Your plan is to create a startup, and you have developed something that you believe represents you and your brand. Now, all you need to do is figure out ways to emerge yourself into your target market. For this reason, people try to implement public relations to increase their brand awareness. The good thing about startups is that they all begin with a clean slate and to generate PR they would focus on startup specific objectives like;
- Educating the public about their product/service
- Raising funds to build and develop their business
- Generating tests of products/services
- Acquiring customers
- Attracting influencers
- Figuring out the competition
One important part of PR is media outreach to pitch information about products and services to media outlets. So, this guide will hopefully provide some insight on the concept of PR for startups and how media outreach can help develop an image for your brand.
What is media outreach and PR and why your startup needs it
Public relations is a way of establishing and maintaining a company’s reputation in front of a target market. It is also a way to create a deliberate effort to establish an understanding and create a relationship with its audiences. One tactic that is very important in PR is media outreach, which is the process of pitching your news and content to journalists and bloggers. This begins with identifying the right type of media outlets for your startup and ones who will write about your niche and are interested in helping you create your voice.
The Purpose of PR
As mentioned before, the goal of a PR strategy is to help achieve the perfect public relations. Everything depends on the individual goals of each business and the aims the businesses are trying to achieve are generally quite similar regardless of the size of the business.
The aims of a business can include:
- Credibility – It is very important for any business, especially if you are first starting out. This is really important if you want to win new clients, increase sales and attract talent. Public relations has a way of getting the narrative across in front of your target market and building a digital footprint.
- Awareness – Once your business is considered credible, you need to start building awareness to continue getting traffic. You need to showcase your product and media is very important for that.
- Social proof – You need to show to the people that are relatively interested in your business why you should be taken seriously. It means that you know how to use social media to accelerate your business and using earned media is a great way to communicate this message.
What is media coverage?
Before you can start applying media coverage tips to your business, you need to know what it is. However many ways you look at it, media coverage basically means publicity and in the world of PR, it can also be called “earned media”
Your goal is to win earned media, which is a way of building your company’s reputation by using press coverage through third-party media publications. You will also be applying owned media, which would be any content that you are publishing on your own channels.
Earned media vs. Owned Media vs. Paid Media
There are many media and marketing tactics that can grow your company and they may all seem confusing together, but let me break them down for you.
Earned media can include: Social media shares, viral content, customer success stories, recommendations, guest articles, product review pages, and media mentions. This is media that you have basically “earned” from the things that you are posting and feedback from your target audience.
What are the benefits of earned media?
- Builds awareness: it allows you to reach more of your targeted audience. It opens you up to new customers across different media outlets. It gets more eyes on your product/service.
- Heightens your credibility: Producing great articles for publication can demonstrate your industry knowledge and build credibility in your field. It shows that you are informed about the market that you are trying to break through.
- Boosts you SEO, Increases your leads and sales, and ultimately increases trust.
Owned media can include: Blogs, websites, mobile apps, whitepapers, case studies, social media accounts, and media kits. This type of media is what you create on your own, things that you have put up that are trying to reach an audience.
Paid media can include: PPC ads, sponsored content, display/banner ads, and retargeting. It is basically advertising that is directly paid for. This would include using social media influencers to promote your product/service. It can be very effective in driving traffic to your business, but you would need to gain and receive sufficient trust within your target market, which is where the influencers come in.
Steps to get media coverage for your PR startup
- Build your narrative using owned media
- Identify the most relevant journalists
- Step up media monitoring
- Tactics for winning press coverage
- Goal setting
- Start building relationships with the press
- Pitching to media outlets
STEP 1: Build your narrative using owned media
You need to make sure that your internal message, branding, and in-house content is in great condition so that when you pitch to media outlets, it seems like you know exactly what you’re doing. If the things that you are writing and posting are lacking in details and look like they have been done by an amateur, people are less likely to even care about giving you media coverage.
Make sure that you convey who you are, what you do, and what your values are.
