The e-commerce industry is a constantly growing business that has flourished during the pandemic. Big names in the industry such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Alibaba have grown even bigger as a significant portion of retail went online in recent years. In fact, in 2020, e-commerce’s share in all retail sales increased from 16% to 19%. And not only was it good for big businesses, but it also sustained consumers and independent entrepreneurs alike due to more e-commerce businesses having customer-to-customer (C2C) features, such as Craigslist, eBay, and Shopee.
E-commerce is an industry that continually gives hope to those trying to start their own businesses regardless of what their circumstances are. And it’s this story that further boosted the industry’s growth, and emphasized its importance in a COVID-19 world.
But who told this story? This is where public relations come into play.
PR gives consumers context and narratives behind e-commerce businesses, as well as shows how meaningful this tech and business development really is. Thanks to the media, consumers become aware of what’s happening within the e-commerce industry and eventually become more interested in online brands.
PR strategies are growing in business, with the PR market projected to grow by 10.2% in 2021. Along with that, over 59% of communications experts say they have a strategy for content, which includes media relations.
Even before the pandemic, e-commerce businesses tap journalists as part of their PR strategy. This effort persists even during the pandemic, when businesses are more competitive and hard-working than ever to stay afloat. Recent examples include Shopee Gamers’ Festival, an event aimed at customers who purchase gaming products on their app. In an article by the Manila Standard, they not only talk about the details of the event, but the intentions behind it. They promoted the gaming and entertainment industry during quarantine, and catered to the specific needs and wants of their audience.
Another example is a feature on a best selling product on Amazon. wherein the author described how this product catered to the heat wave in the US. These may seem very straightforward, but given the reach that the media has, it is a great way to market your e-commerce business, even when considering your competition.
People go to the media for news on pretty much everything, and tapping into trusted sources will not only get people to see your product, but also see how you’re the real deal. It’s quite simple: The more popular the media outlet you connect with, the more trust you build among your existing and potential customers.
To maximize your journey into media relations for your e-commerce business, you will have to take note of a few things:
- Don’t hard sell
Talk about your product and your company similar to how you would talk to a friend. Don't over advertise. When writing an article about your brand or coordinating with journalists, make sure that you have the right words, and don’t underestimate your audience: You don’t want people to just see your media pick-ups as straight up advertisements. Your potential clients may just roll their eyes and click out if you’re just going to lay down a script for a commercial. Emphasize the human side of your company and share how these new products and services will benefit your target market.
- Connect with your audience
In relation to emphasizing the humanity of your company, use this as an opportunity to directly communicate with your audience. Get direct quotes from the higher ups of your company, and show the public that these are the people who carefully thought through their offerings and marketing efforts. E-commerce has helped millions of people through tough times, so capitalize on that fact by simply talking to your people.
- Use virtual press conferences
Video conferencing has dominated the world of business for the past few years, but it has also companies opportunities to branch out from where they are based. There is great potential here, as media press conferences no longer need to be in physical spaces that will restrict the number of media representatives you can contact. Video conferencing is as direct as you can get in terms of communicating with journalists and your target audience as a whole, as you can answer questions and provide further details on the spot.
- Tie your PR into your social media marketing
Social media is a huge part of content marketing, and provides great potential for e-commerce businesses to further expand their reach, and relate to the public. As part of your PR strategy, make sure to share articles on your social media pages to not only legitimize your brand in the eyes of consumers, but also nurture your relationship with the journalists and media outlets you collaborated with. This will allow for more long-term partnerships that will make each and every further media relations effort much easier to execute than the last.
Having an effective PR strategy and improved media relations is excellent for an industry that has done so much for the world. This effort allows a healthy cycle of success for all people from top to bottom, as the stories of each and every development in this industry will only allow e-commerce to grow even bigger.
In turn, this will provide the public with more opportunities to start their own e-commerce business, and create more stories and more narratives that you can tell and apply to your product. It is important for the whole industry to invest further into PR for e-commerce, and with the competition heating up in this business, it’s important to start strategizing now, as the world moves in the new normal.
- Written by Jack Cordero