Startup PR 2021. The world of startups is highly competitive on all levels. Not only should you always pitch your exclusivity to investors but also stir up interest in media. Once you are in, fighting for publicity becomes a fierce competition.
The “first contact” with media will largely determine the way your product will be covered by media outlets in the future.
If you claim your product is a breakthrough, the interest goes up. On the other hand, you are putting high stakes on the image of your startup in the public eye. In case your statements do not meet the reality, be prepared for a huge kick in your media reputation. Journalists would not miss a chance to criticize for statements that ended up inconsistent with reality. They will likely criticize even the tiniest bugs, errors, and failures.
From here we may conclude the following:
Launching a successful PR campaign requires a lot of backstage work, from examining your target audience to building an effective team, and finding your first investors.
If you are still at the early stage of your startup development, skip this article and devote your time to startup growth. Keep working and soon, you’ll be ready to share your best results, and generate interesting newsbreak for top media outlets.
My startup is released…am I ready for a PR?
To prepare your project for a successful PR campaign, make sure:
- You can define your target audience.
- Your product provides a solution to a certain issue.
- You have a complete understanding of how the product works.
- You can define the benefits & weaknesses of your major competitors.
- You define your market volume.
- You have a plan for scaling up (locally, across the country, or on the international level).
Successful PR for Startup in Media
The first “touch” with media is scary. Not only do you introduce your startup to a wide circle of readers but also acquire a reputation in the world of media. Whether you hire a PR specialist or do it yourself, the task will be to find and engage the right people while telling your story through the most effective media channels.
It’s worth noting that paying for publications is a common practice. Yet, you can always find free opportunities that can work as effectively as the resources you paid for.
Below I am describing 4 major steps that stand behind a successful media PR for startup, whether the placement is free or paid.
Step 1: Target Audience
As a startup founder, you should already have an idea of your target audience. Who are those people and what do you want to tell them?
In the media prospect, your target audience is not only end-users but also investors, business partners, media representatives, officials, and even future employees.
For each group of your target audience, you need to:
- select the most efficient promo channel (or channels) for each audience group.
- decide on the main message that you will broadcast through a particular channel to a particular audience group.
Promo channels are media outlets that help you reach the target audience. For effective media PR, you must know the audience’s interests and preferences. What do they read and what websites do they visit? Do they watch TV or prefer reading news through social media platforms? Be prepared to answer dozens of questions like that.
Step 2: Strategy Development
Here’s what you need to know about PR strategy for startups. Based on your data about the target audience and startup principles, you write down an approximate PR plan. A startup PR plan will include a list of promo activities (presentations & other events) and a list of media resources that may potentially publish your news.
Now, you may ask yourself: “How exactly do I reach out to the wished media outlets?”
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Let’s enter the world of media together!
The main message of your post should depend on the audience group that will read about you in the particular media outlet. This means each message will have a different emphasis on things that matter most to a particular audience.
For example, publishers from the official city media would like to write about the startup benefits in regards to the city. When it comes to resources specializing in investment news, you better focus on the startup’s profitability and prospects. And for the tech news resources, it’s important to present a startup from the side of its tech innovation.
Try to convey the main message the way it sounds understandable to everyone despite their knowledge and interests.
Step 3: News Generation
Many startups inundate reporters with a startup’s story of success. It remains unchanged from one media outlet to another and will likely stay the same in future releases. While founders crave to share information on their startup path, journalists crave to share the news.
How to turn your story into the “news”? In short, every news has an expiration date. Media shares news immediately, or else, it’s no longer relevant. Journalists hunt for news because they always grab more attention than other kinds of posts.
4 Ideas for Generating Startup News
- Startup release/ improvement/rebranding. The fact that you’ve just released your project is potentially interesting as news. It has a date, place, action, and circumstance. Another occasion to generate news about your startup is when you are changing (major updates or rebranding). Use them to include background information about your startup, while keeping the main focus on the news.
- Progress pace. Do you have any progress to share so far? Perhaps, you already reached one million visitors per day or gathered $100 thousand of revenue after 1 month of release. The media loves figures, especially if numbers are significantly higher than the starting mark. For a “wow” effect, I advise you to wait until you receive at least 25% of what was planned in the big run.
- Product recognition & collaboration with serious players. Your startup may and should gain recognition from other companies. To support progressive startup innovations, some companies test those developments in their business. Some of them may offer a partnership or other types of collaborations. The more well-known brands you can mention in the news – the more likely it will go viral.
- Big investments. People speak about money more than anything. If your project receives big funding from investors, do not miss highlight this news across media. This is just another chance to raise your reputation among readers and publishers.
