Doing PR planning for a press launch is a lot like hosting a party: you want it to be huge. You want a large number of people to attend and be wowed. After all, you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into developing the perfect product and you’re finally ready to share it with the public. You’ve finally pressed the start button, but nothing happens. Nobody shows up to your get-together. Your emails to journalists have gone unanswered. Your launch, your one chance to make a big splash, barely registers as a blip on the internet’s surface.
Many businesses have learned this lesson the hard way. While corporate communications go beyond media relations, that particular duty requires a unique combination of components. Even if you have all of them, you may still fall short. Since the tech media is in turmoil these days, startups are suffering more than ever. Fewer companies are being covered, and there is lots of noise to cut through.
Getting national news coverage, such as in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, may look like the ultimate victory, but it is rarely necessary to generate publicity. While this was once the goal of every corporation and public relations practitioner, it is no longer the case. Audiences are now highly dispersed. It is now possible to achieve a similar effect by combining a number of smaller, more specialized channels.
To make good on this claim, founders must let go of the notion that they need lots of high-profile press to create an impact. Whether you’re looking for job seekers, potential customers, or investors, the real win is getting your message in front of the appropriate people, there are numerous strategies and methods that you can use to reach your target demographic.
PR planning tips for a startup
Many entrepreneurs think of hiring a public relations firm first when looking to capture media attention. However, the majority of reputable firms want a minimum retainer charge of $20,000. If your company isn’t ready to spend the money, there are alternatives. Investing time in your own execution is one possibility. If you go down this route, make sure you approach PR in the same way that you approach your product development. You can run a small PR campaign to get coverage in niche outlets that are more likely to help you get to your target audience, instead of spending thousands of dollars for media coverage in a huge media outlet. This can actually be more rewarding, especially if you sell products or services targeted at a specialized audience.
Do you need help executing a public relations strategy that aligns with your brand? Pressfarm’s team of account managers, writers, and PR specialists can create world-class content and design a strategy to push it out to leading journalists in your field. By helping you create and distribute quality content, the experts at Pressfarm can put your brand on the map. By distributing your press releases, media kits, and guest posts to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can help your brand to rank in relevant search results across different search engines.
If you’d prefer to do your own media outreach, you can use our custom media lists as well as our media database of over 1 million contacts to connect with journalists. Check out our packages and start generating publicity for your brand today.
People create products to solve a problem. So, think about it: what solutions do your clients truly need? What is their native language (i.e., in their everyday vocabulary)? What will strike a chord with them? To create a good product, you would analyze all of the same factors. Now it’s up to you to tell them a story that speaks to them. Regardless of whether your company is working with a PR agency or not, this is where it all starts.
Let’s say you run a startup and you’ve decided to create a PR strategy on your own; that’s a perfectly reasonable decision that many entrepreneurs have made with great success. Let’s look at some steps you can explore if you choose that path.
1) Create your strategy
All too often, people throw themselves into the media’s currents without a paddle. They begin Googling reporters and sending out press releases without pausing to consider the best technique, whether they’re speaking to the proper people or how the stories they’re selling will work together. To begin, you’ll need a well-thought-out strategy that includes many moving parts. Make sure you’ve done all of the following.
Write your headlines down in advance
What do you want to express with all of these stories? Your message is probably something along the lines of “this company is incredible,” but you need to word this in a more convincing way. Do you want to get a variety of headlines from a single announcement? Make a list of all the different headlines you’d like to see. Begin with these headlines and work your way backward to the messaging you’ll need to communicate and with whom you want to share this message. What evidence do you have in your arsenal to back up that claim? What proof points do you need to gather and show to the press to persuade them of your point of view? You’ll be ahead of 90% of your colleagues if you answer these questions correctly.
Cut out all the jargon
To be on the safe side, you should never assume that your audience is familiar with the topic you’re addressing. Rather, assume that these people don’t utilize industry jargon regularly. No language that seems even remotely technical should be used. You should be able to explain your product or service using everyday language. If you can’t explain your product or service in a way that your grandmother would understand, then you should know that you have a big problem. Let’s imagine a reporter eats up all of your jargon; in that case, you’re simply amplifying a confusing message to a broader audience. Always run a 1-2 phrase summary of your firm by friends, family, and strangers to see how they react. Before you send it out, make sure they understand it. If they don’t understand it, then you should take their suggestions for improvements seriously.
