Outdoor-focused cottage brands – aka small brands that design and manufacture their own gear for enjoying adventures and exploring the great outdoors – often have a greater need for outdoor industry PR than the larger players in the field. When you think of these cottage brands a number of words come to mind, specifically: specialized, custom, innovative, nimble, and yes, small. Although these brands often employ a handful of people, you typically won’t find the numbers you see with larger brands in the industry, and you almost certainly won’t find a full-fledged marketing department.
In fact, you’re more likely to see a few employees handling everything themselves, from design, sourcing, and manufacturing to operations, fulfillment, and customer service at a cottage brand. Because of this, public relations and digital marketing tend to rank pretty low on their priority list, but they shouldn’t, because outdoor industry PR isn’t just for big brands with big budgets. Thoughtful PR can be an affordable way to elevate a cottage manufacturer from obscurity without sacrificing the soul of the brand by strategically sharing their message with an audience primed to hear it.
Still not sold? We’ve outlined 3 key reasons showing how outdoor industry PR can benefit a cottage brand.
Cottage brands are really, really good at making outdoor gear. They’re often founded by people who frequently use outdoor gear, so they are extremely discerning about what goes into their own designs. However, crafting a killer product and crafting effective brand messaging are two different beasts, and this is an area where a PR team can come in and make a big difference.
As PR practitioners, we are pros at taking an amazing brand story or product and turning it into cohesive, compelling copy that makes people take notice. We want people to want to know more about your brand, and we know how to use the written word to reel in both media and potential customers, whether it’s web copy, email marketing, social media posts, or pitches and press releases.
We’re also pros at showcasing a brand’s expertise via blog writing. For example, a blog we drafted for client Appalachian Gear Company comparing natural fiber performance characteristics landed in the top 10% of web traffic for all Shopify-based blogs over a two-week period and remains one of the brand’s highest-performing blogs more than a year later. Something that simple can make a big difference for a cottage brand looking to get noticed.
Good PR pros are relationship experts, and the Darby team is extremely proud of the relationships we’ve built and nurtured during our 12 years as an outdoor industry PR agency. We work hard to ensure our clients and media contacts feel like partners (and, oftentimes, friends) and we take the time to get to know them so that we can anticipate opportunities and always be top of mind for upcoming stories.
Our media partners know that we won’t waste their time, that we value their feedback, and that we will always do our best to deliver relevant and beneficial information. These efforts are time-consuming and often not within a cottage brand’s bandwidth, but the right PR partner can earn a small brand a big piece of coverage thanks to years spent fostering critical connections.
For example, when a long-time media partner put out the call for a backyard camping feature on the Today Show, we were on his email list and able to quickly send over product recommendations. Because of that relationship, we were able to land major national television coverage for a couple of clients, including cottage brand Tarpestry, resulting in an increase in e-commerce sales. Additionally, a PR agency can be crucial for managing relationships with influencers, ambassadors, and even like-minded brands and organizations.
3. Tools & Trends
Staying on top of the latest PR tools and trends is a time commitment itself and an added expense that many cottage brands can’t afford. By bringing on a PR agency, you get access to a team that makes monitoring trends a top priority – in addition to a robust paid media database and media monitoring capabilities.
Our specialty is finding and connecting with people who are talking about topics relevant to your brand, and once we earn media coverage, we know how to amplify that exposure via smart digital strategy. As the media landscape changes, it’s critical to focus on an omnichannel approach that combines PR and digital marketing, and an agency partner will already have a mastery of the tools necessary to maximize your brand’s investment.
At the end of the day, outdoor industry PR is an investment and one that not every brand can afford. Even though PR can be (and often is) done effectively in-house, connecting with the right PR partner can make a big difference for small cottage manufacturers and help them to emerge from underdog status to reach new heights and new audiences. Working with an agency means a cottage brand can free up time to focus on what they do best…creating innovative new gear. To learn more about our PR and digital marketing services for cottage brands, visit our services page.