Launching a startup and want to gain a distinct market position? You have a lot to do for future progress. You need to build a positive reputation for your brand, woo investors, attract top talent and get the word out.
“Implementing an effective public relations strategy” might not be high on your to-do list. Still, it should be one of your top priorities since promoting validity, exposure and legitimacy gets easier when startups have an efficient and innovative PR strategy.
What is public relations?
Public relations often gets confused with marketing, but they are two different things. Basically, marketing is communication designed to grow sales. PR is strategic communication necessary to grow reputation. (for a more in-depth explanation, check this recent blog post.)
PR focuses on media relations and spreading the word about your brand rather than customer relations. PR efforts seek information about your brand in media outlets, building brand awareness through press coverage. If you want your target audience to perceive you as a trustworthy brand with reliable products or services, you should implement an efficient startup PR strategy.
How can PR help startups?
If you are launching a startup, you probably already have a product you intend to sell. There is also a good chance that other companies are already selling similar products. Therefore, your success in building your good image through media will depend on differentiating yourself from your competition. PR for startups can help you build your brand image by boosting newsworthy content and creating a positive public dialogue about you as a leader in your business.
The more positive media coverage your brand achieves, the better your reputation will be in your industry. A solid startup PR strategy gets you that coverage. When you get featured in the local news or on an industry website — and your competitor does not — you position yourself as a source of reliable information in your industry. If the experts turn to you when they need information, it shows that you are a trustworthy leader who, most likely, offers a trustworthy product. The more media coverage you get, the more you become the stand-out choice for your target audience.
An efficient PR strategy is critical for attracting the attention of other important audiences. Startups typically need investors. Startup investors want to know that the founders they back are authentic and reliable. When positive PR paints you as an industry expert, your value goes up with investors.
Startups also need to attract top talent and build a strong team so they can grow. The high-potential employees want to work for the most promising companies. If you are newsworthy founder, these top talented people will want to work with you. At the very least, getting mentioned in relevant media outlets will attract the attention of those passionate about your industry.
What is unique about a startup PR strategy?
A startup PR strategy focuses on building a reputation rather than building on the already existing brand’s reputation. The goal is to build a buzz by promoting your unique brand position and the new product, service or vision you want to introduce to the market. For example, whereas an established brand might use PR to promote a new product, startups use it to promote their new driving idea. In addition, established brands can use PR outreach to share their success, while startups can use it to suggest their success by leveraging the endorsement the media outlet is supplying.
Although the approaches may be different, the startup PR strategy remains similar. Hiring a reliable and devoted PR firm will help you pitch engaging story ideas to relevant media outlets and influencers, respond to HARO and Qwoted requests, and issue regular press releases to build media momentum. PR for startups, just like for any already established brand, focuses on creating media relations that inspire the target audience to start thinking about the brand as the best available option on the market.
Is hiring a PR firm better for startups?
If you are a startup, you should decide whether you want your PR to be professional or DIY. Your budget may not be able to afford to hook up long-term with PR firms for startups. You might have even thought about taking care of your startup PR needs alone with your team.
However, you should keep in mind that professional PR firms for startups bring expertise and resources that can take you years to build. Moreover, professional PR firms for startups have a list of relevant journalists, as well as influencers and bloggers, for a wide range of industries. Often, media contacts reach out to PR firms regularly to contribute to stories. Although you can also build your reputation by posting on LinkedIn, a professional PR firm for startups can help you to get your articles in Forbes. It can also help with the technical side of PR, such as SEO and backlinks, increasing your chances of getting your company name in front of your target audience.
A list of relevant resources for managing your own media relations
If you decide that hiring a PR firm for startups is not an option, some of the following resources can help you to get your public relations activities started on the right foot:
- The ultimate guide to PR – This post will help you to get a feel for what is involved. You will find information on efficient startup PR strategies and tactics, between digital and traditional PR differences, and how to create a PR campaign.
- Ten top PR tools – Digitalization provides many powerful tools to the PR world. Check out this list if you strive to get noticed by a media outlet. Here, you will find tools for extending your reach, perfecting your timing, focusing your efforts, maximizing your results, and boosting your skills.
- How to Pitch a News Story to an Editor + Proven Media Pitch Examples – A startup’s first connection with a reporter is often be a message – known as a pitch – offering a story idea. No matter how great and unique your email pitch is, it will still be one of the hundreds, if not thousands, that the journalist receives. Click the link to learn how to make it stand out in the journalist’s inbox.
- How to write a press release boilerplate – Press releases are a crucial part of PR work, and boilerplates are an important part of press releases. They provide essential information on your brand that journalists and editors will need for news articles. Click on the link to learn how to develop a clear and concise boilerplate.
- Where to submit a press release – Once you have written a great press release with an awesome boilerplate, you need to forward it to the right hands. Click the link for thoughts on how to approach this as well as a list of 27 sites where you can submit releases yourself.
- A guide to earned media and paid media – If you strive to become an effective PR practitioner, you need to understand “PESO,” an acronym for Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media. It’s necessary to understand startup PR strategy differences. Which type works best to grab the attention of your target audience? Read the post to find out.
- Getting your bylines in top publications – If your ultimate aim is to pull off powerhouse PR, you should publish your byline in a top journal. In other words, you should publish an article you have written — one which lists you, rather than a journalist, as the author — in a widely-read and authoritative publication. If you choose to do in-house PR, this is a lofty goal but not something you shouldn’t shoot for. If you can get your byline in the top magazine, it will help you increase your brand’s reputation significantly.
Choosing PR firms for startups
The more you know about the existing startup PR strategy and tools, you will be more empowered to do public relations. However, if research for the right information overwhelms you and consumes too much time, a professional PR firm for a startup is an option. Finding the right also requires you to do some homework. First, you should ensure that it has proven successful in your field. For example, if you are a tech startup, you should check if they get their clients in TechCrunch and other top tech titles. This post has more information to guide you on hiring a PR firm for startups.
Use PR metrics to measure the success
Whatever startup PR strategy you choose, do not think of it as “set it and forget it.” Instead, doing PR well means constantly being active, tracking your successes, and ensuring you get the expected results.
Are you getting a better rank on search engine results pages? Is there more traffic on your website? Are you getting new clients? Is the quality of the outlets in which you are appearing increasing?
If your answer is “yes, ” this is a sign that your startup PR strategy is efficient and your efforts yield results. However, if you are not seeing these things happen, you may want to tweak your approach or start relying on a more competent PR firm for startups.