STEP 2: Create a contact list of relevant journalists and contact details
Find reporters whose main topics that they write about include what your product/app/service does. You should already have an idea of the space you are in so you don’t spend so much time trying to figure that out. Create a detailed media list that will cover all different types of media outlets and blogs and categorize them properly.
Once you have a list of relevant media outlets, you need to include their contact information into your spreadsheet so that it is easier for you to jot down whatever is happening with your contacts. Use your detailed list to write the perfect email pitch.
How to Build a Media List
The whole point of a media list is to have a detailed document of media outlets including journalists, bloggers, writers, editors and influencers that are perfectly matched to your niche and topics that you are writing about. It normally includes the name of the individuals and their contact information.
The opinion of a media list is very hit or miss because it can be construed as a waste of time and a way to spam every media outlet to get responses from anyone. There are two halves of developing contacts which includes building an effective media list and being able to start conversations and build relationships with media contacts.
Making the Perfect Media List
Step 1: Find your audience
It is important to figure out every aspect of your audience; what they read, what they listen to, what they watch, the type of things they follow on social media, etc. With this information, you will get a better understanding of the type of media outlets to target. From there, you can ensure coverage by sending your press release email to the appropriate audience.
To keep everything compile all this information, create a spreadsheet of all ideas and titles that relate to your industry. Once you have compiled everything, you can search keywords of your ideas on search engines for the relevant newspapers, magazines, etc that cover the same or similar topics that you have put in your spreadsheet.
Step 2: Research relevant journalists
The next step is to click on the articles that are on the first few pages of your search because those will be the most relevant to your topic. When you are going through the articles, make sure to double-check if there is an actual person who you can contact because sometimes, blogs do not share authors’ names for articles written.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find the author’s name right away, just keep doing some research on the platform and you might be able to find another contributor who you can contact. It is important that you not only try to get coverage by top-tier publications, but try and establish credibility with smaller media outlets to build up your portfolio.
Step 3: Make your list of target journalists
While you are reading each article from your search results, you should go through some questions before you add them to your Media List.
- Is the post written by a real person you can connect with?
- What the author is still writing for this publication?
- Is the blog/publication part of your target demographic?
If they answer all these questions, add them to your media list and go from there.
How do you use a media list to get press?
You may have a large list of relevant names and contact details, but you still need to make sure that when you pitch, you still keep it personal. You need to remember that just because you are using your efforts to connect with them and chat with them. It does not mean that they know you.
You need to connect on a personal level and have communicated prior before sending them a press release or story pitch. Make sure that they are aware of you and your business, already interested in your story and relatively excited about posting and sharing your story with their readers.
In order to build a relationship with any type of media outlet, it is simple enough to start a conversation. It is important to start a conversation with the relevant people that already exist on your media list weeks before the actual launch date of your product or service. Continue having the conversation until you have built a solid relationship so that when you need media coverage, you can approach them with a pre-existing relationship and not as a complete stranger and there is no need to send a cold email pitch. It can take so time to build a good relationship, but once it is done, the payoff is definitely worth.
How do you start a conversation?
Sometimes it might be hard to figure out how to start a professional conversation. So, in order to get some pointers, closely read the articles that are a part of your research. It may seem a bit harsh, but try and find mistakes, weak points or anything missing from an article or blog posts that could be used to start a conversation.
Some things to look for:
- Grammar errors
- Outdated facts
- Information that can be added
- Possible articles that need follow up stories
It is also important to understand that when it comes to influencers, you should try many different types. Don’t limit yourself to journalists or bloggers. You can even try to get coverage from investors, social media influencers, and even founders of other companies. To find the appropriate ones, you need to define the goal of your product or service and then define your target audience. Once you figure out all those things, you are all set.
Creating a media list is easy; it is the follow-through that can be complicated. You need to make a solid first impression so that you can get continuous coverage. The more effort you put into creating a media list and sparking a solid conversation will have a great payoff.
STEP 4: Identify the most relevant journalists
The media coverage that you are trying to get needs to be relevant to your business. This is why it is important that you research where and how you want to win your earned media.
