PR and marketing are costly processes. What’s more, at a time when the online world can often seem even more relevant than the real one, this process is also a lot more complex. Indeed, a product launch can fail because you’ve done insufficient or poorly-timed PR and marketing. Nevertheless, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort, you can still attain incredible results, even with a relatively small budget. In fact, there are many success stories that illustrate how a tight PR budget is by no means a limitation.
As you know, the PR and marketing landscape has changed considerably in recent years with an online world providing easy access to a mainstream audience. At the same time, this easy access has also increased competition across every industry. As a result, there is now a lot more noise through which startups need to cut in order to get noticed.
That being said, here is precisely how low-profile startups get creative enough to feature in National Press and other prominent publications:
How Startups Gain Traction with the National Press
Although hiring a PR firm is sometimes necessary for startups who want to get ahead, there are brands that have managed to secure media coverage without external help. Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to capture media attention.
Establish a meaningful network
Reddit is now one of the most famous and prominent web pages on the internet. Nevertheless, there was a time when Reddit creators were desperately seeking coverage from a wider audience.
At this time, Alexis Ohanian struck up a friendship with a writer for Wired in order to establish a meaningful network of contacts. Although Rachel Metz would indeed become a friend, Ohanian would learn that there was no way for Metz to write about Reddit without the article coming across as biased in some way. At first, this news seems disappointing. On the contrary, an associate of Rachel Metz would later contact the creators of Reddit and suggest that they cover the platform in a feature article on Wired and, later, Condé Nast Magazine.
Of course, there was an element of luck in this instance but the truth is, this is merely an example of what can happen as a result of establishing meaningful relationships. As opposed to a tacky email introduction, this is also a much more effective way to pursue contacts and build a PR strategy in general.
Establishing these relationships is a rather easy process and requires little more than a thoughtful approach in which you can offer to help a contact without expecting anything in return. As you might expect, this is also the best way to ensure a contact does not feel “used.” For this reason, if you want to build trust with your contacts, then this is the way to go.
Pay attention to bloggers and influencers
Tim Ferriss is a world-famous author who is well known for creating relationships with a network of bloggers and using this network to promote his books. While this may seem a little contrived, the relationships were meaningful in every way. As with the point above, the bloggers were happy to promote Tim’s books and this network would present many future opportunities.
In a similar sense, many brands are now recognizing the importance of bloggers and influencers. After all, these respected figures make good collaborators for PR firms. This is largely due to their highly interactive audiences. Furthermore, when bloggers get involved with a particular product or company, they tend to feel invested and responsible in some way for the outcome. For example, Eventbrite used a network of influential bloggers to catapult them into the minds of the national press.
When half of the tech blogging industry was talking about Eventbrite, this put the brand on the radar for the media. It’s true that bloggers and influencers will usually require a certain fee for their assistance. Even so, this is usually a lot more affordable than paying for advertising space in a newspaper. For this reason, many businesses succeed with influencer marketing.
Use your owned media to complement your press releases
While press releases are great for media outreach, they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your PR strategy. It’s important to use your owned media channels to complement your traditional press release.
For example, you can publish an engaging video on social media that is more likely to capture the attention or imagination of an audience. Needless to say, video is just one option. There are many forms of content that can complement your press release while widening your reach. Furthermore, there are cost-effective ways to nurture future collaborations such as Medium, which is a creative place to publish a media kit.
The standard press release can seem boring, but using multimedia content to boost your press release can help you stand out from the competition.
Pay it forward with persistence and quality
Gary Vaynerchuck is one of the leading motivational speakers and businessmen in the world. As the CEO of a leading company called Vaynermedia, the marketing guru is also well known for paying it forward. Gary often responds to the thousands of comments he gets on social media every day. He also goes to every length to interact with fans he meets in person. We can see his dedication to his fanbase in his daily vlogs and his endless enthusiasm for giving out free information. That is to say, Vaynerchuck is always eager to inspire or encourage others to seek out their passion. Unlike public figures in the same domain, he charges nothing for this content.
