Public relations is usually either oversimplified or overcomplicated, meaning that people often assume it’s either based on a sole objective or too abstract for them to figure out.
In this guide, I will break down the process of building a great PR strategy for any tech startup. To create a successful PR strategy, one should consider the following factors:
- What is tech PR?
- What can tech PR accomplish?
- When should you start investing in PR?
- How does one create a tech PR strategy?
- What types of tech PR exist?
What is tech PR?
PR is the process of building a relatable public image of a brand or organization to attract potential clients and customers. So, with this skeletal concept of PR, tech PR simply accomplishes that task by using the media to create a positive reputation for your technology and digital business.
The reason businesses need tech PR is because not only is it reputation management, but it can also be used to overcome challenges. In today’s digital age, tech PR is a necessary ingredient in an organization’s success.
What can tech PR accomplish?
Regardless of the type of PR you engage in, a lot of startups question whether it is truly a necessity and why they should invest in it from the get-go. As a business owner, you’re determined to invest your funds in anything that can provide the quickest return.
Some challenges that a lot of startups face are: securing funding, attracting the best talent, growing a customer base, and scaling the business. This is where a well-planned start-up PR strategy comes in because it creates the foundation required to get where you want to go.
For example, when a potential investor is trying to search for you and your startup, you want to have a combination of awareness, social proof, and credibility so you can secure the necessary funding. Tech PR can also help you to grow your user or customer base. Regular marketing is great if you simply want to drive traffic to your website. If, however, you want to build a credible and long-lasting digital footprint, consumers need to have confidence in your brand. Tech PR helps you create that digital footprint by generating media coverage.
When should you start investing in PR?
While it may seem tempting to leave PR until your product launch, it is important that you invest your time and energy in public relations from the beginning. You need to start building legitimacy, trust, and awareness before your product even hits the market. PR should therefore come into play in the early stages of setting up your brand.
An important tool for planning and executing your PR strategy is your owned media channels. Make sure that your website and social media channels are fully functioning and ready to go. Don’t be afraid to ask for external help with this if you need it.
Another important prerequisite is your mission statement. This shows customers, suppliers, journalists, influencers and the public what your organization cares about and educates people about what you do. Your mission statement is also there to inform everyone about the direction of your company, the company culture and employee relations.
Taking time to build a mission statement and develop an informative media kit will inspire the public to believe in you and support your brand. Your statement and your media kit should contain everything that any media outlet needs to know about your startup. When combined, these two pieces should help with the “story” you are trying to build with your PR strategy.
How to create a PR strategy
So you’ve created your mission statement and compiled your media kit. The next step is planning your PR strategy. You can break this down into two parts: setting media goals and planning media activity.
Much like any other goal, your media goals will determine what kind of publications you need to reach out to and the type of narrative you need to establish. Media goals are often linked with business goals and can include: securing funding, launching a new product, and growing a user base. As with the process of developing your mission statement and media kit, defining your media goals will give your PR strategy a sense of direction.
Planning media activity will also help you develop an effective strategy. This would initially be a rough plan because generally PR is about responding quickly to current events and monetizing on trends, so it is hard to plan every little detail months in advance. Focus on things that you know are set in stone, like beta launches, full product launches, major releases, and any other events that you had planned. From here, you can fill in the blanks with content inspired by current events. For example, a piece addressing the economic impact of COVID-19 and offering advice and resources for startups and small businesses would interest the public and get attention.
Types of tech PR
Now it’s time to execute your plan. As mentioned before, it’s important to target the right media. You need to think of your target audience and approach media outlets that work closely with that audience. It’s best to identify and approach relevant media outlets then perform targeted media outreach and pitching. Pitches sent to a journalist’s personal email address are generally more likely to be noticed than those sent to a general inquiries email address. At this step, it’s worth spending extra money on a public relations agency like Pressfarm which can build a media list and run a targeted media outreach campaign for you.
You need to build relationships with media outlets from the outset. “Ask not what a journalist or influencer can do for you, but what you can do for a journalist or influencer.” It’s all about a give and take relationship. Some ways to build relationships with journalists are through networking at events, engaging on social media, and offering an expert comment on news stories. Something as simple as alerting a journalist about a typo a story they’ve published could go a long way towards building trust with that journalist.
When you are developing your pitch, it is important to evaluate just how important and newsworthy it is from the media outlet’s perspective. You can measure this with 5 factors: timing, significance, proximity, prominence, and human interest. Understanding these factors will give you a realistic idea of the type of publication you should reach out to.
