The Power of PR for DTC Brands

If you’re trapped in the cycle of “paying to play” and spending loads of money on Facebook ads to acquire customers that disappear after one purchase…

Or struggling to grow brand awareness and build a loyal customer base…

You may want to consider upping your PR game. 😎

The truth is, as the DTC space gets more saturated, PR can be an absolute game-changer to help brands stand out among the crowd.

To bring you the latest insights on the state of PR, we reached out to none other than public relations and content marketing visionary Lauren Kleinman.

Lauren is the founder of Dreamday, a first-of-its-kind performance PR consultancy bridging the gap between affiliate marketing and top-tier content. (She was also a recent guest on the DTC Pod!)

Here are the takeaways from our conversation with Lauren, including why PR matters, how you can “DIY” your PR strategy, what publishers look for in brands, and many other PR pro tips! 👇

🤷 What is PR, anyway?

Public Relations (PR) is any type of “earned media,” such as a third-party review, an editorial piece, or an organic mention by a celeb.

(This is different from “owned media” which consists of outlets you control and own, like paid advertising.)

However, it’s important to know that today–especially in the DTC space–traditional PR tactics won’t cut it anymore.

Effective, modern-day programs should utilize two approaches in tandem: affiliate/performance PR and editorial/earned PR.

Affiliate/performance typically utilizes affiliate links, where publications make a percentage of the sale anytime someone buys the product.

Editorial/earned PR is when publications write for sheer editorial or media purposes, and aren’t making money through affiliate links.

Attacking both avenues at the same time provides the most effective strategy for brands in the ever-changing, hyper-competitive DTC media space. 👊

A third-party review of Outer furniture on CNN  (utilizing affiliate links).

🤔 Do DTC brands really need PR?

Over recent years, shoppers have moved online and the direct-to-consumer model has exploded. However, that also means the competition among DTC brands is getting fierce…

It’s no longer enough to just be selling a product online— you have to stand out . You need a differentiator; an interesting story; a really creative or necessary product.

PR helps brands shine. ✨ It’s all about telling the story of your company and highlighting what makes you special or unique.

A thoughtful PR strategy gets your story in front of more people and creates more touchpoints that drive brand affinity and loyalty—all KEYS to long-term success and making sure you’re not “just another brand” in the crowded DTC space.

📝 What can smaller brands do to “DIY” their PR strategy?

Not every brand has the budget to hire a PR firm. Luckily, Lauren gave us plenty of tips for DIY-ing your own PR strategy!

1️⃣ Harness nano- and micro-influencers on social media to help spread brand awareness

These days, it’s not hard to find great creators that are willing to work within your budget. Identify a few that align with your brand and partner with them to help you spread the good word and gain third-party validation.

2️⃣ Foster relationships with a few key publications you want to be featured in

One strategy is to send editors a free product (should they agree to receive it) and ask for their authentic opinion. If they’re a fan of your goods, they may just feature you in a piece or write a third-party review, which can add a ton of validation and credibility to your brand.

Third-party review of Ritual on Buzzfeed,  prompted by free samples sent to the editor.

(This totally catapulted the brand, BTW.)

3️⃣ Pitch publishers with your unique brand story

Publishers are always looking for juicy things to write about. If your brand has an interesting founder story, an inspiring success tale, or a super unique product, consider “pitching” publishers with an idea for a piece.

So, your job is to help serve the story up for them on a silver platter!

If you can, include the following to juice up your pitch even more:

  • Big influencers or celebrity ties
  • Hype metrics (this product has sold out X times)
  • “Newness” (a never-before-seen product or angle)
  • Offer preferred commission rates on sales from the piece (15-20%)

On the other hand, sometimes it’s worth it to invest in a reputable Performance PR agency. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, if you have lofty growth goals, need help expanding brand awareness, want a boost to your affiliate marketing, or simply need strategic guidance, a reputable agency can take your brand to the next level.

🙌 How can brands set themselves up for PR success?

After working with countless clients over the years, Lauren’s identified a few common themes that publishers (and PR agencies) tend to look for in brands.

Be “Instagrammable”

In the world of public relations, it pays to be pretty.

Shallow, we know, but the reality is that media outlets (and their audiences) will typically be drawn to brands that are brightly colored, have trendy or “buzzy” designs, and high-quality photography.

📖 Know your story

Make sure you know what your brand’s “killer story” is before pitching to publishers, whether it’s a founder story, an interesting product, or a tale of massive success.

Another way to think of it: “what is your dream headline for this brand/product?” and work backward from there.

🏆 Have a good product, period

No matter how good you look, how compelling your story is, or how talented your PR agent is, if you don’t have a product that people want, it’ll be hard to sell anyone on your brand.

In order for PR to be effective, you need a high-quality product with solid product-market fit that people authentically love. Otherwise, you can send editors as many samples as you want, but if they don’t actually like the experience it’s not going to result in anything.

PR isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s definitely another effective tool to have in your marketing toolbox—especially if you want to stand out in the DTC space!

🔊 If you’re in search of a top-of-the-line Performance PR agency for your DTC biz, check out Lauren’s agency, Dreamday, or LaRue.

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