You’ve probably heard about this a lot: Effective promotion is a necessity for a company to grow. But how does one get effective promotion? To make the best recipe that will give your startup the coverage-worthy exposure it needs, you will need a few very important ingredients.
Understanding why PR converts at least 15 times better than advertising is no rocket science. Consumers are becoming smarter by the day. Most people no longer trust the traditional ads they see all over billboards and TV. If paid media and earned media were in a competition, earned media has definitely won by a mile.
It’s easy to know that in theory, but, how do you start? How do you gain people’s attention?
Surprise, surprise — none of it happens by chance. The hottest and trendiest startups have their names all over the media. Having great services is part of what got them there, but it’s not the only thing that gets them the coverage.
Something Small Could Lead to Something Great
It is pretty unrealistic to expect your startup’s first media coverage to be on Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, or any other Big Name in the industry. The best way to start is by focusing on blogs and publications within your industry, as they’re way less competitive and easier to penetrate.
There are channels like Medium, where you can write and post articles on your own accord. Apart from that, you can keep an eye out on companies who run blogs that feature interviews with startup founders. When choosing which blogs to aim for, it’s important to pay attention to their audience base. If their audience base aligns with yours despite any differences in the products you offer, pitching yourself as an interview subject could be an opportunity for you to get coverage for your company.
Starting with smaller blogs may sound like an insignificant feat, but it definitely helps you grow brand awareness. The more you or your company is mentioned on various media platforms, the more your name shows up on Google when someone searches for you or your company. After all, by doing that, you never lose — It’s better to have coverage on smaller blogs than to have no coverage at all.
Know Your Value Proposition
A good value proposition will help people care about your products or services. A value proposition tells a story that is built on three basic elements — your product, your purpose, and passion. These three P’s are crucial parts in generating substantial PR coverage.
Defining your product should explain what it does, and where its niche offering currently fits into the existing industry landscape. It will be a good start to list down three to five points that you, personally, would want to know about your services. These will be your reference points to what you can expect from investors and customers. To build confidence in people, you yourself need to know how your products are different from your competitors’. Therefore, undergoing competitive analysis in the early stages will never go wrong.
The second element to take into consideration is your purpose. Where does your product fit into the pain points of your target market? It is good to create a few marketing personas to better understand the people you are tailoring your products to.
Passion, last but not least, is where you capture the essence of your startup. This is where you portray enthusiasm, confidence, authenticity, and any other values that make up your company’s culture. Create a brand story that is human and relatable to your market. Using real characters and events to shape your stories adds a touch of warmth to your brand.
They say, PR is 70% message and 30% messenger. Don’t worry too much about not having direct connections with journalists to begin with. An interesting message could become a story without prior relationships.
Invest Early in Relationships
Speaking of relationships, it always feels better to have genuine relationships with people. Note: genuine. That means connecting with them not only because you need something from them, or vice versa. Journalists are human too. Building connections with these people at the early stages of your business could definitely make it significantly easier for you in the future to ask for help.
There are many channels you can utilize to naturally reach out to local journalists and industry experts. Try to find a place where you can provide value, and talk about things that both of you are interested in. This could be through joining interest communities on platforms with groups like LinkedIn and Facebook, participating in topic-specific forums, taking part in discussions on Twitter, or directly networking by attending industry events. Those are some efforts that you can start with.
Tip: Avoid posting promotional content in discussions. Although that may work sometimes, it will often backfire on you and your brand. Instead, gain real trust by providing your community helpful solutions with your expertise and knowledge.
Stand Out on Social Media
Social media has become a major source of material in this modern day. It is a go-to place for journalists and media publications to find subjects and inspiration for content. Having a strong content marketing strategy will make you stand out from the crowd, and that involves being consistent. Plan ahead with a content calendar, and build trust by putting out regular content. Reach out to influencers to help you reach a larger audience. These little things can help boost brand visibility and create a loyal following for your startup.
With or without prior media exposure, these marketing efforts can help your startup get noticed by media outlets. Having a strong social media strategy and online presence can pave the way for your startup to move towards higher-profile media exposure. Focus on increasing your visibility and expanding your network by making substantial contributions to your community. You might thank us later.
Be a Purple Cow
How many emails does a journalist get in a day? On average, journalists at bigger media outlets probably get about 500 emails a day from companies or individuals requesting for coverage. How do you get them to open your email without clicking away within 5 seconds?
Be the cow that’s, well, not like other cows.
Imagine a day in the life of a journalist. You are flooded with hundreds of emails and press releases every single day. While going through your flooded inbox, you have to scan through all these emails that are mostly filled with self-declared experts, self-praise, and unrealistic claims and expectations. Among these hundreds of emails, you are focused on finding a subject that’s unlike the rest, and will make an interesting story for your readers. What would you be looking for? Something “been there, done that”? Or something fresh, unique, and real that’s not like everything else you’ve seen on the news?
Keep this in mind when you’re writing to journalists. While you’re trying to get yourself noticed, you’re also trying to help the journalist to achieve their goals. This will definitely take you a step closer to getting into the PR machinery.
Bonus Tip – Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Always be prepared. When your outreach brings forth a positive response, make sure you’re ready to put your share on the table. If you’re launching — is the website ready? If they ask for an interview — are you mentally prepped? Do you have a clear purpose? Have your press kit at hand. Make sure you’re ready with a founder bio, photos, videos of the product being used, and your company story.
It’s not cute to disrespect a deadline and break promises that you’ve made with media outlets. If you promise a story, give it to them. This is you building your reputation. Remember, journalists are human too. If you make their life easier, chances are they will be happy to help you again for the next story you might have for them. Keep in mind that a successful PR coverage is not a one-time thing. It can become a continuous source of coverage for your brand. All the relationships you build will come full circle.