- Make a list of all the publications that you read and that you are aware is related to your industry.
- Use tools to find publications that your competition has put up and have gained media coverage in
- Select a few keywords that are related to your business or industry
STEP 5: Write the perfect email pitch and track them
It is important to write the perfect email to the media outlets that you are interested in. You need to think of the angle that you want use to present your company and the context that you want to put your company or brand in.
Media outlets don’t just write about your company and its function, that would be considered an ad. They would normally use the description of your product/service and create a story about what your company can do for society and your audience. So, when you make your pitch make sure that you give details but also keep it short and concise.
Important thing: try and build a relationship.
It is very useful to track your email pitches so that you are aware of the response that you are getting whether it is good news or bad.
Here is how you write a press release email once you have your list of media outlets:
Your press release is done. You have got your list of appropriate media contacts. Now, all you have to do is send out the emails. While sending out an email may seem easy, there are quite a few steps to get it just right so that you get the right media support.
6 steps to a press release email
1) Subject Line
This is the most important part of your press release email because more than likely an email will be opened if there is an interesting, eye-catching topic. If you create the right hook, you have a very good shot of getting great media coverage. If you mess it up, it is likely that your email will go straight to their trash and never be looked at.
Try and create a subject line that is different from your press release headline. While it makes sense to use your press release headline as your email subject, it may not seem interesting enough to open for the reader. You need to create a compelling subject line that is concise and gives a better clue about what the press release is about. Depending on the type of media support you are looking for, try and also make it relevant to them.
They have already opened your email, now you need to keep them engaged. The greeting is an often overlooked but important part of email marketing. It sets the tone for the rest of the document.
Try not to be overly familiar, especially if it is someone that you have not interacted with before, but a nice touch would be to include the recipient’s name. It will keep them interested in reading your email because it shows that you have written this email specifically for them and it isn’t just a copy-paste job that you have sent to multiple journalists.
There are two scenarios that an introduction can create: It can make the journalist regret giving you any attention or it can make them more interested in who you are and your business. I am pretty sure that you want the second scenario. The only way that can happen is if you prove that you can stand out in your industry. You need to prove to them why they should give you the time of day because they get pitches all the time and it is likely that there are other people trying to send the same pitch.
The best way to get a journalist’s attention is by making a connection with them by referencing something they have done recently, complimenting them about their work, show your appreciation for things they have done, etc.
4) Email Body
You have managed to keep their attention, which is a really good thing.
At this stage, the rest of your email should be about your press release so you want to keep all other text to a minimum. Your goal is to make the connection of your press release with what you mentioned in your introduction.
You want to keep your closing short and sweet, but also professional.
It is important to remember to share your contact details so that they can connect with you if they need other information. That is possibly the most important thing because if you don’t provide them with your details, they may not proceed with your press release.
6) Paste Your Press Release
Once you are done with your text, you can paste your press release document directly on the email document you are able to send out. It is better if there are no attachments, but more on this later.
Now it is just a waiting game.
You have sent out the email and now you need to wait for their response. You do not want to appear too needy, but if they haven’t responded after a few days, send them a follow-up email.
If there is still no response from them whether good news or bad, then they have most likely passed on your press release and you can move on. Avoid sending more than two follow-ups because it will not look professional and might annoy all the media influencers you’ve pitched to.
5 Tips for Press Release Email Success
1) No Attachments
You want to make the journalist’s life as easy as possible, which means that they don’t want to open another link to get the information they are expected to read. Downloading a document can be risky for anyone and no one wants to accidentally download a virus to get a story.
2) Press release distribution
In order to achieve a lot of publicity, it might be better to use press release distribution services like Pressfarm to get your release published on many media networks related to your niche and geographical location.
In addition to press release distribution, Pressfarm can help you create a professional press release, engaging guest posts and an eye-catching media kit. With this content, you can build a memorable brand image and capture attention for your brand.
In addition to helping you to create quality content, Pressfarm can help you distribute it widely. By submitting your content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can boost your online visibility and ensure you rank in relevant search results.
