Crowdfunding as a PR Tool

Posted: Thu, 13 December 2012 by Michelle

So, you’ve probably heard a bit about crowdfunding, how it’s disrupting traditional financial models and revolutionising the funding landscape?

Well that’s not all. We can let you into a secret – it’s about a lot more than just the money.

You see there are a number of hitherto hidden benefits, known only to the crowdfunders themselves, those who have enjoyed the added extras that come with running a crowdfunding campaign.

Top of the list?  Yup, you guessed it. It is PR.

To run a successful crowdfunding campaign you need a mini communications plan; it’s all about reaching out to the widest possible audience, including the media – online and offline, broadcast and print – and using social networking channels to share and connect. Essentially, doing all the PR activities you do for your clients on a daily basis.

I’m going to share an example with you. There’s an amazing jewellery designer, award winning and loved by pop stars and celebs alike. She’s manufacturing in Scotland and making both regional (STV Local) and national (BBC Breakfast) headlines.

But it wasn’t always like that for Mhairi Mackenzie, who originally outsourced her manufacturing to a supplier in England and made her contemporary and often whacky pieces in the spare time she had when she wasn’t doing the day job that paid the bills.

Mhairi’s custom pieces of jewellery, designed using Scots slang words, were seen on X Factor contestants and MTV presenters. But she was ambitious, and decided that for Bonnie Bling to grow she had to take control of her own manufacturing and to do that she needed to buy her own laser cutting machine. But that would cost £7.5k she didn’t have and that the banks wouldn’t lend her.


The solution? Crowdfunding. Mhairi ran a 60 day crowdfunding campaign; she worked tirelessly, reaching out to her own network of fans, potential fans online, the famous people who wore her jewellery, the media and the crowdfunding community.

The result? £8k in the bag and a raft of media coverage like she’d never experienced before. The media coverage brought her more customers, more celebs wearing her pieces and a private investor who loved her work.

The opportunity? Is there for startups, existing businesses, charities, social enterprises, community groups, and individuals who have a dream they’d like to make a reality.

But it's also there for savvy PR experts who can tap into the phenomenon that is crowdfunding and use it to boost coverage – and the greater value that comes from that coverage – for their clients.

It’s hard to get quality coverage for businesses, especially when those businesses are struggling to join the social networking dots and make the most of the online experience to reach out to customers, both existing and potential, and the news-hungry media looking for a new and different angle.

Crowdfunding is another piece of ammunition to bolster your arsenal of communications weaponry.  Check it out!


This post originally appeared as a guest blog on the CIPR blog