How to Craft an Effective PR Strategy for Your eCommerce Business

March 1, 2024 | By Chris Norton (Guest Author)
Newspaper press

Great brand reputation and positive customer perception are everything in eCommerce.

In physical stores, customers still have the luxury of meeting salespeople who put on friendly smiles and reassuring shoulder taps before buying. They can also touch and inspect the product before buying.

However, this personal interaction with people and products is typically absent for online shoppers. In this case, what helps you sell to them is your online reputation. A staggering 95.6% of customers say a good online reputation increases their trust in the brand and will make them buy.

Thankfully, maintaining a positive image isn’t so complicated. You just have to pay attention to eCommerce PR. In today’s guide, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about PR for eCommerce and building a reliable strategy for your business.

Let’s start from the top.

What Is PR?

The primary aim of PR is to shape public perceptions about your business, enhance its reputation, and eventually drive more sales.

That’s why PR (public relations) involves maintaining positive and mutually beneficial relationships with individuals and organizations that matter to your business. These include your current and potential customers, media houses, and influencers. It also involves creating content like statements and press releases, or organizing events that put your business in a good light.

How Does PR Work?

As I mentioned earlier, eCommerce PR is all about building relationships. And this starts with your prospects and customers. You can begin this relationship right from your own channels, like blog posts, websites, and social media platforms.

Through these channels, you can share PR content such as positive stories, customer testimonials, thought leadership content, and newsworthy achievements. These forms of content engage your audience effectively, help you forge relationships with them, and eventually build trust.

But note that there’s very little your own channels can do. You still need relationships with big influencers and news outlets to blast your newsworthy stories or reviews to a wider audience. Besides reaching more people, they also add credibility to your brand. If Keith Lee, a food influencer, says your online restaurant is good, his followers are likely to believe him.

With that said, bear in mind that, unlike advertising, you often are not paying for media or influencer mentions. You have to “earn” them. How?

Sometimes, the newsworthy stories you post on your channels, on their own, attract major news outlets or influencers. For example, is known to always publish positive company stories on how it’s establishing itself as a major Amazon competitor despite all odds. With consistency, these stories gained the attention of major media outlets like the Washington Post below. This media attention gave the brand more credibility and exposure.

Jet article excerpt


Other times, you have to reach out to these media houses or influencers yourself so they can see your published stories, whether this be a press release, a statement, or something else. That’s why reaching out to them with your pitches should also be part of your PR strategy.

As these relationships solidify, you'll feel more comfortable sending them pitches of your brand content to cover.

Finally, events are also an incredible eCommerce PR tactic. These include trade shows, product launches, or even webinars. You can host or attend them to showcase your eCommerce brand as an expert. You should also pitch them to journalists and influencers for them to cover.

Just make sure everything is on point as you host your event. Otherwise, you’ll only get negative press. So, pay close attention to everything, from the event ticketing platform to the themes and reputation of the guests you invite. And branded business cards are essential at these events. Elevate your event's PR impact by creating a digital business card to connect with attendees for networking. Customize with two-way contact sharing and brand-related content links for easy sharing.

Building a Winning PR Strategy for Your eCommerce Business

Now that you know the importance of PR for eCommerce, here are five tips to follow for a stellar PR eCommerce strategy:

1. Define Your Goals and Objectives

How can you measure progress, evaluate success, or even choose the right PR tactics if you don’t know where you’re headed in the first place? That’s why defining the goals and objectives of your PR campaign is important before anything else.

Ideally, you want these goals to meet the SMART criteria:

SMART goals graphic


So instead of just saying your goal is to increase brand awareness, say you want to increase brand awareness by 20% within the next 6 months.

Your goals can help you determine your objectives or the PR actions you’d be taking to reach these goals subsequently.

To reach the goal above, for example, a good objective would be to venture into PR video production featuring loyal customers. The videos could showcase their own product experiences and highlight the benefits of your brand.

2. Know Your Audience

Remember what I said about the importance of building relationships with both your customers and media partners for successful PR? That means you are targeting these two audiences in your PR strategy.

Your customers are the end consumers of the PR content. So, you have to know who they are so well before you can create content that speaks to their emotions.

How can you achieve this? Conduct extensive surveys and research to understand your customers' demographics, pain points, buying behaviors, and preferences. You can also use social listening tools like Brand24 or BuzzSumo to see the discussions they’re having on social platforms. From there, you’d have a good idea of what floats their boats.

Use this information to create a comprehensive persona like the one below. This helps inform your subsequent PR and marketing strategies.

Customer profile example


For instance, as an eCommerce clothing store, you could discover that most of your customers are environmentally conscious. That means you would want your content or your PR event to revolve around sustainable fashion.

That aside, you also need the right influencers and journalists to get your PR content or event to a larger audience and even increase your credibility. I'll show you two smart ways to know who these are.

First, go to Google and search for a keyword related to your brand, then click on the “News” button. Here, you'll find where your competitors are mostly getting their PR news coverage from. See an example for “casual face caps.”

When you click on the news content, you'll typically find the name of the author on the page, and probably links to their social media accounts.

