Startups launch expecting a flurry of media coverage from small to big outlets. However, it soon dawns on them that the process of getting press coverage is long and takes work. As they shift gears into making that happen, so many mistakes are made and a lot of money goes to waste. The biggest assets of any startups are money and time. Saving each of these and focusing them appropriately creates a huge lifeline.
As far as the PR game goes, there is no point of casting empty nets. At Pressfarm, we have worked with tens of startups to help them achieve their PR efforts and below are the mistakes that we have noticed being committed. We thought you should learn from them;
1. Not measuring results
Doing PR without measuring the results is like writing blank cheques. It does not help your bottom line in any way.
Startups must endeavour to keep tracking the PR metrics they have set and analysing after every other week what is working and what isn’t.
For startups that choose to do their own PR, staying on top of the numbers, knowing which outlets bring in the best leads, and being accountable to your benchmarks will help you achieve publicity that grows your startup.
Startups that choose to hire PR agencies should press the agencies for results. If you want to analyse your PR game, the agency should be able to provide measurable results to sift what is working from what isn’t.
Successful PR is about measuring results, taking action and tweaking PR strategies, and essentially understanding what metrics affect the company’s benchmarks.
2. Unrealistic expectations
Many are the times startups engage in PR expecting to hit a thousand new customers. Whether you are doing your own PR or you have a PR agency helping you out with that, do not expect immediate results. It is always advised to give yourself or the PR agency about 60-90 days to deliver before trying something different.
This is because PR is a long game, and it builds and compounds the efforts slowly over time. Unless your startup is extremely ground-breaking, you cannot expect to be featured in media outlets like TechCrunch or Forbes overnight. It takes work and even if it were to happen, don’t expect a flurry of customers to sign up to your platform.
Managing your expectations will help you take short steps every day in implementing your PR strategies and getting you closer to the end goal.
3. Assuming that PR is the only way
Well, i hate to break it to you but PR is not the only answer to your company’s growth. It is essential, but it takes that and much more to achieve the growth and speed that you would like.
While investing in PR, invest as well in your content marketing. Put some work into your social media and invest in consistently educating, informing and assisting your customers using powerful blog posts.
Getting published on the New York Times, or in TechCrunch is a huge achievement. It will get you some good publicity. You will receive maybe 5,000 unique visits to your site that day, it might translate into a couple hundred free trial signups. However, that incoming traffic won’t be there a few days after that. You will go back to the struggle of looking for more users and trying to maintain the growth curve.
PR is good as a boost to your company’s message, but a few hundred free trial customers won’t give your startup the sustenance it needs to wade through murky waters. You should do more. Don’t sit and wait for the press, leverage other PR and growth strategies to keep growing your user numbers.
4. Using a PR agency with no saas experience
For Saas startups, it is advisable to use a PR agency that has worked with other Saas companies before. The experience they pack could go a long way to help you get your Saas product out there. Looking at the number of Saas startups we have worked with at Pressfarm has taught us that there is nothing better than the experience we have gained.
The key question to ask yourself when choosing a PR agency is whether they deliver. Base your choice on results. Ask where other Saas startups working with them before have been featured. Be wary of agencies that are all talk and no proof. They talk about success stories and push numbers that they cannot substantiate.
Since the Saas product idea is fairly new in the industry and is yet to take firm grounding, most big PR agencies have probably not worked with Saas startups before. It’s therefore important to investigate well before committing your money month after month. It might even be worth just carrying out your own PR as a startup instead of hiring big guns for it.
5. Not having a PR strategy
Jumping into PR without having set up the goals, timelines, schedules, how-to, and objectives is like starting something without a plan. For very many startups, the focus is usually on publicity.
However, if you are not strategizing in your PR efforts, your money and time is running to waste. It doesn’t matter how much you try, mostly without a plan all your efforts go in vain.
A PR strategy needs to guide all your PR efforts. Just the same way you have a plan for your product development, is the same way it should be for your marketing and PR efforts to reduce wastage and do the right things at the right times.
6. Concentrating on the wrong story
Of all the mistakes that can kill a startup’s PR efforts, telling the wrong story is probably one of the biggest. Startups need to zero in on the story that will make an audience tick.
The biggest mistake in this instance is focusing on pitching your story like a sales pitch. Like we have advised our clients before, journalists are never ever looking for sales pitches. They are looking for stories. They want to know how you built the company, what’s the story or inspiration behind it all is, and how ground-breaking it is for the market among many other interesting story angles.
Startups that have hit it big have been in touch with the big ideas within their companies. Not just being in touch with that aspect but also telling the stories of those big ideas. One company is Slack – which has benefited from their strong story telling capabilities.
Another company is Facebook, whose founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has continued to stay on top of the company’s messaging to its users and the media.
To be the startup that is extremely distinguished, founders need to move away from terms like “disruption” and “democratisation”. These terms are used day in day out nowadays.
Every startup is attempting to disrupt a particular market. While dozens of other startups are focusing on disruption as their messaging strong-point, be the founder who focuses and builds on a different story. Make your startup stand out by focusing on a unique story which is at the heart of your company’s idea.
Do you have anything to add to this story? Let us know in the comments section or by chatting us on Twitter @thepressfarm