That being said, this approach has catapulted him to the forefront of world business and marketing. Although his businesses are based on solid blueprints and strategy, we can clearly see how paying it forward has brought millions of followers to his social media channels.
With this in mind, we can also see how Vaynerchuck used persistence and excellent content to propel his family’s wine business into the limelight. As you know, creating content requires time rather than money. Although his initial efforts could have been considered a “failure” at the time, his Wine Library channel would go on to be one of the most successful in the United States. Interestingly enough, this YouTube channel was receiving less than one hundred views per day for a prolonged period. However, with persistence and a focus on quality, success was inevitable.
Document the process
You may be familiar with the rise of daily vlogs. Startups can learn from successful vloggers who focus on documenting the journey instead of focusing on creativity. The above-mentioned Gary Vaynerchuck is well known for this approach. As Vaynerchuck can tell you, documenting a journey requires less effort than trying to create quality content from scratch.
With this in mind, startups can gain excellent traction online by documenting their journey from designing the company all the way up to the launch. As you know, video and reality content goes viral easily. Documenting the trials and tribulations is an excellent way to gain support and publicity. Although it may seem like a glamorous example, every reality music show from X-Factor to America’s Got Talent uses this very same approach. It is thanks to this approach that the stars in this show become household names by the time a winner is announced.
Tell relevant stories to keep trending
Reddit is one of many sites that rank content based on popularity and virality. That is to say, the users vote on this content which means that readers can be sure that the most prominent pieces are indeed the most interesting. Platforms such as Reddit offer startups access to trending content and feedback should they need any. On Reddit, if this content is deemed popular, this can be a powerful source of traffic and exposure for a startup.
On a slightly different note, savvy PR firms are also experienced in terms of using these platforms to identify trending topics for interesting story angles. As a rule, creating content based on a trending topic or a relevant story is an effective way to attract the attention of the public.
Professional marketers often refer to this as creating content “around the peg.” Startups are often unexpectedly born from this process alone. For example, Neil Patel, a world-famous marketing guru, is a huge believer in following trends. He recommends that every startup should remain aware of emerging trends and he consistently demonstrates the power of this very tactic. For example, five years ago, infographics emerged as a popular content marketing tactic. When Patel decided to focus on infographics, traffic to his website increased by more than 193%.
Moral of the story: produce relevant content and keep up with popular trends.
Be disruptive and demand attention
Simply put, disruptive innovation is a technique that creates something special without following any set of rules or guidelines you would normally associate with similar businesses.
Airbnb and Uber are far from “boring” startups. These are both fine examples of small-budget concepts which received widespread media coverage. For the most part, the reason for this coverage was due to the disruptive nature of the technology. For instance, the hotel industry has suffered immensely in the face of Airbnb’s success. Likewise, taxi companies continue to go out of business because of Uber.
As already mentioned, many of these new technology companies are not privy to the financial backing of existing businesses. Nevertheless, they use disruptive innovation to force their way into the minds of publishers and prominent media.
Never settle and always pursue more press
“And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” ~ Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, the mastermind behind Apple, was always adamant that entrepreneurs and businesses should never rest on their laurels. In other words, he felt that too many businesses made the same mistake of depending and relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights. You should always aim to gain further publicity instead of basking in the glow of what has already passed.
Take the road less traveled
Although it may seem as though hundreds of publishers suddenly decide to cover a particular business or concept, this is actually the result of an enormous effort. For example, when Elon Musk decided to proceed with a blueprint to create underground tunnels to solve traffic problems. He used some rather strange tactics to raise finances and attract the attention of the national press. Indeed, The Boring Company decided to sell flamethrowers and a range of quirky goods as a marketing and financing tactic. It’s true that Elon Musk is often invited onto many prominent channels. However, the truth is that this alternative approach stands out as a talking point that brings further attention to the main objective. Needless to say, this was also a very affordable way to gain publicity. After all, the products raised millions of dollars.
