How To: Profit from Good Public Relations

Is all press good press? Not all of it leads to new business—but more can if you're strategic.
Jon Cyr, Founder and CEO

Business: Sir Lancelot’s Armor, maker of bulletproof glass screen protectors for smartphones and tablets

Strategy: Hire a PR agency to pitch to a variety of media outlets in a burst.

Results: Sir Lancelot’s experienced a 110 percent sales increase in a single month.

We sell most of our products online, and a while back everyone was telling us to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). I did, but wasn’t impressed with the results. It made sense to me that positive public relations equated to a natural way of building SEO. But SEO firms are not usually good at PR. So I took money out of the SEO budget and invested it with MRB Public Relations, a New Jersey PR firm. When we started out together, I made it clear I wanted measurable results. The PR firm helped us focus our attention on what would get press: the fact that our laminated tempered glass can stop bullets. OK, it won’t stop high-powered rifle bullets, but it will stop rounds from a BB gun. The firm focused on that buzzword and pitched a TV news story in which my phone was shot with a gun. We set up a whole nationwide media campaign, and the first hit happened to be a 6 p.m. segment on the NBC affiliate in Seattle, where we are based. Even though we sell nationally, there was a 15-fold spike in Seattle-area sales when the story hit. That got the ball rolling.

In the two weeks after the campaign rollout, more than 100 media outlets picked us up, including huge mainstream and tech brands such as Gizmodo, the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle. Month-over-month sales increased 110 percent, yielding a sizable return on our PR investment. We were able to leverage the original NBC shooting range segment to other markets, promising an exclusive story in each area. Because we have such a mainstream product, we have found great returns on many types of media. The big tech blogs are powerful because they are widely read, but smaller motherhood and fashion blogs, where readers are not as aware of the latest gadgets, have resulted in good sales, too, because we stand out.

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