Public relations – or PR – is one of those funny areas of businesses that can cause startups a bit of an issue. On the one hand, PR is vital to your success. It helps you get your name out there, and it’s typically one of the first steps towards promoting your product or service. But PR can often be costly, and when money is tight (as it always is for startups), it can be difficult to know when the ideal time os to take the plunge. Have no fear of PR, however. In today’s guide, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about public relations and startups – read on to find out more.
Read the news
The first step is something every startup owner should be doing anyway – keeping in touch with the news. The idea here is to find stories relevant to your industry and identifying the critical journalists that are involved in creating the piece. Who are they, who do they write for, and what companies in your sector do they cover? If you can identify just 12-15 or so media outlets, you should have a good base for reaching out to people with any news your fledgling company has. Follow them on Twitter, and start practicing creating pitches for their eyes only. Doing this will help you create targeted pitches, rather than sending in something too generic that is unlikely to be looked at with any seriousness.
Focus on interesting stories
It might disappoint you to hear that no journalist is going to have much of an interest in reporting on your new business, but the chances are they won’t. There will be dozens – if not hundreds – of other startups in your situation, all trying to get exposure. To stand out, you have to do the journalist’s work for them, and make the story yourself. A well-thought out piece of content is more likely to attract interest than a generic pitch. Perhaps you have some interesting stats to share about your market, or maybe you could try sending people a survey and then reveal the answers to the press? There are many interesting things you can do, but the point is they have to have merit in the customer’s eyes.
Google your name
Don’t forget, PR isn’t just about getting your name out there – it’s also about controlling your overall reputation. Make sure you are Googling your company and personal names of the leadership teams often to ensure that you know if there are any negative stories about you hitting the Internet. An angry first customer, or even a business rival, could well leave derogatory comments about your business somewhere – and it’s not the best start in life for your company. In situations such as this, it’s important to look around for some help – a quick look at reputation management pricing will help you get the ball rolling. Wherever there are negative comments about your business, it can cause many different problems for your startup. Customers who don’t know you will instantly develop trust issues. Investors who might be thinking of supplying you with funds could get cold feet. And without an expert PR guide to help you out of the fix, it might prove too difficult to tackle and resolve the issue.
Find brand champions
Brand champions, or brand ambassadors, can be an incredibly valuable tool for startups. Bloggers, early adopters, and individuals from your local scene can all become champions of your product or service, and sing your praises from the roof. Establish some targets who express an interest in your product at an early stage, and allow them access or insight into what you are doing. If you can impress them, these brand champions can do a lot of your first PR for you, giving you social proof, excitement about your product or service, and access to a much wider network of potential customers than you can expect when going it alone.
Focus on message
One final thing – it’s nothing short of vital that whatever type of PR you are doing, you always keep things on-message. The tone of voice you use, the things you say, and the image you present yourself with are all critical to the early stages of success for your startup. And if you can put that branding across right from the very start, people react in a stronger way to your company, and you will begin to develop deeper, more loyal relationships with them. The aim of PR is relatively straightforward – but the method of getting your name out there can be complicated. However, with the right mindset, it is possible to get the PR ball rolling right from the start and to create a positive impact.