Can startups leverage code and data to automate PR?

You may have spent tons of painstaking hours building, testing, fixing bugs, testing again, adding new features and finally testing again to create a product you know your target audience will love. …The problem is no one knows it exists…

This is when it’s time to begin building up your media presence and generate a buzz around the great product you’ve produced. However, the struggle many startups face is how to get media coverage with little time and money to actually spend on PR.

At October’s edition of the PR Lab Amsterdam meetup, product marketing and growth expert Barbara Galiza shared her tips on how to use coding and data to come up with the perfect pitch, source relevant authors and find your startup’s story.

After studying Digital Code and Society at London King’s College, Galiza worked as a digital marketer for brand new YCombinator’s dating app Her and then fledgling FinTech startup Pariti. She’s now working as a consultant for tech companies, teaching them how to utilize product marketing and data to generate growth.

Having experience growing user bases from the ground up, Galiza explained, “PR is a great way to get users when you have no budget.” The question was how could her team generate newsworthy stories that journalists would want to write about?

Lacking time and resources, Galiza utilized data that was publicly available to create a scalable way of getting the results her startup needed on a regular basis. Here are her 3 takeaways:

  1. Sourcing story ideas

Mine social websites using Application Programming Interfaces, more commonly known as APIs, to find out which stories are doing best. According to MuleSoft, an API is, “a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.” This information is publicly available and can be sourced from any social media network. Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Tweetbot all connect to social media APIs.

For example, if you’re looking for story ideas to pitch this holiday season you can use APIs to filter the top stories shared by your target publications last year. Then analyze this data to find what type of stories were most popular amongst their audiences. Rather than blindly pitching a story and hoping it’ll be picked up, you can instead use this research to brainstorm similar ideas you know will be interesting for your publication’s editors and readers.

As the information is publicly available you can simply retrieve it yourself and put it into spreadsheets. Otherwise there are tools which can do this for you such as Buzzsumo. “Using these kinds of tools is a great way to figure out how to connect the trends in the market to what your brand does,” explained Galiza.

2. Sourcing relevant authors

Once you have the perfect story, what’s next?

In larger more well-known companies PR teams will already have a list of journalists they’ve built relationships with. In this case getting a journalist to write about you can be a simple phone call away. When you’re starting out you won’t have these relationships in place so you’re sentenced to hours of googling articles on similar topics in order to find potential authors.

Instead, let APIs do the work for you. News organizations like the New York Times and The Guardian all have APIs. Similarly to finding story ideas, you can use them to search for every author who wrote about, for example, health insurance, how many times they wrote about it, what section they wrote about it in, etc.

As Galiza points out, you can then use that extra time to build relationships with journalists, network and do the things only you can do in person.

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3. Utilizing your own data

Aside from using APIs you can also leverage your user and consumer data to create stories around your product. Galiza shared a video she produced for Her comparing their user data with user data from Grindr. With this information they were able to report on the differences in length of conversations, types of profile photos being used and percentage of users who end up in long-term relationships. Even if you don’t have user data you can instead gather this information by sending out a survey.

Don’t forget, the most important part about this is to consider which data and information will be most interesting to the the readers of the publications you want to pitch to, after that consider how you can connect that to your product.

Code and data are not just for IT departments. Today every department, even PR, should be leveraging the wealth of information that can be found to speed up, strengthen and innovate their way of working. For more great insights check out the recording of Galiza’s presentation.