When starting a (vegan) business, many people don’t have a fundamental understanding of marketing and PR. Therefore, many of them make mistakes that not only cost them work force and time, but also a large number of readers, which they could have found with a proper PR message. This is just one of the problems Katrina Fox, book author and vegan business consultant, sees on a regular basis. We asked her to tell us more about the secrets of a good PR campaign, the development of veganism and her future plans.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Originally from the UK and now based in Sydney, Australia, my professional background is journalism. I’ve written extensively for niche and mainstream media for 18 years on animal advocacy, social justice and ethical business. I’m currently a regular Forbes contributor specialising in writing about vegan and plant-based businesses.
In 2015 I wrote Vegan Ventures: Start and Grow an Ethical Business, the first global book providing success strategies for aspiring and existing vegan business owners and founded Vegan Business Media, a content, events and training platform for vegan entrepreneurs. I also host the Vegan Business Talk podcast in which I interview vegan business owners and experts.
As well as speaking at local and international events on vegan lifestyle and business, I also teach vegan business owners how to do their own PR and get free media coverage through my signature online course and group coaching program Vegans in the Limelight.
Oh, and I’m a big fan of glitter, bling and disco! 😊
You have an online PR course for vegan business owners & entrepreneurs. What is the difference between conventional PR and ‘vegan PR’?
There isn’t a difference – the vegan side of it is that this is my niche. I choose to specialise in helping vegan brands get media coverage. This includes in mainstream media, as well as new media such as podcasts and online magazines.
What I’ve found as a journalist over nearly two decades is that many people don’t know how to pitch a story properly to the media. I get awful pitches sent to me regularly and it breaks my heart when they come from vegan business owners.
The key thing to keep in mind that journalists are not there to give you publicity – even if they’re vegan journalists! So don’t ask for this. Instead, read, watch and listen to the media outlet you want to be featured in, come up with a relevant, suitable, strong angle and pitch that.
Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day and if yours doesn’t catch their attention quickly, it’ll be deleted. So I created Vegans in the Limelight, my online PR course and group coaching program to help vegan business owners learn how to do their own PR effectively. Students get 12 months of support where they can submit their pitches and media releases to the learning platform and get feedback from me before sending them to journalists. They also get 12 monthly live group calls with me.
I also do one-on-one consultations and occasional done-for-you PR services for Australian vegan brands or international brands seeking PR in Australia.
Do you have some marketing hacks for conventional companies that also want to offer vegan products?
Take the time to get your products certified by a vegan organisation. You can put the logo in small letters on the back of your product and also on your website. Make sure that customers know which of your products are vegan-friendly – don’t make it hard for them. Make sure you know what ‘vegan’ means and don’t claim that something is ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ when it’s not. Honey, for example, is not vegan.
Hire a consultant or chef who specialises in vegan or plant-based products to make sure you create high-quality vegan options. Tesco supermarket in the UK is a good example of a company that did this, by hiring Derek and Chad Sarno to create its Wicked Kitchen range of plant-based ready meals.
There are hundreds of start-ups coming up monthly. What are your suggestions for an effective campaign for quickly being recognized in this flooded market?
Have a unique selling point (USP) and make sure it really is something that’s different and sets you apart. If you’re the first, even if it’s the first locally in your area, use that, particularly in local media.
Focus on both digital marketing as well as traditional PR, so you’re seen ‘everywhere’ quickly. Join and participate in relevant Facebook groups, create regular, engaging content and build relationships with key influencers.
You have done a lot of interviews with vegan entrepreneurs. How is the topic of veganism developing, both nationally and internationally?
Veganism is having a moment. Since around 2014 it’s become a hot topic and I’m seeing no slowing down of this – quite the opposite. Media are hungry for stories or articles with a vegan angle, sales of plant-based food products are skyrocketing and interest has never been so high. Even developing countries like Africa and India are recognising the benefits and entrepreneurs are providing solutions.
Of course we’re also starting to see a backlash from the animal agriculture industry that aims to discredit veganism. So it’s important for vegan brands to keep putting themselves out there to counter this.
What are, in your opinion, the most trending topics within the vegan industry?
Plant-based food and drink mostly, as eating plays such an important role in our lives. So plant-based milks are trending, since we’re now seeing so many options and innovations in this area. And of course plant-based meat alternatives that resemble animal-based meat are ‘in’ right now.
We’re starting to also see conversations around fashion, cosmetics and household items and some of those developments are exciting, particularly with biotech materials.
You have so many projects and knowledge about the market – what kinds of projects are you working on and what kind of projects are coming next for you?
I’m currently focusing on writing about vegan and plant-based business trends and companies for my Forbes column to show the general business community that this is a sector that is growing and is profitable for them. I’m also continuing to speak and host panels in this area and helping vegan brands to raise their profile. There may be another book on the way!