The best person to head PR for a startup is the founder, because they are usually the most enthusiastic about their brand. Founders were there when the story began. In addition, they are involved in both the everyday running of the company as well as the company’s milestones.
Founders are honest about how many times they failed while trying to pursue their dreams. They know their company’s metrics off-head and never shy away from admitting that sometimes they were stupid and overreaching. But overreaching is the whole point, that’s how innovation happens, and that’s how what began as ideas turned into the world’s biggest startup economies (read Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox).
With such fondness for a company’s products and investment in the company’s success, founders are the best people to head their PR campaigns. Even when a company opts to hire an external PR professional to run their PR, it is important for the founder to remain informed and involved throughout. Ultimately, as a startup founder, you are your company’s most valuable ambassador. We’ve 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 so that they can keep getting published in newspapers, magazines and online media outlets. The most newsworthy politicians appear in the news daily, sometimes more than 5 times a day. As a founder, you need to think like a politician and find ways to make your startup stay in 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 one particular story on every media company or journalist that you approach. However, tailor your approach and find points that would interest particular publications.
2. Tell a fascinating story
Companies that make the news always have a story behind their success. They explain to their audiences why they do what they do, and why anyone should care. In order to capture attention, you need to have a captivating brand 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, “Would this story interest me?”
The bottom-line is this: always have a memorable story 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 have access to your company’s niche. Beyond that, it’s also very important to identify which journalists would be interested in specific angles of your story. How do you find both publications and journalists who are interested in what you have to say?
Not to brag but this is where Pressfarm comes in. Our platform that enables you to sort and filter through 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 small budget, you could use newswire services to distribute information about a product launch or a new milestone that your company has met. Journalists and bloggers are always scouring these press release services looking for a story. If your story catches up with the right journalists, then using these services could give you the break your company needs.
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 what kind of content your journalists produce and how their followers engage with this content. Read the stories to see how the reporters compose them and what they are interested in.
Once you know 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 doesn’t meet the needs of their niche. This is one of your most important responsibilities when pitching journalists. For example, let’s assume you have a technology company that makes mobile applications, and you want to approach a huge gaming publication like Gamespot with this story.
Let’s say you have built a few games before. That’s what you pitch 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 these stories. That’s how you stay relevant in a niche that isn’t your core product.
7. Personalize your pitch
Don’t just copy-paste a generic email and send it to all the journalists in your media list. Don’t send out mass emails to journalists either. Tailor your pitch to appeal to every single journalist you reach out to. Reaching out to a journalist on a personal level encourages the journalist to write back. Talk about stories they’ve covered and why you’re interested 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 that you’ve taken time to learn about the media contact as well as their audience.
8. Connect with people
As a startup founder, one of the best things you can do for your brand is building positive one-on-one relationships with your publics. Whether it’s the journalist you’re sending a pitch to, or the customers you’re building your product for, it’s important to build long-term relationships with these people.
If you’ve reached out to a journalist with no strings attached before you have a favour to ask, then you will have an easier time pitching them later on. Building relationships with your media contacts might seem challenging. On the contrary, with the right amount of research and a touch of friendliness, you could be exchanging emails and messages with them in no time.
Similarly, initiating relationships with your clients will help them feel valued. If your customers feel seen and heard, then they are unlikely to go checking out your competition. Rather, feeling seen by the brand they are spending their money on will boost their brand loyalty. You can use social media to engage with both current and potential clients by responding to comments and initiating conversations. Responding to emails and reviews can also strengthen the bond you have with a client.
9. Invest in influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is more effective than traditional advertising when it comes to promoting your brand. This is because influencers are seen as more authentic and trustworthy by their followers. For this reason, your brand could benefit greatly from a good influencer marketing strategy.
Collaborating with an influencer will help you increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. Even so, in order for this to be effective, you should ensure the influencer’s target audience matches yours. Additionally, just as with your journalists, influencers will appreciate you getting to know them before you ask for their help.
10. Ask for feedback
Your customers won’t always leave you reviews, so it’s important to reach out and ask for their feedback proactively. Asking for feedback goes a long way towards helping you build relationships with these customers. Moreover, feedback can give you valuable insights on how your product is performing and what needs to be improved.
For a startup founder, the prospect of doing your own PR while also investing in product development can be scary. We hope this DIY guide makes your job as your company’s most valuable brand ambassador a little easier. However, if you’d prefer to invest more time in building your product, then partnering with a professional to handle the PR side of things is a good idea.
Have we left any other DIY PR strategies out of this list? Let us know by reaching out to me through our company’s Twitter page @pressfarmpr.