How to Develop a Strategy for featuring in the National Press
Sure, there are standard tactics that come in handy when it comes to approaching the PR side of a startup. While conventional press releases may work, the above tactics are often more effective. Furthermore, the following steps offer a more detailed view of the general strategy and what this process will look like. That being said, this is merely a micro guide as to how successful startups approach PR and principles that tend to nurture a more positive outcome.
1. The strategy
Unfortunately for most startups, too many of them pay little attention to the way in which they contact media or reporters. In most cases, this involves finding the first email address available, usually an editor, and pasting a generic email requesting coverage.
The truth is, this is likely to alienate the recipient and leave them with no desire to continue the communication. On the other hand, if you take the time to research the reporter and find out what interests them, you can tailor this email in such a way that it feels personal and important to the reader.
Moreover, you should highlight precisely what the reporter needs to know including the potential headline of an article and a cohesive storyline that sounds attractive. In order to create this email, you should take time to craft the piece and eliminate jargon wherever possible.
2. Crafting the pitch
Once again, there is no point in reaching out to a target market that has no interest in the subject matter. With this in mind, addressing a broad market is a bad idea. This is usually considered spam by the reader. One way to ensure the message is received by the right readers is to profile the market. Ensure that you are addressing the right people in the first place.
3. Staying organized and recording contacts
Spreadsheets are an excellent way to stay organized. These should be used to record all contacts as well as important communication. Take note of reporters who respond favorably and record these interactions in a media list. This helps you to remember who you can reach out to again.
4. Building relationships with reporters
As with the bloggers, you should seek to establish meaningful relationships with reporters instead of bombarding them with requests. After all, a meaningful email is much more likely to stand out in an inbox full of requests. For this reason, meeting in person is also an excellent idea. Events, in particular, offer the perfect opportunity to meet these individuals in a social environment.
5. Differentiation and handling rejection
As a rule, reporters are always looking for something different and a unique selling point with a genuine story. If you can help craft this story, reporters are more likely to take an interest. This is certainly true given that most interactions are rather dull and uninteresting for reporters.
On the other hand, in the case of rejection or lack of interest, avoid responding in a negative manner. After all, you may need their help with an alternative story in the future. Negativity does little more than leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Note on National Press Vs. Smaller Publications
Featuring in the national press is a big deal and certainly, a benchmark that businesses should keep in mind. Be that as it may, there are other methods that can be much more effective. For example, PR firms will often target several smaller agencies or outlets instead of the national media. This can generate much more impressive results. In this sense, audiences are now a lot more fragmented so the smaller audiences can be niche and more relevant. With this in mind, many of the low-profile startups will target smaller outlets. These are also a lot more affordable.
Employing a PR Firm for Startups
Many savvy entrepreneurs will take on the role of PR and marketing with vigor. While this is impressive, it is also an incredibly time-consuming process that can take your focus away from important parts of the business. For this reason, PR firms often offer an affordable way to ensure the right tactics and methods are being used to promote the startup. In fact, partnering with PR agencies like Pressfarm can give you incredible peace of mind.
After all, with a professional press release, engaging guest posts, and an eye-catching media kit from experts, you can make a splash in your industry. What’s more, you can get this quality content while still focusing on product development.
In addition to creating this content for you, Pressfarm can also help you put it in front of the right eyes. By submitting your content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can boost your online visibility. This distribution strategy is designed to ensure your brand ranks in relevant search results across different search engines.
Finally, as a Pressfarm client, you also get custom media lists that align with your niche as well as your business goals. Together with a media database of 1 million+ journalists, bloggers, and influencers. These media lists are designed to help you partner with the best media professionals in your niche.
With Pressfarm, you can generate the publicity your brand deserves, wrapped up in three affordable packages.
As you can see, there are many underlying principles that boring startups will use to gain traction in the mainstream. Although there are costs associated with some of these, they are more than affordable next to conventional PR tactics. In fact, when you consider the immense time and effort needed to pursue a PR strategy for a startup, employing a PR firm might just be the best money you will ever spend.