I looked at the byline of the reporter; was I reading this amazing story in Fast Company? Close, but not. Tom Foster “has been an editor at Men’s Journal and Fast Company. This is his first story for Inc.”
My two all-time favorite ‘zines for business news, company innovation, entrepreneur success, and so much more. This story, “The GoPro Army—How a scrappy little camera company turned its customers into a stoked sales force and became a $250 million industry leader.”
Crumbs. You can’t beat that headline; it tells the story right there (and it took the whole page with 16 images from GoPro cameras to illustrate the first spread of the article). In true Fast Company form, the first two pages are in its style, while the last four are Inc.-esque.
What’s needed to get this kind of coverage money can’t buy?
Before I go into the elements for a national story pitch, I want to reference my message mapping articles again, and for good reason. I started writing this with the angle of “backing into a message map” because I had no idea this company existed (I’m not an extreme sports fanatic, nor would I ever consider the daredevil stunts GoPro does). As I was reading the first two pages with every line circled in three out of four columns (as blog fodder), I saw what the reporter told me come to life, “GoPro is a company that’s deeply invested in storytelling (primarily in the form of extreme sports videos.”)
As the reporter told his story beginning with hair-raising visuals as a passenger skedaddling through the Santa Cruz mountains in a Ford GT40 replica Le Mans racing car with GoPro CEO at the wheel, I was hooked. Not only was GoPro being acknowledged for its storytelling finesse, a master storyteller in Editor Tom Foster was recanting his personal adventure, too.
Just read the article, OK? You’ll get what I’m saying spot on.
Story Elements for National Media
So, let me try to share the elements you need for your company or client to be considered by national media.
The basics in this story are covered well.
Zany and photogenic CEO under 40-years-old
Proven profits and exponential company growth
Successful product with adoring consumers
Market monopoly (90% market share)
Industry everyone and anyone will drop jaws about.
The added bonus to making the pitch all the sweeter:
Product Line. It’s a suite of “wearable, mountable and affordable HD video cameras that make all kinds of previously impossible shots much easier to capture. …they pack a surprising amount of power and versatility, especially for their $300 price tag.”
YouTube Views. The writer references three YouTube videos shot with GoPro cameras each with 12.4 million views, 2.8 million views and 2.1 million views. These postings are part of the arsenal of video posted to YouTube every two-to-three minutes (either by customers or the company’s 20-person in-house media team).
Industry Analysts. While it’s not always up to you to include industry analysts in your pitch to national media, it is an added bonus. “IDC estimates GoPro’s revenue at $250 million, on sales of 800,000 cameras world-wide. He (industry analyst) calls GoPro “the fastest growing camera company in the world.” (Redirect to sentence above – “coverage money can’t buy.”)
Customers/Users. GoPro has a Facebook fan base we can all drool over. “In 2011 alone, Facebook fans grew from 50,000 to more than 1.3 million.” (Gasp, who manages that community?)
Customer Engagement. Using the BARE (brand audience rate of engagement) score to track activity on Facebook, the CEO mildly states, “I think we have the most socially engaged online audience of any consumer brand in the world.” Indeed.
Social Brand. Read those words again. What do they actually mean? When you have a tiny video camera (any large corporation could’ve made, right?) you can wear, a global army of camera users is created every single day. Their videos of bungee jumps, an Alpine downhill, a coral reef exploration, or a kid’s race track excursion are all posted to YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+ and every limitless social media channel imaginable. Globally. This exponential, ubiquitous growth is unimaginable, but here it is right in front of us being presented by an upstart. (Is this CEO the future Steve Jobs?)
I’m blown away. No way in my lifetime will I ever get the chance to pitch a company story like this, and I’ve been pitching media too many years to count. I’ve had success with national media, for sure, and I know what it takes to see it through (sweat and tears). I also realize the challenges media relations professionals face to tell a story like this.
Here are my summary tips:
Get your message map(s) in order and tell your story. Put them into a format that lends itself to storytelling and not just word reading. Words on a page must come to life with passion.
Not involved in social media yet, Company X? OHMYGOSH! If this story is not your kick in the pants, nothing is…Get on it. I cannot tell you how serious I am; look at the fan engagement and the social branding (that alone rocks) behind GoPro success.
This story is a perfect example of what national media want to see in a perfect national story – social media engagement on a variety of channels along with this BARE metric. (Don’t worry, I bet only the top 10% of companies are likely to have that metric clocked with any margin of influence.)
Engage with industry analysts. This is an aspect of public relations often ignored. It’s called industry analyst relations…simple. It’s different than investor relations and important for privately held companies that hold market share in their respective verticals.
This story is both an inspiration and a freak (no accident). As a public relations professional, work hard to touch upon these elements and show proof points in as many as you can. I’d hasten a guess this company is a media darling and one in a million, but it’s sure exciting to wonder what it’s like to be in the media relations and social media hot seats for GoPro.
(Image courtesy of GoPro Facebook page.)