Launching a startup before doing enough PR for the product or service could be detrimental to your startup’s success thereafter. It is important to do some PR before launch. This helps you accelerate awareness prior to the launch date and ensures that you have a good number of early users ready to adopt your products.
To achieve this, you need to implement a few PR strategies to get your early users a few weeks before the launch. This way, when you launch you already have a support base that could provide revenue as well as continued feedback. Early user feedback is crucial when you start your company. It helps you grow the product to meet the user needs. Here are some PR strategies to follow before launch:
1. Build an Early Follower Base
Before you launch your startup, it’s important to build a large following that will propel you through the early days of the company. The idea is to have a following that you can count on for support before the product goes live.
Where to build a follower base
Product Hunt is one such place where you can post details of the product you are building and the ideas behind it. People will discuss your product in the comments below your post. If people love your idea, then they will upvote it so that you can appear higher up on the Product Hunt home page. People who upvote you usually form a community that will be eager to know when you are launching so they can test your product.
Social media networks continue to prove that they are an integral part of any startup’s launch. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok among others are social media networks that continue to spread more news than any other newspaper or online magazine today. These networks are where people millennials spend most of their time.
Before you launch your startup, you want to be seen on these networks spreading the word about your idea and what problems it aims to solve. Generating publicity this way will help you build a following that is interested to test your product. There are now more than 700 million people participating in Facebook groups, with millions and millions of groups already created. Making use of such groups could boost your startup at the launch by helping you get new users in your early days.
We have seen many startups launching successfully after using their social media channels to generate a buzz beforehand. Investing in an active presence on your social media platforms won’t cost anything other than time and effort on your part. For this reason, we encourage all our clients to start engaging with their followers long before they’re ready to launch.
Google advertising is another strategy which helps young startups build an early market-base. Once you know your target niche and keywords, you only need to master the Google Ads platform in order to reap maximum benefits.
If you want to build an early follower base, it is also crucial to launch your PR campaign early in the game. Starting your PR campaign a week before you plan to launch your new product will only end in tears. This is because even the best PR campaign will take a few weeks to gain traction for your brand. For this reason, we recommend launching your PR campaign at least one month before your product launch, to get maximum benefits.
Guest blogging has also helped several companies to gain new users before launching. Publishing quality posts on high-authority sites with a lot of traffic leads to more people seeing your post. In addition, your guest posts can attract more traffic from people who follow your links back to your site. Ideally, guest blogging should be done on blogs with readers who would be interested in your new startup. It’s better to focus on a few blogs that within your industry rather than publish hundreds of posts on random blogs. Ultimately, guest blogging is an effective strategy to increase your search engine rankings. Aside from helping you get referral leads its effects on your SEO rankings are also evergreen. If this is something you are struggling with, we have compiled some actionable tips on guest blogging for your brand in 2021.
2. Build Relationships with Industry Journalists
Getting PR is cool when it comes from respected journalists within your niche. These are the people whom you want to be talking to about your idea before launch. We have discussed how you can try to connect with journalists through cold emailing. It is definitely a lot of work, but one of the gems we’ve created here at Pressfarm is the Cold Email Guide. This guide is a series of cold email pitch templates to illustrate how you should craft that first email to a journalist of your choosing. If you still have six months before your product launch, then you also have enough time to send that first email and start building a relationship with this journalist.
The correct way to pitch a journalist
Don’t tell your story in the first email. You will benefit more from building a relationship first. After all, you have a whole six months to do so. Some of the possible ways to begin building a relationship with journalists is to suggest stories to them. If they are interested they will come back for more and to get a source as well, at which point you will have made your initial contact.
When you start by establishing a no-strings-attached relationship, it’s easier to pitch your story to the same journalists as your friends later on. Ideally, this should happen 3 to 4 weeks before your startup goes live. Again, make sure the journalists are in your niche and their readers are the right target market for your product. For more about this check out 13 Reasons why your startup doesn’t get press.
A lot of founders make the mistake of beginning to work on their PR campaigns after they have launched. Strategic and smart entrepreneurs understand that PR is not a one-day activity. They know that journalists are not machines and that these journalists rely on solid relationships to get quality stories. In case you are reading this and you’re planning to launch in a few weeks, start working on your PR campaigns now. This generates a buzz and ensures that people start to trickle into your landing page slowly before launch. With the right timing, you should receive a few replies from journalists by the time you launch. Once you’ve generated some interest, you can demo your product to these people.
3. Write & Share Press Releases
Press releases are a little old fashioned but they still work like a charm. For as long as media houses and journalists exist, press releases will continue to be a valuable source of content for the news.
Prepare a press release that goes deeper into your startup and your idea. Don’t make it a sales pitch. If a press release sounds too much like a sales pitch, you can rest assured it won’t work out for the best. The best press releases by startups prior to launching are those that tell the story behind the idea.
After writing a press release, it won’t read itself, will it? You have to release it to as many press release distribution websites as you could possibly reach. While sharing that press release out there, make sure you put it in the right categories for your niche otherwise it will miss the target market.
