Power of PR helps startup Scout orders

Venture capital firm and start-up foundry Sandbox Industries funded early R&D and PR for Scout, a home security device start-up.

Organizations: Sandbox Industries and Scout (Chicago, IL)
Campaign: Breaking Into Home Security
Duration: February 13 - March 22, 2013
Budget: about $14,000

Venture capital firm and start-up foundry Sandbox Industries funded early R&D and PR for Scout, a home security device start-up. Scout needed PR support to generate $180,000 in pre-orders between its February 13 website launch and March 15 to get the company off the ground.

“Scout was counting almost 100% on PR to generate all the pre-orders it needed,” explains Kate Elisco, PR director at Sandbox. “I was half nervous and half really excited. It's uncommon to get the opportunity to illustrate a very direct link between PR success and revenue.” 

Media relations, a video, and social media outreach were used to spread the word about product benefits and drive traffic to scoutalarm.com.

“Scout made a really funny and engaging video that explains how the product works and shows how outdated home security has been,” Elisco says. “It was valuable in helping drive strategic media placement.”

Traditional media and bloggers covering tech, startups, entrepreneurs, home design, and home security were targeted.

The video was posted to Scout's YouTube channel on February 13 and sent to journalist and bloggers. 

Scout's CEO and co-founder Dan Roberts wrote two posts for the company's blog about how to successfully use a pre-order site to generate independent funding. This angle was also pitched to journalists and bloggers.

Scout launched a Facebook page in January. Regular posts encouraged product discussion. Posts announcing fundraising updates and highlighting media coverage also helped drive buzz. Three promoted posts ran in March. 

The Facebook audience member who drove the most traffic to scoutalarm.com between March 6 and 7 won a $100 American Express gift card and a Scout motion sensor. The giveaway was promoted on Facebook and via email to Scout's backers and its database of contacts.

By March 13 pre-orders had generated more than $190,000 in revenue. Nine hundred sixty-four pre-orders were in as of April 30, generating a total of $256,440 in revenue.

The video has 25,318 views to date. Thirty-one stories ran in outlets such as Mashable, Engadget, Thrillist, Apartment Therapy, Design Milk, and NBC News.

The Facebook page garnered 668 likes in five weeks. By late May, likes had climbed to 847.

“We're extremely pleased,” Roberts says. “We hit our goal relying pretty much exclusively on the power of PR.”

Upcoming PR plans will be nailed down as soon as product production and shipment dates are firm.

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