As a client, you also get access to a comprehensive media database of over 1 million journalists across different industries. With this database, you can connect with the best journalists in your niche for up to a year. Sign up with Pressfarm and get a custom PR campaign that can propel your brand forward.
Keep it simple… well, you know the rest. Don’t ramble and keep everything brief. Just let them know why you’re emailing them, how it can benefit them, and where to contact you if they need more information.
Make sure that your grammar and spelling have no errors. Grammatical mistakes will show that you don’t really care about your press release and you’re not bothered. Make sure you double- and triple-check all your content before you send it out. One wrong move could lead to a rejection.
5) Keep the Relationship Going
Once your press release has been accepted, try and keep the relationship going. Try and work with each other in certain situations so you can be a helpful source to each other. They can be your person for regular press coverage.
STEP 5: Setup media monitoring
This is relatively related to the last step, it is important once you have posted or been posted that you listen to what your target audience is saying about your brand, your competitors and anything that is related to your business.
STEP 6: PR Tactics for winning press coverage:
- Guest articles
- Press releases
- Podcast appearances
STEP 7: Goal setting
It is important that you set reasonable goals for yourself. Basically state things that you know you can achieve, because if you aim too high. You are not able to achieve them, it would seem that you are unreliable to your audience.
STEP 8: Start building relationships with the press
Make friends with the press, you need them on your team if you want to emerge into the market. You can start building relationships through social media and connecting with them locally. You can also use media databases like the one Pressfarm has to find the relevant journalists and media outlets for you.
STEP 9: Pitching to media outlets
Once you have developed a relationship with them, you can start pitching to them. However, do not do it in a way that seems pushy. Find a way to connect with them on their level first and then go from there. At the end of the day, they are getting so many messages daily about people that want media coverage. So find a way to stand out and they are more likely to read through your pitch.
Provide a good hook by:
- Providing a fresh perspective
- Offering new insight
- Challenging the norm
- Breaking new ground
Media coverage is a very important part of PR, so figure out a way to be personal and different from the competition. Make sure that what you are doing is relevant to them, don’t waste your time pitching to an outlet that doesn’t accept guest posts, don’t pitch to more than one person at the same publication at the same time, and when you are trying to follow-up, don’t seem too needy or pushy.
Step 10: Prepare your site for media coverage
Once you are gotten the thumbs up from the media outlets, you need to prepare your sites and social media for the amount of traffic that you might achieve. If you have hired an outside company to handle your social media and site, you need to give them a rough idea of what needs to be done and what is going to happen.
When one media outlet takes you on, it gives you quite a bit of presence for others to find you and help you as well, so make sure that you can everything ready to go when people contact you.
Examples of PR success stories
“A good PR story is more effective than a front-page ad”- Richard Branson
The chicken sandwich wars:
Seems a bit ridiculous right? But, that is the power of PR these days. For some time, the chicken sandwich war between Chick-fil-A and Popeyes invaded our scenes and caused a buzz around the internet. Celebrities, companies, influencers, media outlets and regular consumers were all a part of it and both companies capitalized on the buzz and according to Hollywood Agency, this “war” was a prime example of the rapid response that great PR can achieve. Other companies have also employed this type of PR through media.
Carlsberg: not the best beer campaign:
In the world of the internet and trolls not being the things that scare us in our sleep and live under bridges, the way that Carlsberg embraced its PR and internet trolls is to create the “not the best beer” campaign showing people that rather than taking offense to consumers saying that their beer wasn’t great, they would just take it in stride and completely change the recipe and because they were making a joke with themselves, people were intrigued about how their recipe had changed and it is still being sold all over the world now.
The cost of PR for startups
At the end of the day, media outreach is something that is very important when trying to do PR for your company whether you are a startup or an established company. You might not implement exactly all of these tactics. Even so, having an idea of how other companies have used them will help you in the future.
You want them to like you. You want them to be interested in what you are trying to get media coverage for, you want to be different.