Posts

LinkedIn is a social platform FischTank utilizes to augment many a client's PR program

One of the things the entire FischTank team advocates is the importance of consistent messaging across web, media relations, sales literature, email marketing and social media.

For B2B industries, LinkedIn is such an important tool within marketing and communications, and has the ability to positively impact the public’s perception of a brand or individual. People and organizations need to be informative, compelling, knowledgeable and most important – authentic.

I shared some of my thoughts on this subject, specifically with respect to authenticity and frequency of posting, with Kiely Kuligowski of Business News Daily for an article entitled LinkedIn for Business: Everything You Need to Know.

It’s a small tidbit, but I hope readers find it useful. I’ve always placed a premium on my LinkedIn network, and its been instrumental to me and FischTank as we’ve grown this business.

Your PR firm should be asking about your social strategy and thinking about how it can improve your marketing and communications functions, and ultimately achieve your organization’s objectives.

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.

Marketing Summit in D.C. - SEO in 2019: New Strategies, New Tactics

The good news: a very kind industry contact has invited me to speak on a panel titled, SEO in 2019: New Strategies, New Tactics, at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit in Washington D.C. on Friday, April 26th.

The bad news: I need to prepare to speak in front of hundreds of marketing and communications executives throughout the region attending an event to discuss high-level issues through a series of panels, keynotes, presentations, exhibits, and networking.

OK, it’s not all bad (just a little intimidating), and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really looking forward to the Marketing Summit.

In addition to my genuine interest in FischTank’s practice areas, I’m equally interested in why and how public relations can impact marketing. This is why our team has put so much time into understanding the intersection of Public Relations and SEO, the practice of utilizing media relations and content marketing to impact search engine results and position. This is a strategy we employ for our clients that conduct their business primarily online, generating leads to support business development, increasing traffic to ecommerce platforms, and other objectives that come with the daily grind of online marketing.

I can wax poetic (sure?) and explain why companies should hire FischTank (yes, you should!), but I’ll take the rest of the time in this blog ahead of the Marketing Summit to ask some friends and peers in my network what they think about this topic:

“In a world of links of dubious value, true, expertly done PR generates not just publicity for the business, but good links that continue to reverberate throughout search engines. We typically see media earned links as some of the most valuable links when conducting SEO analysis. I’d encourage everyone to look at their business for hidden opportunities for press.” – Josh Greene, CMO for The Mather Group and the moderator of the upcoming panel at the Marketing Summit.

“The intersection of PR & SEO is critical as PR provides one of the best opportunities to attract links from high quality publications to your site. With links still remaining one of the top two search engine ranking factors your PR efforts can increase your sites authority, rankings & traffic. It’s important for your PR & SEO teams to be on the same page and to know for instance that getting links to the primary website is much more important than social media channels and to also push your contacts to make sure they include proper link attribution in their coverage.” – Ryan O’Connor, Founder of One Tribe Apparel

“Content is meaningless if no one can find it in search. Whether it’s a hard earned news article, a well-crafted blog post, or even a mention by an influencer, ensuring that your content is properly tagged, titled, optimized, and focused on your brands keywords are critical for ensuring search success. A properly curated digital reputation need not rely on a deluge of content but rather a few well crafted, strategic pieces that reflect the best about you or your business. It makes no sense to waste precious space in your search results for poorly written, meaningless content merely designed to fool the algorithm. Better to leverage the power of search to shape the reputation you need and want.” – Sam Michelson, CEO and Founder of Five Blocks

“Google is smart. Once upon a time, if you threw enough links any links at a site, it would rank. That’s not the case anymore. A site needs live mentions on topically relevant, high authority sites (with or without a link). Google’s bot is smart enough to know when your brand name is mentioned in an article in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. A link in that article is the icing on the cake.” – Alex Deckard, SEO Manager, Aeroflow Healthcare 

“Companies looking to raise capital from either the public or institutional investors need to be cognizant of their message to the market, but also the results search engines show when people are doing their due diligence. This is especially true in emerging industries, such as cannabis, cryptocurrency, renewable technologies, and others where competition is fierce and there is an increased need to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. This is where media relations and content marketing come into play, ensuring both transparency and a high quality of results appear when someone Googles or otherwise searches a brand.” – Kendall Almerico, Principal at Almerico Law

“In recent years, SEO has become much more precise, more transparent, and more results oriented. As a result, public relations has started to play an even more important role in the successful management of SEO. It has become obvious to marketers that if you want your business to be visible and easily found, you have to understand that there is no successful SEO without proper PR.” – Larissa Pitersky, Chief Financial Officer of Apex Capital Partners

 

 

 

 

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.

