10 Do-It-Yourself PR Strategies for Startup Founders
The best PR person for a startup is the founder. They are usually the most enthusiastic about their brand. Founders are always where the story began and where it flows deeply within.
They are authentic, and honest about how many times they failed while trying to pursue their dreams. They know their company’s metrics off-head and are never shy to admit that sometimes they were stupid and overreaching. But overreaching is the whole point, that’s how innovation sprung up, and that’s how ideas that became the world’s biggest startup economies (read Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox) came to be.
With such fondness about a company’s products, how could anyone let a PR firm make buzz for them in the world today? Come to think of it, journalists just hate it when they have to hear your story from a PR firm. You are your company’s best promoter and I made a list of DIY PR strategies you should use to take charge of your startup’s publicity:
1. Be Newsworthy
Journalists are always looking for something newsworthy to publish. One thing about politicians is that they have learnt to stay relevant every single day as they get published all over newspapers, magazines and online media companies all the time. Sometimes more than 5 times a day. As a founder, you need to find ways to make your startup stay on the news.
The best way to do that would be to stay relevant. In every pitch, find an angle that resonates with whatever publication you are pitching and highlight that. Don’t force a particular story on every media company or journalist that you approach. However, find points that would interest particular publications.
2. Be a Fascinating story
Most companies that make the news every time have a story behind their success, why they do what they do, and why anyone should care. It’s never just a story but a captivating story.
Think about your business, and ask yourself, “What’s our story?” Play the story in your head several times, put yourself in a journalist’s shoes and ask yourself again, “would this story interest me?”
The bottom-line is this: always have a memorable presentation about your company, product, and team and how you came to be.
3. Find target publications & journalists
It’s important to come up with a list of publications that ply your company’s niche. Then it’s also very important to list journalists that would be interested in your story from this list of publications. How do you find both publications and journalists interested in what you have to say?
Not to brag but this is where Pressfarm comes in. This is a platform that enables you to sort out and filter journalists and publications worldwide to help you settle on your choice of journalists after which you are given the contact information for a small fee. Very easy, right?
4. Press Release Distribution services
With a little budget, you could use newswire services to distribute information about a product launch or a new milestone that your company has met. Journalists are always on this press release services looking for a story and so are bloggers and anyone else that writes. This could provide a huge break for your company if your story catches up with the right journalists. PR companies also use newswire services a lot so instead of hiring a PR firm, you could as well just do it.
5. Find out where your target market resides
You want your company’s story published on web pages, TV Shows, magazines and newspapers that your target market flocks to. Once you have picked your contacts list from Pressfarm, the best thing to do is to visit the publications and read articles from the contacts in your list. Know how your journalists tweet and how their followers respond. Read the stories to see how the reporters compose them and what they are interested in.
After knowing where your target readers and journalists reside, craft a proper pitch that shows you have done your homework and send it. Check out these insights on why your startup doesn’t get press to guide you on how to do PR the right way.
6. Stay niche relevant
Your contact journalists won’t get back to you if the story is not made to fill their niche. That’s your one job. For example, you could have a technology company that makes mobile applications but how do you make a huge gaming publication like Gamespot want to write about you?
Let’s say you have built a few games before. That’s what you pitch to them about. They are not interested in the android calculator you built; nor are they interested in the reminders application that you are so proud of. They want gaming stories. Give them those. That’s how you fill in a niche that isn’t your core product.
7. Make your pitch personal
Don’t copy and paste your email and send it to every other journalist you spent a lot of time looking for. Don’t send out mass emails to journalists as well. Make every pitch different and let it be on a personal level. Make the journalist want to write back. Talk about stories they covered and how you got an interest in them. Tell them your story is exclusive and let that be true. Inform them why their readers would be interested. Don’t spam your contacts.
Be respectful and show how much work you have done in learning what your contacts and their target readers are interested in.
8. Avoid email
Okay, by all means, use email. But when you can avoid it, that’s a good strategy. See, everyone out there is sending emails to someone. Every journalist out there is receiving hundreds of pitches every month through email. That’s what other people are using. How about being different? Ever heard of Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter or LinkedIn? Yeah, me too.
Sometimes to separate yourself from everyone else, using social media might be a life-saver for your PR efforts. It’s not because email doesn’t work. It’s because on social media it’s less noisy. You can try sending a message through the big four social networks I just mentioned, sometimes they work better. If you insist on using email, just make sure to go through this article on how to cold email journalists the right way.
9. Ummm… there’s thing called video
… and there are these platforms called YouTube and Vimeo. Creating a video that shows how your product changes lives and businesses out there could be the best thing you do. Just be creative, and make a video that can go viral immensely. You don’t need to spend your fortune on a video. For $5 you could get video ideas from Fiverr. For a few more dollars your video could get done and dusted using freelancer platforms like Videopixie.
Also share your video on Facebook and Google Plus as videos are becoming increasingly common on these social networks.
A great video for a great product could do great PR for your business if put out there.
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a platform that pairs reporters to sources for news and other stories. You can sign up as a source for your company’s feature story and get coupled with a reporter for the story. It has several categories so your niche is probably covered there.
Have I left any other DIY PR strategies out of this list? Let me know by reaching out to me through our company’s Twitter page @thepressfarm.