Basics of startup PR hacks — II

This is a series of blogs for our audience to make the best possible use of HelloPress. Through this series, we are not only revealing the names of media houses interested to participate in HelloPress Delhi, but also sharing certain PR strategies used by successful startups. We believe PR is not only about raising funds but an important piece of a puzzle in the growth story of any startup.

Last time it was Slack, this time we are sharing how Square started small and made it big with this media strategy:

Defined their audience

Most of the startups are consumed with getting coverage in major publications such as WSJ, NYT or TC. But smaller publications had a compounding effect that actually took Square closer to their potential customers & users.

Square defined their core to speak to directly so it could pick on adjacent customers along the way because it lowered the barrier to entry. Instead of telling what Square did and what it is about, they told engaging stories of their customers through smaller publications — it showed how valuable their product is.

Following is an abridged version of their strategy inspired from FirstRound and FastCompany

Helped the press

Press isn’t one thing — it is made of multiple channels. Square figured out why it would be important for reporters it wanted to reach. Square helped the reporters understand “why” it was valuable for them to tell their audience.

The following techniques helped Square achieve mass media coverage:

  1. Discovered what customers read — Square identified the publications that were most popular and influential in each of their verticals — starting with the core. Square’s team figured out outlets their customers are listening to. Reaching out to these outlets helped them get the desired attention from their customers.
  2. Understood the reporters — Square never blindly called any reporter. It explained where it came from because they had not worked together before. (Tech startups shouldn’t assume that everyone will be interested to cover what they are doing or how much money it has raised!). They made sure that their stories were always convincing enough that “why it is relevant and useful for the readers”. Reporters are also human, they also have a boss and targets to achieve! Square made their lives easier!
  3. Share customer stories — Square shared real world examples around its product to get the attention of media. Pitching human stories about existing users acted as a springboard to check why people should use their product. The point is to bring stories into light that reporter doesn’t know and then make it about readers (customers) and NOT the product. Square’s marketing team focused on seller stories because their success meant success for the company too. It’s an invaluable proof that the product works, people loved it, and it’s already made a difference for someone who is relatable to the audience.

It’s all about respecting your audience’s time

People may not have the time to read a six-paragraph post, but they’ll share a flow chart on social media. We are all busy people and so a great piece that communicates something in one shot is often very effective.

The more chance you give your audience to understand your brand, the more people you’ll put into your orbit. Hence, one should focus on different types of content with respect to the audience any outlet reaches out to.

We are all excited to see you executing your PR strategies. Would you like to share your message?

Time to let the names of next two media houses attending HelloPress — Inc42 and Intellect Digest. And now it’s four — Inc42, Intellect Digest, Nikkei Asian Review and Iamwire. We have more in the pipeline. Keep watching for the next one. It’s getting bigger!

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