How Investing in Crowdfunding PR Paid Off Big Time For One London Start-Up
Escape the City is a successful recruitment company with a difference. Rather than promoting well-paid jobs in traditional business powerhouses, they actively encourage people to quit their jobs, get out of the rat-race and find more meaningful employment – even if it means taking a pay-cut.
Logging on in early June 2015 I could have applied to become a marketing guru for a Morroccan Surf Camp, an organiser of Social Enterprise schemes in India, or a manager for Cancer Research – to name but a few. They also offer education and support in how to make the transition from the straight-and-narrow to the deep-and-meaningful.
Just as we would advise any company looking for crowdfunding PR, Escape the City has made the most of the ‘double boost’ benefit of the media. The publicity that the media has brought them has helped their business to grow, but they have also used their media mentions as a way of adding credibility to their business when attracting new customers (and as you’ll see – a large amount of crowdfunding). A prominent section of their homepage features their impressive media coverage, which gives their business a sense of immediate prestige, especially to new visitors.
Why was the Media interested in Escape the City?
Reading Escape The City’s press coverage it’s pretty clear they benefited from being media-friendly examples of a few bigger media stories and trends. It’s so much easier to get media mentions when this is the case. If your average start-up company goes to The New York Times and asks for coverage just because they’re launching it’s extremely unlikely that the paper will take any notice of them.
But Escape the City was different for two reasons. Firstly their company was funded by crowdfunding (back when crowd-funding was relatively unknown and the media were curious about it). Secondly they launched shortly after the financial crisis of 2008/9 when confidence in the city couldn’t have been lower, and lots of people were looking for a way out.
So Escape the City wasn’t just the oft-pitched story of three young guys trying to make some money, it was a great example of not one, but two growing trends that the media wanted to write about.
Luckily for them, these are media trends that lasted for a long time. The reputation of big financial organizations is still in tatters, whilst crowd-funding continues to delight the media with a stream of quirky inventors and entrepreneurs bringing their ideas into the public domain. As Escape the city raised £600,000 against the odds on the then fledgling crowdcube funding site, they have from the get-go positioned themselves as media-friendly experts on crowdfunding. They’ve always been available for a quote whenever another crowdfunding story pops up, and have generated a great deal of publicity for their site off the back of that.
2) They’re Unusual
The media love the unusual. A regular start-up recruitment company might struggle to get a single mention in the media. But a recruitment company that advised people to tear-up their life plans and go in a radically different direction, based on their heart rather than their head, was something truly different.
3) Human Interest
The media love human interest stories. It helps them to give a meaningful narrative to stories that would otherwise be collections of facts and figures. Escape the City are one big human interest story. Their whole business is built on a powerful emotion of desire to make the most of one’s life – something that worries a great deal of us in the 21st century. As a result not only the owners (who have written a ‘manifesto’ about leading a less corporate life), but also every single one of their clients is an expression of that emotion and generates story after story driven by human interest. It’s not difficult to imagine a commuter on a crowded train on a cold monday morning being drawn to an article about someone who worked in the same city who has just quit their job to become a researcher on a tropical island. Every time they help change someone’s life Escape the City aquire a powerful human interest story they can pitch to the media.
4) They did their own PR and are always open to the media
Using the same principles we teach on this site Escape the City started generating publicity for themselves from the very early days of their business. Fortunately they were able to acquire the type of list of journalists we show people how to build, but they proactively pitched their story in the right way, with great success. It helps that the founders of the company are eloquent and always see media inquiries as helpful, rather than an annoyance. The more helpful you can be to journalists, the more helpful they will be to you – and Escape the City (for example commissioning polls to say that that 60% of young city workers were disillusioned) are a great example of that.
Escape The City’s strength was tapping into a trend and presenting it in a media friendly way. Their proactive stance with the media combined with their topical theme, packed with unusual human interest stories made their company a journalist’s dream, enabling them to get tons of crowdfunding PR. Although not every company or cause is as quirky, it’s worth thinking about how you can draw out topicality and human interest to make the media work for you.
If you’re interested in getting a free 4 part video series training that shows you how to get the media’s attention in the same way Escape The City did and make investors much more likely to take notice of, and ultimately invest in you click here.