Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become popular with many entrepreneurs. Come up with a project, launch it on one of the sites, and rake in money that people are willing to give, providing they like they see.

And so the entrepreneurs often get completely excited and decide to spread the news far and wide. Like anything else, if you don't tell people, they can't get excited.

But many of the project pushers have been going off the deep end -- possibly because they are new to trying to run their own business. This is particularly true when trying to get press coverage. Getting coverage for something like this is important if you want to succeed. Many projects don't because being on a site doesn't mean getting support.

You have to reach the people who will get interested or excited enough about a project to send money. Simply trusting to posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other social network are unlikely to do it if you don't have a lot of followers. (Here's a hint: viral marketing, the way too many people assume it works, almost never happens.)

Every week I typically receive multiple pitches about crowdfunded projects. I suspect I'm on the light end of the traffic continuum. And virtually every time I see people making major mistakes that will probably get their missives sent directly to the circular file. Here are the major things that you want to avoid when trying to get attention.

Assume that all crowdsourced projects are newsworthy

Reporters are looking for material that is newsworthy. That means something that their audiences will want to hear about over the many other things they could learn of instead. Having a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project might have been newsworthy on its own account some years ago, because the platforms themselves weren't established. Those days are long passed. Unless you have recognizable names involved, that approach is weak because there are so many other people doing it as well.

Think the reporter is there to promote you

There's a huge difference between journalists and hired PR representatives. Don't ask for them to spread the news or help you reach your goal. They don't care and shouldn't. If you can't find a strong argument as to why the reporter's audience would find the news interesting or useful, don't even bother getting in contact.

Claiming how quickly you hit a goal

Seeing big popularity can be an argument in your project's favor, however, that comes with some big questions. Too many projects have tried to gin their numbers up by having friends, family, and insiders donate a lot -- essentially a con game. Many in the press are aware of these tactics and have become wary of the goal-smashing claims. Not that you shouldn't mention success, by any means, but make it secondary. First focus has to be why the project will be of significant interest to the specific audience.

Not knowing the people on the press list

There are companies that have targeted people with crowdfunded projects. They usually claim to have press lists that will get the project in front of hundreds or thousands of reporters. I can't speak about all the services, but the ones I've become aware of are simply scraping journalist emails from wherever they can find them. They have no relationship to the journalists, and even if they did, that wouldn't extend to a third party -- i.e., you -- sending a pitch. Research to find the far fewer reporters who actually might cover a product like yours and then put together your own list. It will likely be more effective and certainly cheaper.

Spamming

Sending one message after another begging for coverage won't endear you to anyone. Send something brief, centering on why this project will be of legitimate interest to the reporter's audience, and then allow the reporter to respond. Some won't mind a single follow-up in a week or two. (Personally, as I look at all pitches, I never want to see a follow-up -- and certainly not a day or two later.) The more you contact, the more you might as well claim to be a lawyer representing the estate of the Right Honorable Horace K. Hackenbush who wants to bestow a $50,000,000 bequest, just send your bank details now.

Published on: Nov 23, 2015