On Sunday, December 27th, I sat in my office stressed out. A big campaign we had launched in November had not taken off like we hoped it would. The idea had received some coverage on , Huffington Post, and the but we really needed much more if we wanted to make the idea happen.
This happens a lot when you launch a media campaign. The initial idea doesn’t take off on the first shot and from there you need to hustle and make magic happen. Without the magic, it will flop.
The only difference this time was that the idea had cost our client $1 million dollars and our ass (and reputation) was on the line like never before. Our client was a successful entrepreneur who has big political plans in California. The only issue: no one knew him. So we decided the best way to make him known would be to do something that would totally shake up the California political landscape and put him in the spotlight. And it wasn’t just an idea: it was a proposed law that we wanted our client try to get passed.
We took the idea from a popular internet political joke: Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians wore the logos of their sponsors like Nascar drivers so we know who owns them? It was funny meme and was generally well-received. We pitched it to our client and advised that he try to make it a law through the California ballot initiative process. He agreed and gave us a budget of $1 million to make it happen.
(For the launch, we printed out 120 full-size cutouts of everyone in the California Legislature and reserved the steps of the Sacremento State Capitol building)
Despite the initial coverage when the idea was announced, it just had not taken off like we had hoped.
On that Sunday night as I sat there stressed out, I began testing new ideas. After a quick brainstorm, I set my sights on Reddit. I follow various threads on Reddit on a daily basis and understand the power it has to make something go viral. I just didn’t know how to do it.
I knew that if I could get one of my links to the top of Reddit Politics, I would have a pretty good chance of making the idea spread, so I set that as my goal: Get to the top of Reddit Politics within 24 hours.
What I did next was simple and cheap. From my own personal reddit account (Probably should have used a fake account or someone else’s), I posted a link to our Washington Times story on Reddit Politics.
Then I went to Fiverr.com and bought every UpVote package that was offered. Total cost: $35. Two hours later I came back to check the results. We were number one with over 500 comments already.
We had media lists built of every journalist and writer in politics and began blasting them with “anonymous” tips from fake email addresses.
Here are some of the “tips” we sent out.
We sent these types of emails out to over 20,000 media contacts from 6 different email accounts.
The media requests began to pour in like we’ve never seen before. We had so many requests coming in it was challenging to respond to them all. That is a great, great problem to have.
, , even wrote about the idea, and every time we got a new media hit, we followed the same process on Reddit. Post the link to various Reddit threads and then go on Fiverr and buy UpVotes to make sure we got to the top. In just the first few days, we had over 50 media outlets covering our story.
As the idea continued to spread like wildfire, our website began to crash. In 3 days alone, we had received over 2 million hits to the website, but most importantly, we had had over 4,000 volunteers sign up.
Keeping it Going
To keep our momentum going, we sent out this urgent request to those volunteers, pleading for their support to spread our idea. We turned our 4,000 supporters into a media pitching machine.
Here’s the email we sent out:
Another wave of media requests came in from this push and we just kept up with the same process: Post on Reddit, buy UpVotes, repeat.
In less than a few days we had generated over 5,000,000 media impressions and received over 6 million website hits. Total cost? $255 from Fiverr.com.
This gave the campaign the boost we needed and it was all the direct result of one thing: hustle . This was not a clear cut path and there was no how-to guide. It was really just making it up as we went.
While this might not work with every idea, I wanted to pass on a framework that others can use to execute similar strategies. Regardless of industry, Reddit can be a very powerful tool for businesses because every industry has their own Sub-Reddit, and sometimes several. This is where journalists often go to see what people are talking about. If you can get seen on Reddit, it can position you to get media requests instead of emailing journalists and asking them to cover you.
With 32 clients, these are the types of things we do several times a day now and we’re going to begin publishing articles like this to outline what we are doing that’s working so others can do the same. Hope you enjoy!