerings, group presentations, but it does not mean hype or exaggeration.”

  1. Identify and market to your audience. Understanding your ideal investor profile isn’t easy, but it needs to be done to build and leverage a captive audience. If you are a company reading this and looking to raise money online, and already possess an existing database of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of contacts (be it customers, clients, partners, etc.) with e-mail addresses, congratulations! You are ahead of the curve. Or, perhaps you already have a good feel for the sort of individual who is likely to invest in your company, and now you just need to go about marketing directly to them. Review site demographics, consider the profile of past investors and interested parties, and try to make that determination early, but… 
  1. …If you don’t have an existing audience, build one. Far too often a company approaches us with a great idea, a designed website and video that clearly spells out the investment opportunity, and a strong message for the media. This should result in success, right? Well, not always. Equity crowdfunding requires some form of direct marketing, and to do so, a company must have a base, either a significant social media following or a database consisting of contact information. If you don’t, social media advertising has proven to be a lead driver of web traffic and conversions. Consider running a Facebook advertising or Google AdWords campaign that drives specifically targeted people to your investment landing page. As many know, online advertising can be precisely targeted, and is a great way to get an idea and offering in front of potential investors.
  1. Stay credible, my friends. Ah, so you finally have it figured out! Plan and processes? Check. Significant database to market to? Check. Brilliantly laid out investment landing page that seamlessly takes investors through the process? Check. Perhaps you are missing one last tool – news flow. Most public companies know this already – distributing press releases that outline corporate announcements, market opportunities, industry events, and other newsworthy items are proven ways to remind current and potential investors that you are a very active company. Similarly, getting featured in third-party, earned media (no pay for plays!) builds credibility, whether it’s in a trade publication, a daily newspaper, radio show, or broadcast television. Working with a media relations and corporate communications firm is a great way to produce press coverage, and reminds investors that you are a real company making news within a high-growth industry.

Equity crowdfunding was meant to spur innovation and growth, while providing Main Street investors with a means to access high growth companies. It is certainly not an untapped source where everyday web users are patiently waiting to visit an online investment opportunity. Be prepared, be proactive, and remain top of mind, and maybe the idea hatched in your own home will one day be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank Public Relations

FischTank is seeking individuals with anywhere from two to ten (2-10) years’ public relations experience, with a focus on media outreach and account management. The titles of Account Manager and Account Director are best suited for a team player who appreciates working in an up tempo, positive company culture.

Work is autonomous, proactive, and as minimally administrative as possible. FischTank prides itself upon being results oriented on behalf of its clients. Core client industries include clean technology (sustainability), marketing and business technology solutions, non-profits, financial services, biotech, and professional services.

FischTank possesses a strong company culture, frequently providing team lunches and happy hours, educational seminars and resources, and more.

Please apply by e-mailing careers@fischtankpr.com 

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Media relations
  • Strong writing skills
  • Experience with relevant PR tools (Cision/HootSuite/etc.)
  • Positive attitude
  • Story identification skills
  • Familiarity with top tier and trade media
  • Works well with a team
  • Media results

About FischTank

FischTank Marketing and PR is a full-service communications and marketing firm serving clients spanning various industries including but not limited to clean technology, business and marketing technologies, marketing/ad tech, emerging technology, real estate, and non-profits. Incorporating an integrated strategy consisting of public relations, SEM/SEO, digital/social media, copywriting, and outbound marketing, FischTank helps clients amplify their message with results that impact their bottom line.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.