Getting high-quality press covered is an essential ingredient for any startup. However, as most startups are designed to function lean with minimal outgoings, a monthly retainer for a slick well-oiled PR company with industry connections is usually beyond the scope of what is an essential outgoing.
Why Your Start-Up Needs PR
Building a brand has never been so important. The quicker you build a strong and trusted brand, the quicker you can succeed and grow. Customers trust a brand as search engines tend to position brands higher in the search results, to compete, you really need a solid well-respected brand behind you.
So how does a new startup with minimal funds and brand power get noticed in the mainstream media? Luckily, there is no magic secret to getting noticed by the mainstream press, it just takes hard work, the right strategy, and a little bit of imagination.
Your Company Pitch
Your pitch is one of the most important aspects, and will often make or break your PR campaign. You may have heard of the elevator pitch, where your pitch needs to be concise and to the point that if you find yourself in an elevator with a potential client or investor, you can get them instead even if you only have a few floors to travel.
Your pitch needs to come from your overall culture, mission statement and the benefits to the user.
This is not an area to rush over.
If you work in a highly technical industry, you need to be able to clearly explain what you do in layman’s terms so the general public can understand. Your product or service may be very clearer but if the right people don’t understand it, it won’t get noticed. Personally, I picture my mother when trying to explain a pitch. Would she understand what I am trying to say? If not, it needs to be simplified.
Not only does the pitch need to be simple and understandable, it needs to entice the user to learn more. A pitch needs to be a subtle blend of simplicity and interest.
Unless you are in a unique position, the person who you are pitching to will have heard endless pitches so you need to make yours stand out. Focus on the benefits to the user. What makes you special? What makes you unique?
What To Pitch
Once you have mastered the art of pitching your company, you need to expand your pitches to include any notable events, such as product launches, strategic partnerships and research.
Take the same formula and apply it to notable events. More than often your news might not seem to be groundbreaking. A great tacit to use is data-driven research.
Buffer did a great job of this when they launched. The whole PR campaign revolved around data-driven research and studies into their chosen sector (social media). This serves two purposes, firstly, a really in-depth detailed study is interesting to both journalists and the end reader, secondarily, it helps to cement your company as a reckoned authority figure in your industry – thereby helping to create a brand.
Connecting With Journalists
Create a master database of industry news sites and who is writing about your industry, this is vital. I use import.io to really scrape the latest content titles, authors, and dates from the major sites in my industries.
Try to capture as much information as possible, including email address and links to social profiles.
This database needs constant attention. The effort that you put into it can result in invaluable information.
Email continues to be one of the most powerful tools for marketers. When emailing your pitch to your list of journalists, remember to always craft your email to the individual. Do your research by performing an analysis of their previous articles, social profiles, blogs etc.
Treat them like a person and don’t be tempted to blast through your list with auto-generated mass blasts. Our response rate will be minimal.
As with any email campaign, subject lines are hugely important, choose something that perks the reader’s interest.
The other powerful pitching tool is Twitter. As soon as I have created my journalists list, I straight away follow them all on Twitter and create a special list for them all to keep it organised. Try to engage them without pitching anything, then when you go for your pitch, there is already a relationship in place.
There are a few other useful avenues to explore, they can be slightly hit and miss and at times overwhelming but they are worth signing up to as the time spent can yield fruitful relationships.
Other free useful tools are:
- HARO – HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a hugely popular site that emails your regular lists full of requests from journalists. It can be a little hit and you have to act fast.
- Source Bottle -A OK service, not as good as HARO but also not as overpopulated.
- Press Quest – Aimed at the UK market.
- #JournoRequest – Twitter hashtag used by journalists
- #PRrequest – Twitter hashtag used by journalists
It is important to note that in every single interaction you are aiming to create long-term relationships. Getting one press mention is great but being on speaking terms with a journalist in your niche can be invaluable.