Step 4: Consistency
A common PR approach states the number of mentions in the press is a critical indicator. It comes down to publishing a larger number of press releases with the same content.
Does it really work? Hardly…
When it comes to PR strategy for a newly-released project, generating newsfeed and contacting media outlets is a consistent process. As stated earlier, startups can generate news from various occasions, whether it’s a financial achievement or a signed contract with a big brand.
It’s important to remind everyone working in the startup of your milestones and decide if it’s worth being shared in the news. Having a few announcements in reserve will get you covered within the next few months in case some media outlet asks you to make an urgent announcement.
6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before News Release:
Before spreading any kind of news across media outlets, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you think this news is worth sharing at the current time?
- Why is this news worth reading? How does it concern readers personally?
- What’s so cool and unusual about this newsbreak?
- How important is it for the market (at the local or even international level)?
- Were there any comments from famous opinion-makers?
- Should you expect any vital consequences after the new release?
Make sure you can cover all six questions from this list. Most likely, journalists will be looking for these answers while reading your news. Failing to answer at least one of these questions will reduce the chance to get the news approved.
How Startups Can Be Interesting To Media
Here is a great way to surprise journalists with your story. Knowing answers to the next 6 driver questions will help your story sound intriguing to both media and article readers:
- What famous startups do you resemble?
Are you something like Uber or more like Amazon? What is the actual resemblance? By comparing yourself to big brands that everybody knows, your project is likely to get into people’s minds more easily. Also, comparing your startup to the world’s major players makes it easier to describe the specifics of your project.
- Who are you disrupting?
Don’t be afraid to mention projects that are your direct competitors on the market. Who are you threatening to oust and how exactly?
- Are there any well-known (or exceptional people) standing behind your project?
Are you well-known for something besides your startup? Or maybe, you have a famous investor that cheers up for your project? Even if there’s no huge story behind anyone involved in your startup, be creative and find something from your background to bring it up! Humans will likely remember facts about humans.
- Can your startup associate with a big number?
Journalists know that “big numbers” catch attraction. They would love to write about startups that “can save a billion lives” or “received a total of $2 million investments”. Of course, not every startup can boast of big numbers from the very beginning of its path, but if you feel like you can, go ahead and bring it upfront.
- What is so special about your target audience?
Can you call your target audience distinctive? If yes, try to address this fact while generating news to media channels. People will likely read about unusual and unique facts, so your reference to a specific group of the audience should sound intriguing. Also, mention how exactly this audience group may benefit from your startup. Journalists will likely highlight those benefits that have to do with “hot” social issues (pandemic, LGBTQ rights, racism, etc).
- What is so special about your product?
Startups enter the market as quickly, as they disappear. If you are craving to stay in the niche, make sure you differentiate from competitors. We know a lot of examples when startups suggested a new approach to a regular product/service, and then they turned into world-known companies. For example, Uber outclassed all taxi services with a convenient ordering system operated through the Internet. The startup’s idea became an inspiration to hundreds of other online taxi apps, yet none of them could ever repeat the success of Uber.
Startup PR: Common Mistakes
A huge misconception is when founders rely on PR as a way to solve all of their issues. As stated earlier, raising awareness about a project with potential bugs and poor quality will only cause a wave of negativity.
Another common mistake is when founders try to overestimate achievements or, even worse, emphasize their weaknesses. Both self-praise or belittling yourself is likely to push away clients and investors.
To avoid overestimation, make sure that each publication mentions a few perks of your startup, not all of them. If this channel reaches out to a certain type of target audience, think about which perks of your startup may raise their interest, and keep your main focus on them.
Oftentimes, founders lose sight of the main goal during their active collaboration with the media. Instead of reaching their target audience and gaining credibility from top outlets, they publish more content for the sake of publication.
The truth is, you don’t need thousands of mentions for a successful PR campaign. What really matters is the credibility of the media source and attempts to reach out to the right audience with the right content.
The last but not the least dilemma for startups is whether to hire a PR agency or make it through by yourself. At some point, hiring a PR specialist will be financially harmful to the project, especially if it’s super tight on budget. Unfortunately, many young projects decide to pay for the PR service but then, have no money for more significant startup investments.
My advice is, prioritize product improvement over PR or other expenses in case your budget is tight. At the end of the day, a good product promotes itself.
VERY Important Final Words…
PR is a very small part of what a good startup needs to take care of. DO NOT treat PR as a magic wand. It will not turn your small startup project into a successful company with millions of users and tons of investment proposals.
The fact is, Public Relations works for the future. Persistence and patience will get you to the long-awaited result.
But first, follow our guideline tips 🙂