What are smart and low-cost PR strategies for a startup?
For startups wanting PR but with a limited budget to start the business, what are some ways you can get free or low-budget coverage?
A great answer from Beau. The only thing I'd add is many of our clients are looking for PR coverage without having anything remarkable to say. The first order of importance is to have something truly interesting for your audience to engage with.
I think PR is the most cost effective tool in the marketing toolkit so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths. I am a big fan of Content Marketing and Thought Leadership which are great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community.
Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts. Don’t let social media drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through.
Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first. Start small and build as you go. For me I started speaking at local events and then submitted proposals to speak at industry conferences and trade shows nationally and eventually global events too. Same advice goes for writing start with small publications then move up the food chain to reach bigger audiences. People need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found too. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with know people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy.
You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For many professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters the most.
A tough question as PR relies so much on the relationship between the publicist and media outlet, which is what you pay for - access to leverage that relationship to tell your story.
However, PR is an excellent way to promote a business, so the payoff can be worth it. While replacing a dedicated professional can be tough, there are a number of new services out there which cater to the smaller end of the market.
One of the newer ones is Story Match, an app which connects your brand with relevant members of the media.
Just remember, before you start putting resources into driving media attention, make sure your own assets, such as your website, are optimised to convert so that when those eyeballs find you, you're doing everything possible to turn them into paying customers.
Firstly figure out what your goal is. Do you need to build your brand/credentials to attract investors? Are you trying to get more actual customers? Do you want more hits on your website?
Secondly, research some relevant publications for your business. There are several startup titles (magazines, websites, sections within newspapers) - as well as podcasts. Also research the relevant trade press for your sector. The publication's relevance depends on whom you are trying to reach.
Thirdly, keep your website and company blog up to date. Any journalist will check that before running a story, and if it looks dodgy/amateur/incomplete they may just skip it. Your website needs to be ready for traffic - for public attention - if you're trying to generate publicity.
When you've got these three things ready, you need to figure out what your story is. It needs to be "new, true and interesting". For a startup, this might be:
- a brand new product or service
- a partnership with another company
- getting funding
- executive appointments (eg someone high profile on your board)
- moving into a new market
- significant milestones ($1m in revenue, 100,000th customer)
At this point you can put together a short release or email about your news, and contact a relevant journalist.
Remember that the media outlet is interested in your news, not the mere existence of your company or its products (unless they are doing a "trends" piece which you may be one aspect of). They may also be more interested in hearing from your customers than you, so it's wise to have a loyal customer prepared to speak with them (like a case study).
One useful site may be http://www.sourcebottle.com where journalists put out requests for experts and case studies.
Start by simply stating your goals. Then, define your audience target and execute your plan.
First define your Audience and PR Goals
then brainstorm and Create a Calendar
Create a PR calendar, this will help establish a commitment to PR throughout the year.
Things to remember while creating PR content:
Promote your business by telling, not selling. PR is an opportunity to promote your business and products through storytelling. Your audience and industry publication editors will be more receptive to your message when it’s told in an interesting way.
Relevance is a must. You need to be aware of the hottest topics in your industry and be able to explain how your company is a major mover in these areas.
Draw a connection with your audience. People have a hard time caring about news unless it impacts them directly. Figure out a way to show how your company is having an impact on the lives of your audience, personally or professionally. Editors will be more likely to consider your piece when it serves their audience.
Data is a key resource. As a startup or small business, the majority of your marketing strategy is data-driven. Your PR efforts should be no different. Utilize data analytics to track the amount of traffic and conversions you receive after your company is in the press. This way you’ll get an idea of what kind of content and publications produce the best results for your business.