I get it. You have dreams of going big.

Well, if you make a physical consumer product, that means you need to get into retail. The trouble is, getting into retail is hard. Retailers are specific beasts and the retail sales environment is very different from where most companies begin their journey these days.

Smart startups and scaleups understand that making a physical product and running a successful crowdfunding campaign or driving DTC sales are only the beginning. Getting into retail and succeeding once you are there means building a brand.

The key channel for building a brand is PR. And thus PR is an essential complement to your getting-into-retail dreams.

Why? Primarily because the main output of most PR programs – earned editorial media coverage – is super trusted by sentient humans. Each year Nielsen (yes, the same folks who’ve done the TV ratings since your grandma bought her first TV) runs a trust in advertising survey. As the name suggests, they look at what forms of media are most trusted. Earned media has ranked just below recommendations from friends for decades per the survey. It always ranks above banner ads, outdoor and other forms of paid media.

So what does that mean in terms of your retail plans?

PR helps you get into retail for two main reasons. One, on the most basic level, that you are doing it, spending on it and thinking about it will be a key checklist point for most retail buyers. Buyers aren’t especially interested in putting companies that don’t spend on marketing on their shelves.

Two, showing a buyer the results of your PR efforts will help you build cred with them. For example, if TechCrunch says your new keyboard is the greatest thing since sliced bread that carries weight. A lot more than if you said it yourself. Hopefully, your efforts to get into retail will include hiring a marketing consultant and / or sales agent. Giving these people good earned media to go out and pitch you with is akin to giving them a dose of rocket fuel.

Beyond helping you get on to shelves, once you get into retail you are in the domain of the unassisted sale. While most retailers have staff on the floor, the levels may not be sufficient for staff to attend to every prospect who walks through the doors. The more buyers can enter a store with preconceived ideas about what they want based on trusted external inputs like earned media, the more likely the sale. PR’s outputs help you create demand.

The moment you start thinking retail, you need to start thinking PR. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

This guest blog post was provided by Jackson Wightman from Proper Propaganda, a PR firm that helps innovative companies scale and build their brands using earned media. Jackson recently published the Tech PR Playbook from which this blog post is adapted from. If you are looking for a PR agency to help build your build, contact Jackson today.