As a business owner, you know that public relations are essential. But that’s easier said than done, right? After all, how exactly do you run a successful Public relations (PR) campaign for your startup?
If you’re just starting, this guide to startup PR strategies has all the information you need to get started and essential tips to increase your chances of gaining media coverage.
PR can be a powerful tool for raising awareness of your company and its products or services, but keep in mind that it’s not something that will happen overnight.
After all, PR is more than just press releases. It’s about establishing relationships with the right people who can help you spread the word about your brand and build strong relationships over time.
Marketing and PR – What’s the Difference?
There’s a lot of confusion about what marketing and PR are, and the two terms have been used interchangeably so much that it’s become almost impossible to tell them apart.
But what does marketing mean? And how does PR differ from marketing?
I like to think about Marketing vs. PR this way.
Marketing provides a holistic view of the company from different angles and through dozens of mediums. It helps you create a cohesive message for your brand by creating content that resonates with your audience at every stage of their journey. Marketing can be communicated through your brand identity, social media strategy, paid and organic ads, or dozens of other mediums.
PR, on the other hand, helps you communicate with your target audience through objective, third-party (and therefore trustworthy) sources like news outlets, blogs, or other content creators.
“When a journalist writes about a company, it helps to shape image, build a reputation, and is considered trustworthy. It builds brand validation, endorsement, and credibility. Your reputation is a sum of everything you do plus everything is said or written about you.”
Sarit Lamerıvich, CEO and Found of Sage Marketing.
So how does PR work? There are press releases, interviews, and speaking engagements. But it’s not just about getting your name in the news (although that’s part of it); it’s also about telling the world who you are and what you stand for.
You can use a variety of mediums to achieve this goal: online media sites, industry groups, newspapers, magazines, YouTube, podcasts, and the list goes on! But no matter where you put yourself out there—whether through an interview or by sending out press releases—you need to have some sort of strategy in place before you start talking with anyone.
1. Define Your Goals
A successful first step in your startup PR strategy is identifying what you want to achieve. After all, how will you know if it’s successful without a clear objective? Here are some questions below to help you define your goals.
- Are you looking to increase brand awareness?
- Do you need to grow your share of voice (SOV)?
- Do you want to get the attention of investors?
- Are you seeking exposure to your work environment?
- Maybe you need to build trust by being featured on a leading content source.
Whatever your reason for engaging in a PR campaign, those goals must align with all other aspects of the campaign. Ultimately, how you define success and your goals will impact the story you tell. The key is to define those goals before you begin to accurately determine how well the campaign meets them once it is completed.
2. Know Your Audience
To start a successful PR campaign, you must define your audience, better known as your target market. This group of people will benefit most from your product, service, or newsworthy item.
To find out your target audience, ask yourself questions like: What do these users care about? What motivates them? Who do they look up to in society? What media do they consume regularly, and where do they consume it?
Once you’ve figured out these answers, try getting to know them better by following their favorite Twitter accounts or Instagram influencers—anything that will help you understand their interests and desires will be valuable information for planning PR campaigns.
3. Make Time for Relationships!
PR is so much more than just sending press releases or pitching stories, it’s about building relationships with journalists. You can start off by sending weekly updates on your company’s activities to journalists who cover relevant topics so they can use them in their stories.
It’s also important to remember that journalists are people like everyone else. They have interests, they have questions, and they have lives outside of work.
If you want your pitch to be taken seriously, you need to show them that you understand their world as well as your own—and that means being human when you’re communicating with them!
4. Craft Your Message
Once you have your goals and target audience firmly in mind, it’s time to craft your story. To establish a successful PR campaign, you need to know exactly what message you’re trying to send.
If your company is launching a new product or service and you have access to the right people in the media, it’s relatively straightforward.
All you need to do is share the latest exclusive news so they can post it to their readers.
But if this isn’t your situation (or even if it is), chances are that crafting messages for public consumption will require some hefty work.
A good place to start is by considering why this message might be helpful to your audience:
How Does It Relate to Their Needs?
- Does it provide information about something relevant in their lives?
- Does it inspire them with an idea or two?
- Will it impact their business in positive or more efficient ways?
Compelling messages build on the core elements presented above: they are relevant to your audience, specific and clear, easy to read and understand, and (most importantly) actionable. Overall, a successful message will help get your point across.
5. Choose a Target Media Source
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to decide which publication is right for you. Remember, the goal isn’t just getting views on your story; it’s getting the views from the people who matter to your business. Choosing the target publications with the right audience is crucial.
Media relations professionals might consider local over national audiences, print over broadcast, or trade over general media. Defining your media for your story can make or break your success.
For example, if you’re in retail, don’t pitch your story to a publication (digital or print) specializing in technology just because they have more readers than the fashion magazine down the street. It won’t help you reach your target audience and may even hurt your reputation as an expert in retail.
Also, keep in mind the kind of tone and style of writing used by this publication. If their articles are humorous or sarcastic, you might not be wise to approach them with an overly earnest pitch (unless that’s how your business operates).
Don’t neglect Podcasts – Many of today’s mainstream podcasts are fresh enough to be accessible and interested in interviewing startup founders. That makes podcasts one of the best places to invest in PR efforts. We recently published a post titled – The best startup podcasts in 2022. Give them a listen!
6. Pitch Your Story
If you have a great opportunity to pitch to an editor, the first thing to remember is that they don’t know you. They don’t know your company or your product. You need to give them a reason to care!
- Use a PR pitch checklist (or template)
- Be concise
- Be clear and direct in your writing style
- Personalize the pitch by including relevant facts about the publication and its audience—if possible. If not, don’t sweat it! Just make sure you’re clear and focused on each point so they’re not left wondering what’s happening with this weird email from someone they’ve never heard from before… Also, try being interesting/creative if possible! Two birds with one stone!
This leads me to the next point…
7. Follow Up
Follow up with editors who have opened up dialogue with you about your story. How will you know if they’re interested in sharing your news if you don’t follow up?
Make sure to send a follow-up email if the editor hasn’t responded within 24 hours since you first reached out. In this email, recap the details of your initial pitch and ask if they have any questions or concerns. Most importantly, remind them of why you’re reaching out in the first place: to share your news.
8. Celebrate Your Wins!
When running a PR strategy, it can be tempting to think that every press release should be a major story. But the truth is, not every press release needs to be a major story.
When something goes well for your company, celebrate it! Spread the word about what went right so other people will want to work with/buy from/partner with you too!
In our experience, one of the best ways to do this is by writing an employee spotlight blog post about the employee who made the success happen.
This type of blog post can be written in any style you like—you don’t have to follow any particular format—but we’ve found that highlighting employee achievements helps build up your brand and makes employees feel appreciated.