While most entrepreneurs know the importance of marketing their startup, PR is often an afterthought — if at all. Done correctly, however, and PR can be a valuable tool for startup success. Short for public relations, PR is the practice concerned with maintaining an organisation’s reputation. It uses the media (including newspapers, magazines, broadcast, blogs, and social media) to encourage your target audience to form a positive opinion of your organisation.
A strong portfolio of media coverage is a great validator for a growing brand and can be valuable collateral for sales activity, building customer trust, and attracting investors.
A startup PR strategy should use a two-pronged approach: leveraging news — both your own announcements and news-jacking — and promoting your expertise thought leadership campaigns. News announcements are the more ‘traditional’ form of PR. For a startup, this is usually funding announcements or new products. However, these developments can be few and far between. Thought leadership PR allows you keep momentum when you don’t have any ‘news’ to report, or comment on.
How to do a media announcement
Firstly, consider whether your announcement is ‘news-worthy’. Is it significant to other people?
Significance varies widely across publications. For example, a business publication may be interested in your startup’s rapid growth, but local news may care more about the impact on the local economy.
Have a clear idea of your target audience, as this will impact messaging. A successful PR campaign is one which places your startup in the publications most trusted by your target audience — that is, the people who will buy your product or service.
When it comes to writing your press release, keep it simple. You want to convey the key points to the reader within seconds. Include all key details early on: who, when, what, where, why, and how. Place quotes and more niche details later on, just in case readers don’t make it to the end.
You can also use a news announcement to start a conversation with a target publication. With PR, it’s important you’re realistic about what a publication will (and won’t) cover. However, using your news to help journalists understand how you fit into a market or how you relate to wider trending themes could give you lots of opportunities outside the story itself.
Thought leadership for startups
The goal of thought leadership is to showcase your business and the team profiles as influential and insightful.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by commenting on trending news stories, otherwise known as ‘newsjacking’. Journalists often publish follow-up stories on national news regarding the effects a story may have on a sector or the economy. If a news story breaks that is particularly relevant to your sector, you can respond by sending a statement or quote to the journalist or news desk.
Probably the most effective thought leadership approach is creating bylined content. Many publications will accept well-written thought leadership content from businesses, especially B2B, trade, and specialist publications.
You will, however, have to provide the content yourself. This can be time intensive and requires excellent writing skills. Journalists have high standards: bylined content must be well-written, well sourced and not self promotional.
Final tips for the road
Relevant and media-friendly case studies can help with all PR approaches. The ability to demonstrate a real-life example of your business in action will help you gain more, and better coverage.
However, case studies must be exclusive. Once a case study has featured in national media, consider it spent. The same goes for bylined thought leadership content: you will need to create a fresh article for each publication.
Once you secure media coverage, you mustmake it work for you. You get the best value out of PR when you incorporate it in a wider marketing and communications strategy. Make sure you’re spreading the good news across all social media channels and ensure it’s uploaded to your site or blog. You’d be amazed how many businesses don’t do this, but you’d be amazed how much of a boost this can give to your site traffic. Using media coverage as a carrot to get people interested in what you do and to visit your site is a large part of the value.
Publications don’t always include links to your site but this doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to attract site traffic and new connections. Bring your marketing, social media and sales team into the loop when your new PR goes live, so the entire company can benefit from it.
By Kirsty Jarvis, Founder & CEO at Luminous PR
Luminous PR is a specialist technology PR agency, based in London and Norwich. We help our clients gain high-profile media coverage to meet their business goals, including print, digital, broadcast, and social media. Our holistic approach to comms also includes social media, digital marketing, and content creation.