PR for Startups
Public relations can be a tricky space to dip your foot into. Startup businesses are usually the most vulnerable in the space. Trying to create a presence in their niche via social media or online is difficult. But what’s the best advice an established professional can give you? There are 5 things you need to know to navigate through the startup world of public relations.
Here’s What Startups Need to Know:
1. Clear Vision: One Sentence Description
This is a problem that many startups grapple with, and I cannot stress this enough: you MUST be able to succinctly describe your business in a way that illustrates how your business provides value to others. Learn it, memorize it, live it. The second someone asks what your company does, you should be ready to pounce with that brilliant one-liner that you’ve been so diligently crafting for this exact moment.
Having a long-winded, rambling response peppered with ‘uhhs’ and ‘umms’ is a very clear indicator of either A: a lack of confidence, or B: a lack of preparation; both of which you don’t want to appear short on especially if you are the business owner. You should be the one to know your business best. If you can’t explain it simply and clearly to others, how is anyone else supposed to understand?
The secret sauce is having a unique angle that sets you apart from your competitors; be sure to define what separates you from your competition. Give people a reason to want to learn more.
2. Groundwork: Building Relationships with Media
Every industry has its competition, but having the discipline to go the extra mile in developing a multi-faceted PR strategy is what will separate you from your competitors.
A good plan doesn’t guarantee success, but there’s no doubt it’ll increase your chances. It fosters discipline, ensuring you are always focused on short-term goals that are vital for growing a small business.
In this case, it’s taking the time to research your industry and become an expert in the space your business occupies. This includes being aware of who your competitors are, as well as discovering the authoritative voices in your industry: reporters, journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, influencers, and content creators of all kinds. These people are the voices of your industry, the gatekeepers, so to speak. Do the work: know who they are, and what they’re about—it’s good information you’ll need to build relationships with the right people that can help get your foot in the door to bigger and better things.
3. Create the Perfect, Professional Pitch
There are people out there who want to do business with you. A lot of the time, getting people to know you exist is the biggest hurdle. Earlier, we went over how important it is to be able to convey to others what your business is along with what you do in a way that’s easy to understand. It’s also important to be able to do that in writing.
There will be a lot of times you’ll be faced with the daunting prospect of connecting with people via email or DM. Be prepared to get left on read, because it’s not an easy task; there are paid courses, books, and entire seminars dedicated solely to mastering the art. Thankfully, this is not one of those seminars.
Here are a few key points to remember when coming up with a home run of a pitch:
- Keep it professional: you might feel that informality speaks to who you are and what your business represents, but keep in mind that adopting a strategy that’s overly casual can be risky. You run the risk of alienating professionals who don’t appreciate that kind of nonchalant approach. It’s important to portray yourself as a legitimate professional in your space, and not just look like a hobbyist (Think: hey check out my SoundCloud).
- Keep it short: Quality over quantity. If you can’t get facetime with someone and have to make contact via email or through DM, don’t do it with a wordy, drawn out message. Nobody has the time to be reading through a giant, unformatted slab of text from a complete stranger going on about how their new company is the next best thing. You have about 5 to 10 seconds to get a person’s attention before getting left on read, so make it count.
- Keep it real: being unique with a concise message while maintaining proper business etiquette is a fine line to walk, but it is possible. Remember that media influencers, especially journalists and prominent bloggers get pitched to every single day. Whether there’s a personal story behind your company, or if it’s some kind of radical innovation, it’s important to provide an angle or quirk that highlights your company’s value and what separates you from the competition.
4. Social Media
Social media is a fantastic, almost indispensable tool for networking, brand exposure, and increasing online visibility. It helps build trust, and allows for various different methods of reaching new audiences whether it’s live streaming, or connecting with people via daily stories. The possibilities are really endless if you have the talent to build an engaged social media following. The modern business landscape is always changing, and social media is showing no signs of slowing down or becoming any less useful.
As a startup, it’s your duty to be mindful of how to navigate the social media world from a business standpoint. There are so many companies missing out on opportunities for building a buzz due of their lack of consideration or lack of understanding when it comes to promoting and networking via social media.
5. Conventional PR
For the most comprehensive plan of attack, it’s always a good idea to combine the latest marketing techniques along with tried-and-true methods. Having a fully-equipped press kit is a good example of one such method. A press kit, or media kit, is a pre-packaged set of promotional material about your company that distributed to members of the media for promotional/advertising purposes.
Keep in mind with the modernization of everything, it’s good practice to have both physical and digital versions of your kit. If there are journalists or media influencers that want to talk about your business or industry—you want to be sure they have everything they need to paint the best picture possible. Makes sense, right? Include high-resolution photos, press releases, testimonials, bios about prominent figures within the business, awards, articles from other publications; anything that contributes to your brand and increases your authority in the space.
By simplifying the content creation process, it makes writing or talking about your business easier, and that’s always a good thing. Instagram posts, articles, tweets, blurbs, mentions—it all adds to your street cred, building up your business into a more established, more reputable enterprise.