The FischTank team is very proud to share that it sponsored ‘A Night Out with City Year,” an American education nonprofit organization founded in 1988 dedicated to helping students and schools succeed

The event is the City Year New York Associate Board’s 12th annual spring fundraiser. Held at Rockefeller Center, this night brings together 250 young professionals for a chance to network, mingle, and learn about City Year’s service and impact in schools across New York City.

The organization deploys 246 highly skilled AmeriCorps members to serve in 22 elementary and middle schools. Each school has a team of diverse and talented 18-25 year-olds helping in the school community. In FY17, nearly a third of our corps, 32%, were serving in an area where they are from. Together, this team positively impacts thousands of students every day.

To learn more about City Year New York, please click here. FischTank supports a number of non-profit organizations in providing marketing and media relations services. To learn more, please click here.

 

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.

Public Relations and Marketing

FischTank Marketing and PR Founder Eric Fischgrund will speak on an upcoming January 31st panel entitled, “How to grow your B2B business in 2019 – what works best for organic growth?” He will discuss the role of media relations, content marketing and digital strategies to achieve this goal.

The free event is hosted by B2B Growth (B2BNXT), and will include other speakers including Forrest Leighton, Scott Swanson and Patrick Charron. To learn more, please click the link here or below.

How to grow your B2B business in 2019 – what works best for organic growth?

Thursday, Jan 31, 2019, 6:00 PM

85 Broad Street
27th Floor, 85 Broad Street New York, ny

23 Members Attending

The event is free to attend, featuring awesome food + drinks and an even better panel discussion! We ask that you are working at a B2B company in a marketing/business development capacity (or you’re the owner). We bring 5 special panelists (including the VP of Marketing at MakerBot), all with extensive experience helping B2B companies beat their co…

Check out this Meetup →

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 Marketing and PR

I’m not sure how to start this post. As I begin, I’m at 33,000 feet – cruising altitude as they say – and some guy two seats up on the right has been taking selfies of himself for the last 10 minutes, grinning as he reviews them. Insta-worthy? Maybe. It seems pretty weird to me, but no one else seems to care so why should I? I’m returning from a business trip to Asheville with two colleagues, making this as good a time as any to start reflecting on the past five years of FischTank.

The LLC paperwork for EMF Media d.b.a FischTank was filed in late December 2013; I put in notice at a place where I was very unhappy, and brought my first client aboard shortly into the new year. I had limited experience in business development, even less experience in bookkeeping, and now – very little income. Still, I was excited in a professional sense for the first time in a long time.

The first few months were not easy (try working at home when you only have two clients). I took meetings that went nowhere, attended networking events that had no purpose, and at one point went door to door to try and win contracts from small businesses in Jersey City. I also drove my wife crazier than usual. There were sleepless nights, stressed out mornings, and a never-ending supply of self-doubt. Those feelings haven’t gone away and I don’t think they ever will, but in early 2014, that was my 24/7. Funny how something can suck and be so exciting at the same time.

But this story isn’t about me or the “entrepreneurial struggle” that many of the self-proclaimed experts drone on about on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The FischTank story is and has always been about people. I was joined by Matt Bretzius, my partner at FischTank, who is smarter and more disciplined than I am. There is a 0% chance this company is anything beyond me in my apartment living room without him. We made one hire, then we made another, and now we have a growing group of bright, creative, and really unique professionals people. Gone are the days of my personally PDF’d invoices, disorganized spreadsheets, and envelopes stuffed with receipts from coffee shops and cab rides. We now have a bookkeeper who is actually good at math and record keeping. We started partnering more strategically with other marketing, SEO/digital, creative, and PR agencies, building a stronger referral network filled with individuals who have also helped shape the company.

Our clients are awesome. I don’t write that to kiss ass, it’s just reality. Collectively they’re a group of innovative and smart risk-takers, and a pleasure to work with each day. Nothing drives us more than when we see how hard they work to achieve their own goals. We enjoy telling their stories.

To everyone who falls into a category above, I’m eternally grateful for what you’ve done. You know who you are. To all of my colleagues, past and present, this five-year milestone is for you as much as it is for Matt and I.

It’s not all roses and sunshine. We’ve learned many lessons, some of them painful but each of them valuable. Sure there were partnerships, hires and clients that didn’t quite fit, and while not everything ends well, through it all we’ve maintained our integrity and evolved. From these experiences, we’ve built a positive culture we can be proud of.

The only takeaway or piece of advice I have for others, should you choose to listen, is to place a premium on resiliency. Bad days, weeks and months will come. You will get home late after a bad day and think maybe you’re not cut out for this stuff. Self-doubt will creep in when you’re at your most vulnerable and it will eat away your confidence. When this all happens, you cannot give in. Get up, show up, and keep coming at them.

The last five years have been the best education and experience I could ask for, exceeding any and all expectations I had on January 15, 2014. Will FischTank last forever? No, nothing does, but we’re having a helluva lot of fun today.

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.

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.

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 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.