A good PR strategy for startups is an opportunity to build both a loyal customer base and great media relations. The thing about PR is that relationships – just like anything else in the world – determine your success in it. The fact is that a good PR strategy doesn’t necessarily have to be a press release, or mass emailing journalists to try and get their attention. In fact, at Pressfarm we discourage our users from the idea of sending mass emails with the hope of getting several replies from the media. It never works. PR is changing and 2018 has very new trends governing how companies achieve press coverage.
Without spending a huge budget of your funding in PR, you can use these very pro-level tips to get ahead of the news, in online publications and on newspapers.
1. Study the competition
Track the press coverage that your competitors receive and find ways to get in on the mix. The best way for this is to start building the relationships with the journalists who cover your competition long before you ever need them to cover your brand. Start by reaching out to them to provide a news tip, or updating them on a new market trend. What we found working at Pressfarm is aside from sending over your news tips, resource, or market trends, suggest to the journalist an interesting angle to which they can approach in writing the story.
The goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the journalists. Eventually when you do pitch your product to them, it won’t look like you’re just trying to get them writing about your company. It will feel like they are returning a favor to a very good friend.
2. Talk to people
Emails, phone calls, cold emails to journalists, social media, and networking sites among others are cool and all. However, sometimes you achieve so much more in your PR strategy if you get out there and talk to people face-to-face.
Go to networking events, conferences, and meetups within your industry. You might get a chance to pitch your product to a few people and that is much more attention sometimes than you would get from sending out emails or social media posts for months.
Journalists attend so many of these events too. You could get a contact, invite them for coffee and make friends. Someday they might just write about your product.
Do not underestimate the effectiveness of post-conference follow-up. People, in this case the press, are more likely to want to meet up immediately after the first interaction at a conference. Plan a coffee or lunch, invite them and catch up on the discussion you didn’t finish. Build on the relationships.
3. Elevator pitch
If you cannot explain what your company does in only 10 seconds or so, you have clearly failed to understand what your company does. It is that simple.
In simple terms, what you do not understand, no journalist will attempt to understand on your behalf.
A journalist wants to write a story on a product that can be easily understood in simple terms by the readers. If the founder can explain what the product is about without complicating everything up, it is a strong positive impression.
Master your elevator pitch perfectly. It makes it very easy for someone to write a story about your startup.
4. Leverage the right medium
When you think of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter; which network presents the best opportunity for your brand to stay consistent with its message and grow?
Some brands work very well on Pinterest, others are perfect for Instagram, while some perform very well on Twitter but not Facebook and vice-versa. As a founder, it is important to use these mediums to push your brand’s message. To avoid breaking the bank, you should understand the network that presents the best opportunity for growth with very little spending of funds.
For instance, some brands have built a consistent branding message – that their companies represent a lifestyle, not a product. On Instagram, such stories have gone viral without huge budgets. Could your startup achieve the same?
5. Identify your ideal media outlets
Take a pen and paper, research and find your dream media companies. Is it Mashable? Forbes? TechCrunch? CNN? Vogue? BBC?
Knowing very well the publications you would like to be in allows you to start following and analyzing pieces of news from these publications.
Early research helps when you finally pitch your product because you will have understood what story angle fits what media outlet. For instance, Mashable is a bit towards the trendy news, while TechCrunch is more into in-depth startup news breakouts and analysis.
Understanding these distinctions allows you to start preparing story angles geared and customized towards each of these outlets.
6. Differentiate PR from marketing and advertising
PR is just that: PR. Public relations has been confused for marketing or advertising. These confusions have gone into PR strategies leading to people having very poor PR results. A startup ought to have a marketing strategy, an advertising strategy, and a PR strategy. None of these are the same.
When you are working on your PR, always remember that the goal of PR is to get high quality coverage; not high quantity.
The most personalized and relevant approaches towards PR always deliver great results.
A founder doesn’t have to appear in the company’s adverts, or marketing campaigns. However, founders who have taken charge of their company’s PR – a good example being Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – have gotten their companies to become daily topics in the press.
In the process, they have built great companies with huge revenues and profits.
Founders can not only use press releases and email pitches, but also brand events, thought-leadership platforms, charitable programs, influencer initiatives, and partnerships to get ahead of their company’s PR message.