PR for startups is quite more nuanced when compared to PR for an established business or an enterprise.
Startups struggle a lot to get visibility in the sea of existing fierce competition. Moreover, winning the trust of customers also intimidates them.
From establishing presence, gaining credibility, and winning customers’ trust, startups need to work on many facets of their business.
To overcome these challenges and outdo the market, startups need to pedal up their PR endeavors to establish themselves in the herd of businesses.
According to Starch research, “nearly nine in ten Americans say that learning about a business through news coverage is more credible and influential than seeing a company’s advertising.”
PR is a cost-effective way to shape your audience's impression of your brand.
Here we put a list of PR do’s and don’ts to help you develop a strong PR strategy and effectively manage press relationships.
DO's of Public Relations
Get Your Brand Message Right
The foremost thing in your PR approach is to decide what message you want to convey to your target audience. Think about how you want your brand to be perceived in your niche.
Build your brand's message on your product/service, value proposition, purpose, and vision.
Define your value proposition - how your business is different from your competitors.
State your purpose - what problem your product/service can solve.
Highlight your distinguishing feature.
Articulate how your product/service aligns with the needs of your target audience.
MachineMetrics, a Northampton-based industrial IoT platform for machines, helped manufacturers monitor their factory operations, productivity, and supply chain from afar through remote monitoring processes during covid-19.
The company solved the real pain point: the physical nature of the manufacturing industry by providing remote connectivity solutions while retaining and improving production efficiency.
Reach Out To The Press
Journalists are always on the lookout for stories, so don’t shy away from approaching them. Before that, do some research.
Make a relevant media contact list. Prepare a press list Including journalists, reporters, media influencers, and bloggers that could be interested in covering and writing about your brand.
Most media lists include the following:
- First name
- Last name
- Media outlet/blog name
- Role (journalist, blogger, influencer, etc.)
- Beats covered
- Social media account
- Recent articles covered
- Contact number
- Style of writing (analytical, humorous, critical, etc.)
- How they prefer to be contacted
Contact the journalists in your niche with pitches and leads on your brand or its product/service.
To get media coverage, your brand story should be newsworthy, valuable, and relevant.
Treehouse, a web development educational site, became newsworthy in the startup, management, and tech fields for its four-day workweek policy, remote work culture, and absence of managers.
Stay Up-To-Date With The Press
Stay abreast of what topics and what kind of stories your relevant media usually publish. Understand what your target media write about the most.
Follow the journalists, influencers, and bloggers in your industry. Know what type of stories they usually cover.
If you know the journalist, go back into the writer’s history to see what they covered. Journalist beats can change over time. Some journalists stick to a particular press beat for many years. Investing time in research will provide you with a deeper understanding of their most recent pieces.
This process seems tedious, but the writer will appreciate the time taken out to read their content. Also, once you know what sparks the interest of the press, you can tailor your press pitches around them.
Connect with the journalists on Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook. You can attend events, conferences, and trade shows to meet the press - introduce yourself, and establish a good relationship.
A great way to win the attention of journalists is by helping them with your expertise. Through Help a Reporter Out (HARO), brands can build rapport with journalists, strengthen brand reputation, and get earned media coverage by answering journalist queries with relevant expertise.
Don'ts of Public Relations
Don’t Be A Creep
Don’t stalk media professionals. Don’t bombard them with messages. If you’ve already sent them an email, wait a few days until you follow up.
Nicole Fallon, the managing editor of Business News Daily, says "calling us within hours of sending the first pitch or emailing us several times a day is doing you any favors.
Media professionals are notoriously busy as they are overburdened with assignments to write on short deadlines. If they find your pitch interesting enough, they will reach out to you. So, be patient.
Before following up with the media professional, check which mode of communication they prefer - email or calls. Always contact the journalists through their professional channels.
Don’t lie about your brand. Remember relationships are built on trust, including PR relationships.
When you impersonate or position yourself as someone you are not, you will lose credibility and gain a bad reputation.
A lie will position your startup in the bad books of the press. It can cost you irreparable damage.
“A businessman who walks a tight line between what is ethical and what is expedient should remember that a corporate reputation takes years to create, but one erroneous step can ruin it.” - Edson Spencer, the former chairman of Honeywell Inc.
Don’t Send Blanket Emails
Generic, automated, and impersonal emails will end up in the spam or trash folders. The last thing that any reporter wants in their inbox is a mass-generated email.
Email blasts may be quick and easy to generate but fail to impress. A journalist receives hundreds of pitches every day to stand out and be well received. Your email should have a personal touch.
Personalized emails increase CTR by 14 percent on average, conversions by 10%, and transaction rates by six times.
To summarize, PR, if done right, can shape perceptions, raise a brand’s profile, and prevent potentially damaging issues from impacting businesses. However, not every startup is equipped to handle PR effectively. Many small businesses make PR blunders that wreak havoc on their PR endeavors. There are some rules which brands need to follow to achieve their PR goals. The above list comes in handy for startups to make their PR a success.