Ten top tips for kickstarting PR activity for your startup
As a startup, you’ve got loads of goals, problems and opportunities to think about, but make sure you carve out some time for some PR activity that will help raise your profile and grow your business.
Understand whether PR is right for you
PR is a strategic communications process which builds mutually beneficial relationships between your company and brand and your audiences. The best PR is carefully planned with time to formulate ideas, finesse messaging, create materials and ensure the right people are being targeted. It can work short term, generate coverage and deliver results – we know clients that have benefitted from enormous uplift in sales from one brilliant piece of coverage – but, be realistic, it’s a competitive world out there and you need to appreciate that it takes time to build your profile and reputation.
Define what you want to get out of any PR activity
Think of your business objectives and plan PR activity to help you achieve these. For example, for the business objective of reaching a sales target, you might need more people to know about your brand. The PR objective would therefore be to generate more awareness. Other startup objectives might be to successfully launch a new product or service, to attract the right talent to your business or to secure financial investment to help you grow.
Capture your story
It’s a great piece of content that you can use for many years to come so capture it whilst it’s fresh and make sure you know it! You’d be surprised how often stories change or you hear different versions of events from different employees.You have probably spent months fine-tuning your product or service and creating business plans, but your most powerful tool is why you did it in the first place. What prompted you to launch your business, what problem were you trying to solve? How does your product or service aim to enhance people’s lives? Re-connecting with that emotion can help with many a PR angle and story.
Learn from others
Take a look at other startups, their media coverage, their websites and content, what messages do you think they are sharing? Is there something that you can learn from their experiences? Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to copy, quite apart from anything, the more similar you look to others makes it more difficult to stand out.
Back to basics
Start by taking a long hard look at your website and social channels
and other collateral. Do they reflect your mission, vision and values, are they up-to-date, relevant to the market and with great content? Get rid of typos or out-of-date information. Give everything a spring clean, it’s your job to put your best face forward.
Understand your targets
Think about who you need to reach with your messaging and content and, then find the media that reaches them. Do you know what they are reading/watching/listening to? Try to avoid basing this on your personal likes or dislikes as you’ll introduce bias to your targeting. Make sure you get to know these media outlets before you start pitching. You’ll need to target the right journalist with the right kind of story otherwise your investment will be wasted.
Make a start
Being ‘a best kept secret’ is never a good plan for a startup. So, pull together your media collateral, make it relevant, make sure it’s newsworthy. When crafting your news release, think Topical, Relevant, Unusual, Trouble, Human interest. Think of your end audience, how do you want them to react or what action do you want them to take when they see/hear/read about you?
A lot of founders, for reasons of budget, want to do the PR themselves and that can work well. Be prepared though to invest your time (and question whether this is therefore a good financial investment) and consider all the different types of activity you might need to do – there’s creating content (for releases, for your social media), distributing it to the right journalists and following up with them, or posting on different social platforms. Alternatively you can use an agency who has the know-how and media contacts.
Measure and analyse what works
PR is much more measurable than you may think, with so much media visible online you will be able to track click throughs from online coverage to your site. And when it comes to social media, you can track analytics including engagement, follows, reach. After your first foray into PR, you will be better armed with information that will help you make even more impact with your next story.
Once your startup is launched, think of follow-on stories. Whether you are a food brand following consumer habits or a tech brand with the latest innovation, remain relevant, jump on the news agenda and react to ensure you stay part of the conversation. As we said at the beginning, PR is a long-term process, helping you build and manage your reputation. So, keep at it, don’t let your profile drop.