Build lasting relationships with journalists
When you obtain coverage for your launch or financing announcement, don’t get lulled into a false feeling of security. You’ll see a spike in traffic, but you can’t count on it lasting without consistent effort on your part. You’ll need to consider a consistent method of generating interest, where trade and non-mainstream publications can help. In order to make the most of your launch, make sure you establish long-term relationships with reporters. Keep in touch with them, read other stories that they publish, and volunteer information when you know they’re working on a story that you can contribute to. When a reporter publishes a story about you, be thankful.
Offer to introduce the reporters you connect with to other industry authorities. Host a dinner or networking-type event for reporters interested in your industry and provide them with access to specialists or data that can assist them. This will increase your prospects of future publicity and allow you to establish friendships with media professionals whom you may ask for press guidance or assistance on a more informal basis in the future.
2) Choose whom to pitch carefully
Create a spreadsheet with the publications and reporters you’d like to contact. Do not send haphazard news releases to every reporter whose email address you can locate. Far too many people do this, and it is a complete waste of time. The better you are at identifying the right reporters (reporters whose interests align with your niche as well as your brand goals), the more likely it is that you will succeed.
Here is how you can do that:
- Identify your intended audience
- Pick smaller publications
- Run a background check reporters
- Research your readers
- Craft and time your angle
3) Create genuine connections with reporters
This is the most challenging part to pull off, and it must come from a real place. Journalists and well-known bloggers often have a lot on their plates, and they get a lot of pitches, most of which are useless to them. Many people have stopped reading them altogether. This is why you must cultivate long-term relationships with journalists. If you’re an early-stage company without a well-known brand, then you need to attend industry events as much as you can. Get to know the journalists you encounter by having a conversation with them. They may not always report what you want if they recognize your name on an email, but they’re more likely to open your emails if they’ve met you in person. And that is half the battle.
Here are a few tips on developing valuable relationships:
Open with a warm introduction
Who do you know with whom reporters have a genuine and professional interest in keeping in touch?” Whom can they rely on? At least a handful of your investors and board members, most likely. Have those individuals introduce you.
Keep up with reporters regularly
Once you have established these relationships with media professionals, you must work hard to maintain them. Inquire about their hobbies and interests both on and off the job. Share their stories on social media and leave thoughtful comments. It’s easy enough to say, “Hey, good work on the piece today — you nailed XYZ…” Don’t go overboard, but you’ll want to keep in touch with these people regularly. It takes multiple repetitions in advertising and sales to convince someone to buy something, and the same can be said when you want a reporter to write about you. Don’t kiss up or have inauthentic exchanges because much of what we do is based on trust. It has to come from the bottom of your heart.
Don’t get frustrated and bitter
Patience and perseverance are vital components of effective communication. You will not succeed or achieve your objectives if you do not give it time. Startups have difficulty getting press, especially in the beginning. If it doesn’t work out immediately, take heart because it rarely does. Sometimes you just have to go back to the drawing board to nail your message, identify the proper reporters, and keep trying. Don’t expect to achieve media coverage just because you put in the effort, and don’t be discouraged by rejection. Even if they haven’t picked up your articles in the past, remaining helpful and polite to reporters will benefit you in the long term.
Create an excellent pitch
Pitching in a way that cuts through the noise that reporters are surrounded by is an art. It should be noted that most of what they receive is irrelevant and uninteresting. You’ll get a considerable advantage if you take the time to be more strategic. Here are some valid pointers on how to make a great pitch:
a) Differentiate your story
Reporters will not write stories that have already been published. Never pitch something that has previously been covered by someone else. Don’t use the same old angle that’s been around for a long time. Reporters are under pressure to develop something unique that stands out from the crowd. Tell them why yours is a standout story.
b) Time your approach strategically
There are a few unspoken guidelines when you’re looking for the best timing for your pitch. Never make a pitch to a journalist over the phone. Most journalists will get irritated if you do this. Do not send too many follow-up emails inquiring if they received your original email – 2 follow-ups is enough. After that, it’s safe to assume that the journalist isn’t interested in that particular pitch. Always reach out earlier in the week, preferably on Tuesday. Mondays are too hectic, and by Wednesday, reporters already have a mile-long list of things they want to get done. Send emails before 8 a.m. so that you allow a journalist time to present the concept to an editorial meeting in the morning. Never send a pitch on a Friday afternoon.
c) Prioritize founder outreach
Depending on the stage of your business, the founder may be the best person to send the initial pitch to. Reporters are more responsive to founders. They want to know they’ll have that kind of access, and having a good relationship with the founder is often in their best interests.
Having an effective PR strategy is essential for a company’s overall marketing strategy. It takes time, effort, and skill to master the skills needed to make sure that you can get the appropriate media coverage. However, with the right tools and tips, there is no telling the amount of success your brand can get with proper PR.