You can do a quick Google search of the author to determine what other news story types and other pieces they write, their writing style preferences, the events they attend and cover, among others.

Get a Free 14-Day Trial with Mobile Text Alerts

set password visible
Author name example


Make sure you create a list of as many journalists as possible. That’s because some journalists tend to be partial to the first brand they work within a particular niche. But with so many options, you’d most likely find one that’s receptive to additional sources.

Another way to find journalists is to use PR tools like Anewstip or Cison, which typically have additional details about these individuals, too. You can also use these tools to find influencers relevant to your niche.

3. Craft Compelling Stories

More than 50% of customers say they naturally gravitate towards a brand when they understand and love the story behind it. So, creating compelling stories is an excellent way to leave lasting positive impressions on your target audience.

To create compelling stories, define your brand narrative first. Every brand has a core personality that defines its values. What’s that story that’s unique to your brand? What impact do you strive to make? Or do you have a unique legacy? These options can help you create a solid narrative for your brand.

For Hiut Denim, for example, it’s rags-to-riches stories like the one below:

Claudio personal example


Always remember that real people connect with real stories. So, like in the example above, you can feature your current customers, team members, or even everyday people to tell your story. It doesn’t have to be rag-to-riches stories. It could be how your product improves their lives or helps them solve an issue.

After coming up with a story for your brand, disseminate it across various channels, including your press releases, blogs, videos, etc., but make sure you’re paying attention to the format while doing that. For example, if you’ll be including your brand story in a press release, it needs a more concise, factual approach.

4. Build Relationships with Media and Influencers.

One sad PR reality is that journalists only respond to roughly 3% of the pitches they get. I can’t blame them, though. Most PR pitches today are very intrusive and lack enough effort from the sender.

So, after finding the right journalists and influencers for your eCommerce brand, don’t reach out to them immediately. Take some time to build a relationship with them.

For journalists, this could mean providing them with value by sharing newsworthy angles and groundbreaking exclusives. You can even share contacts with people they might consider interviewing later on. Essentially, you want to make their jobs easier. And naturally, they start trusting you as a source for their stories.

As for influencers, you might want to take time to engage with them on social media. Join their online communities to provide valuable insights, share their posts, and be active in their comments. As time passes, they start noticing you. So, it wouldn’t look out of place when you eventually reach out to them for influencer partnerships.

And when you want to reach out to these individuals to pitch your PR content or event, it’s better to do that via text message, if you already have their phone numbers (which you likely will have once they see you as a valued source of information and you have built a good relationship with them). You don’t have to create a separate text message for each journalist or influencer you want to pitch the same PR content or event to for coverage. You can use a tool like Mobile Text Alerts to send the same text en masse. This way, you can save time. You can also be sure that they actually saw your message directly on their personal devices. So, you’ll be able to catch them sooner than an email might.

5. Monitor and Measure Results

When you keep track of your results regularly, you'll quickly discover whether your PR strategy is achieving the desired results. If not, you can then return to the drawing board before things go south.

To monitor results, you first need to define your metrics. You can derive these from your goals. For example, if your goal was to increase social media engagement, you’d typically have a metric like social media engagement rate.

Other important metrics you can’t ignore are:

  • Share of voice: How popular your brand is compared to your competitors
  • Organic mentions: Mentions that aren’t part of a response to a comment. Tagging a brand without prompting is also considered an organic mention
  • Sentiment scores: How positive or negative customers’ language is when it comes to your brand
  • Attendance rate: The total number of attendees divided by the total number of registrants. This metric applies if you organize a PR event.
  • Web traffic: Volume of users who visit a site in a given time. If your PR efforts are successful, you should see an increase in the number of people going to your site

To measure the results of your PR efforts, you’ll need the right tools. A Google Analytics 4 setup is a good starting point since it covers some of the metrics you need like web traffic:

Google Analytics example


You may then proceed to combine it with social listening tools and surveys to gain a more complete picture of your PR campaign performance.

In Closing

Every eCommerce business needs a PR strategy. Aside from the massive reputation boost it gives your business, it provides you with better brand recognition and helps you generate more sales as a result.

To make your eCommerce PR strategy click, I covered some exciting tips you can implement for your winning PR strategy. Start by defining your SMART PR goals and objectives. Then, conduct research to understand your customers better and create a buyer persona. Also, take your time to create compelling stories for your brand.

In addition, bear in mind that relationship-building with the media and influencers is necessary in eCommerce PR. And finally, don’t get lost in the campaign; always check your results to see where you currently stand and make adjustments if necessary.

Follow these tips, and you can expect an effective PR strategy for your eCommerce business.

Good luck!

By Chris Norton, host of the UK’s 7th largest marketing podcast, Socially Unacceptable, and Founder of award-winning B2C specialist PR agency Prohibition. His social media training blog is listed in the UK's top 10 PR blogs. For tons of digital PR tips, you can follow Chris here @chris_norton.

Chris Norton picture

Get a Free 14-Day Trial Account

Start sending mass text messages to your entire list today!