There are different types of tech PR, so let’s dive in:
1. Press releases
As mentioned before, you need to develop a relationship with media outlets so you can partner with them to build a favorable brand image and gain more coverage. Press releases make the media’s work easy because they contain all the important pieces of the story you want a journalist to tell. A media outlet will especially appreciate you taking time to tailor the story to their audience. This will convince them of the story’s relevance and help them build a compelling story.
For example, if your company has developed something new to fill a gap in the market, and you’re improving lives, large media outlets will definitely be interested in publishing this story. However, if your news is that you have hired new people or gotten a new office, you may want to send the press release to any local news stations who would be more interested in a story about their immediate community.
Once you are convinced that you have relevant news and you’ve compiled a list of the right media outlets, you will need a great press release to get things started. This press release should be interesting, informative, and concise.
Take a look at some press release guides here. You can also reach out to Pressfarm’s PR team to curate your press release.
2. Blogger and influencer outreach
The average person might underestimate social media influencers, but they are actually a very valuable asset when it comes to promoting your product or service. To maximize your impact, focus on influencers with:
- 10,000+ followers
- Brands that want to engage with them to help promote their products/services/messages.
- Expertise in their field
- Information to share about products that they love
While they may be considered celebrities in the traditional sense, influencers and bloggers are very popular among younger audiences and they have a great deal of selling power. Since their audiences trust them, influencers have a great deal of influence on how these people spend their money and which brands they support.
Influencer outreach involves collaborating with vloggers, bloggers, and social media personalities to promote your brand to their followers. Building an influencer outreach campaign can be simple if you employ the right strategies. However, this is only worth doing if their followers are also your target audience.
Since influencers charge for collaboration opportunities, you need to calculate your ROI. In general, research has found that ROI on influencer outreach is about 11 times higher than traditional marketing forms.
3. Thought leadership
For tech companies, this type of PR is the one that yields the best results.
Thought leaders are considered to be the ‘influencers’ of the business world because they are experts in their field, their opinions are trusted and respected, and they have a large network of connections. You don’t need to be Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg to get the attention of a thought leader. All you need is something new or interesting to say.
Creating a thought leadership tech PR campaign will involve writing quite a few feature articles. If you are a confident writer then you can write the articles yourself, but you can also hire a PR team to ghost-write these for you. Most industry and trade publications will create high-quality features that fit with the news agenda. So, while is very possible to do it alone, you may have better success if you work with a PR agency.
4. Internal communications
This is something that is often overlooked by a lot of companies because they’re usually focused on external communication and forget about the internal team. This is quite a shame because if executed correctly, internal communications can be one of the most valuable investments you make for your business.
Ultimately, even if you employ influencers and other media outlets, your employees are your best brand ambassadors. If you have employees who are motivated to come to work and have fully internalized your business values, it works in your favor because they are the ones delivering your products and services and interacting face-to-face with your customers. To run an effective PR campaign, you need people who are well-informed about your product and have a positive opinion of your brand. If you have motivated employees who feel appreciated and seen at work, you already have brand ambassadors who you can always rely on.
Broadcast PR works in a similar way as old-school news outreach. Much like everything else, you need to have a strong news story to attract attention. It also helps if your story has a strong visual or emotive angle. You need to make sure that you are prepared before you initiate contact because when you are working with TV or radio teams, they are generally on a tight deadline. If you’re not time-conscious, it can hinder your chances of success, both immediately and in the future.
6. Integrated communications
It has been found that tech PR works better when combined with other powerful aspects of communications. Integrated communications is a technique that ensures that all forms of communications and messages work together and complement each other. It involves applying tech PR as part of a strategy to build a positive brand image. Since integrated communications incorporates all types of PR, it should also include a great website, captivating social media, and strategic email marketing.
Now that you know what tech PR is and how it can help your startup, all you need to do is start putting everything you’ve learned in motion. It may seem like a daunting task but, if you’ve got all the pieces, everything will come together just like the pieces in a puzzle.
A startup launch story might not attract large media outlets, but you can pique their attention and start building a media footprint by focusing on the human element. You can develop a narrative about your startup that is original to your brand and inspirational and THAT is what you should pitch to the media.
When the time for your product launch arrives, having a press release on hand is a very strategic step. You can use that to build exposure for your product launch immediately. From there, additional PR tactics will build upon the press release and help your product get more exposure in the market. All these factors combined will ultimately help you create the perfect Tech PR startup strategy.