We’d Like to Discuss PR Now, But We Don’t Want to…Press
The final installment of 'How to Launch a DTC brand'
A newsletter about branding, startups, and mission-driven companies aiming to make the world a better place.
👋 Welcome to For The Love, so happy to have you all here!
Today we’ll be discussing:
Part three of a series on how to (successfully) launch a DTC brand
A roundup of new launches from the past few weeks, including a waste-free answer to single-use sheet masks
You’re right BuyBuyBaby, I did not expect this
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⚡ For The Love of Startups
“PR is hard is a hard one, because entrepreneurs often go ‘should I spend the money?’ It's expensive,” Scott Friedmann, the co-founder of Acid League, a line of vinegar (and now non-alcoholic wines, sauces, and more), told me.
And it is — hiring a PR agency can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a month, but the Acid League took a bet the expense would pay off.
“We all felt really confident in the design ethos of the brand, the mission of the brand, the products, the taste, flavor, function. And ultimately, we decided that the insurance policy was PR, and in this case, it worked.”
Strategic placements, including a nod from Bon Appetite, exponentially increased the news of their launch, and, in turn, those early sales.
One of the most difficult hurdles in converting early customers (that aren’t your Mom or high school bestie) is getting them to trust you.
While polished branding, thoughtful copywriting, and engaging visuals will go a long way, a stamp of approval from a trusted source is invaluable. This can be a friend, an influencer, an established retailer, and, of course, a media publication.
As DTC candle brand Otherland’s founder Abigail Cook Stone, explained “the day you launch, your website goes live, the brand drops down from the sky and is now here, and you have to create trust with all these people who know nothing about you and your company. And there are a few ways to do that, but you need traffic. And that's harder to get than I thought at the beginning. And so working with a PR firm was great.”
For Otherland, that stamp of approval came from Fast Company.
“That initial Fast Company article — we got so much traffic on our launch day and subsequently and, other than our friends and family, that was the main source of traffic. Also, when you get that first piece of press, you can start with ads, using press clippings. Those perform really, really well. And I think, especially at the beginning, where you're trying to create legitimacy and trust, having third parties talk about you is really important.”
Stone did note she knows founders that have had success with similar launch stories from cold emails so even if you aren’t hiring PR this strategy is useful — you just have to be more resourceful *and* strategic.
Being strategic is something Jennifer Bett Meyer, founder of Jennifer Bett Communications, believes is paramount. And she would know — chances are if you’re up to date on buzzy consumer brands JBC handles their PR (think Recess, Studs, Parachute).
“It's not about sending a pitch to 100 people, it's about isolating a few people that you know a pitch will resonate with, and developing specific exclusive pitches for those editors. They do not want to get a pitch that 500 other editors are getting — they want to know why this story is right for their specific readers.”
You also want to make sure you diversify who you’re reaching out to — think holistically about your goals, who you want to reach, and make sure you’re covering your bases.
“It's a healthy mix between branding stories and then conversion stories. So how do we make sure that a fashion brand is in outlets like Vogue and W, which may not convert like crazy for them, but it's unbelievably important from a brand perspective. But at the same time, we want to make sure they're on WhoWhatWear and things like that, that do convert unbelievably well for our brands.”
“We're also really big on consumer versus business. So I don't think a brand is successful if it only has business launch press and I don't think a brand is successful if it only has consumer launch press. If you're going to have a great Fast Company launch story, make sure that you also have something in Popsugar or something like that. Because your consumers may not be reading Fast Company, they may not be reading Inc., or Entrepreneur, it's unbelievably important from an investment standpoint, and that's what the investors are reading.”
While you’re mapping out your initial outreach, Jennifer stresses you also need to keep an eye on the future. What happens after the launch buzz dies down?
“Launches are the kind of the easy part, right? So for a PR agency to have something new and exciting to talk about – this amazing new founder who is doing something really disruptive or revolutionary, you know, you have to write about it, because it's never been done before…That's all exciting and fun. The challenge, I think from a PR agency perspective is how do you keep that drumbeat going for a month after two months after three months after? So, part of our launch strategy is weaving in those narratives as well.”
One way to keep editors’ (and customers’) attention?
Launch again. And again. And again.
At least it’s worked for Acid League.
Scott explained, “If you look at our PR cycle, we had the launch of vinegars, then we had the launch of vinaigrettes, then we had the launch of proxies [non-alcoholic wine]… And so these launches, some people would say, ‘Whoa, there's almost so many launches that you're not even getting enough PR on one thing before you move on to the next,’ but the PR cycle kind of continues. And so for us, I think it's, it's paid off. And I think it sends a message to the community — the culinary community, the influencer community, the chef community, you name it, about how serious we are about making and playing with products and experimentation.”
If at first you don’t succeed, launch, launch again.
🔥 For The Love of Newness
The eco-friendly answer to single-use sheet masks, Experiment launched with Avant Guard, a reusable sheet mask. (Added bonus: the opportunity for lime green alien-like selfies.)
And if you can’t kick your single-use habit, Biom makes biodegradable wipes for cleaning and sanitizing your home.
Joggy is Outdoor Voice’s founder Ty Haney’s new venture. “Clean, steady energy formulated to support daily activity, recovery + individual performance.” Translation: It’s CBD. Launched alongside TYB — web3’s answer to loyalty programs (more on that in the next issue of For The Love).
Seth Rogan’s cannabis brand, Houseplant got a Lego-inspired rebrand.
In other rebrand news, Leny Kravitz’s toothpaste brand (??!!) also get a refresh.
For all the hypebeast kiddos Supreme Macaroni & Cheese is here with noodles that spell out, what else, S-U-P-R-E-M-E.
MSCHF and Tiffany & Co. collaborated on a participation trophy — you can participate for the low low price of $1000.
🔍 For The Love of the Details
Parenting is hard — so hard that it’s not surprising that apparently, BuyBuyBaby thinks consumers might give a lot of consideration to diving into a glowing tub of water and slamming the lid down on top of them.
Or perhaps this is targeted to a zen infant?
”Hungry? Tired? No, mom. I’m just overdue for a float.”
Welcome to Parenthood™
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Written by Aja Singer, a brand and creative strategy consultant interested in all things startup, mission-driven, and community. Born in Canada. Based in Brooklyn. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.