4. Share Feedback
What are people saying about your new startup before the launch? This is very important information. Share any positive feedback which you get. You should aim for a huge amount of positive feedback being shared out there for other people to see. This feedback can generate a lot of social proof for you, even before you launch.
When people see the positive feedback, they will be curious about what you’re building. Sharing positive feedback about your product will attract more new users who are willing to test it.
5. Build an Awesome Landing Page with Email Opt-in
You want to drive all those curious souls you have shared your story with to a nicely designed landing page where they will share with you their contact information. Nothing beats a clean email list. When creating your follower base, you will need to send them somewhere where they can leave their names and emails or phone numbers. This way, you can contact them when the startup goes live. That is called a landing page. Quite literally, it is the first place where people land on your website.
There are several tools out there that you can use to create a well-designed landing page with an email opt-in bar. We have discussed about strategies to follow when designing landing pages. Imagine what you could achieve if you have 1,000 email addresses of people who are excited and ready to test your product upon launch. That would be really huge. Using social media, guest blogging, Product Hunt (and other similar services), press releases, an impressive landing page and email opt-in, you can achieve this great feat.
6. Make Sure the Product Works
Before launching, test and test again. Make sure the core function of your product works. When you launch, there will be no going back. If your product crashes or even fails during the first few days when people are still testing it, it will be hard to recover from this blow. You will have lost a huge chunk of interested users.
To avoid this scenario, make sure the core function of your idea works. The product doesn’t have to be perfect at all, it just needs to execute its core function. This is what got you a large following prior to launch. Crashes that come out of too many people downloading your app or visiting your website are understandable because you didn’t foresee the large amounts of traffic. Crashes and disappointments that happen simply because your product’s most important feature doesn’t work are totally intolerable and might be hard to recover from.
When your basic function works, that first week of launching could get you thousands or hundreds of users and a lot more PR than you could ever imagine.
7. Using Kickstarter/Indiegogo
Many startups have used crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to not only raise funds for product development and distribution but also to gain some PR before the official launch date. Most of these startups have developed a basic product and are willing to get test users who also fund-raise for further development or mass manufacturing.
Projects that go beyond their crowdfunding goals get a lot of early users like the PuzzleUp jigsaw puzzle which made a splash on Kickstarter last year. They also get a lot of media coverage on news sites like TechCrunch, Engadget, Mashable, The Verge, etc. The result is a lot of press and people talking about it on social media.
We have worked on several crowdfunding campaigns, helping entrepreneurs get as much media attention as possible on media outlets in order to meet their crowdfunding goals.
8. Join Communities
There are hundreds of thousands of online communities for specific niches. They range from tech to architecture; from bikes to planes; from gaming to sports and entertainment. Almost any community you can think of exists online somewhere.
You can find these communities also exist on various online platforms like Reddit. Joining these communities to discuss about your soon-to-be-launched startup could get you interested people who will spread the word.
9. Build Relationships with Industry Influencers
Industry influencers are a good bunch of people to keep close. Want to find out who are the industry influencers for your niche? There are apps for that and we will cover those apps in future, however, a simple search on Google will prove helpful.
Find out about the industry voices that matter and pitch them about your new startup. Very few of them might care about your new product. It’s those few that your new startup needs. Industry influencers are a network. If you can get one or two of those in your corner, imagine what a simple tweet from them could do for your startup’s PR. Such a mention would trigger the influencers who didn’t take notice of you to go and check your product.
As we’ve said before, timing is key when you’re launching a PR campaign. You shouldn’t start building a follower base and kicking out press releases months before you launch, that will be too early. People will get tired of waiting and eventually forget about you.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t build a follower base 2 days before launching your product. You will get very few email opt-ins for early users consequently leading to poor traction after launch. Therefore, it’s important to find out the correct timing for these strategies alongside your product launch-date and see what works for you.
So, what is the best timing for my PR campaign?
In our opinion, building a following is good when it’s done about 6 to 8 weeks before launch. Don’t forget, building a relationship with a journalist should start months before that. Finding a proper journalist to feature your story can be a very difficult task. Getting their contacts is even harder most of the time.
Pressfarm has built a comprehensive media database to help founders in these early stages of building a startup to connect with more than 75,000 journalists from different industries. In addition, each Pressfarm client gets curated media lists containing contacts in their niche.
On top of directing you to the right journalists to tell your story, Pressfarm creates quality content which can help you capture media attention when it is time for your media outreach. We are skilled at writing professional press releases which to pique a journalist’s curiosity. Our PR writers also have experience developing feature articles to excite your target audience and drive action. Moreover, our design team is committed to building creative press kits which will help you create a memorable impression with your brand.
Want to add something to our story? Reach out to us on Twitter @pressfarmpr
When Pressfarm first started out we were a database for founders to search and find journalists’ contacts in order to build their media lists. However, Pressfarm has now pivoted into a full-fledged PR agency that caters towards the needs of startups and young companies that are trying to grow their online businesses. We offer our expertise in developing memorable PR campaigns to ensure that companies are able to achieve their full potential, gain more leads, more customers and higher revenues.
We would advise that you begin working on your PR campaign as soon as possible. Your first step would be checking out our different packages which are tailored towards getting the maximum results in the shortest time possible.