PR 101: Tactics and Strategies for a First Time Founder
When thinking through your new startup’s PR plan, it is important to first identify a strategy for long term success. Your PR strategy should be aligned with your business strategy and while a front page article might be useful for driving initial users your way, it may not bolster long term product/market fit, with time better spent perfecting your UI or hiring that game-changing teammate.
Before moving to external tactics, it is important that you, as a team, can answer these key questions:
- Who are your users/customers? What is the best way to reach them?
- What do you want to accomplish with PR? If it’s PR for PR’s sake ditch it. If, e.g. you want to leverage PR for hiring purpose, make sure you look at media outlets that are relevant for your audience.
- What is your mission/vision? How do you communicate this externally in a few sentences? Do you have a great tagline?
- How are you unique? In what way are you positioned among competitors in the market?
- What are your product’s strengths and weaknesses?
- What is it about your team that makes you capable pursuing your mission?
Creating Your Press Plan:
Only when you can answer these questions, should you embark on a broader PR campaign and plan. This will include who, what, where, and when you will achieve each part of your PR process. From the outset, you might include what goals you’d like to achieve, and what actions you may take if you do not reach those goals as intended.
Some tactics you might include in your PR Plan (if you are company backed by RDV) may include the following.
1. Putting Together a Press Kit:
This is often a compilation of:
- A concise description of your company/product
- Pictures of the product and/or team
- Bios of the founders
- Quick facts/statistics about the product/product’s market
- A short video of the team/product (optional/if there is one)
- A few examples of RDV press kits: Charitweet, Technical Machine, Downtyme
Note: it is not mandatory to put the press kit on your website, but this can be helpful for organizational purposes/ease of access for writers
2. Identifying and Connecting Relevant Publications/Writers:
- hey.press is a great new way to search publications by topic.
- Make a short target list based on those you believe would cover your story. Most writers will list their email addresses with their bio on the publication website.
- Make sure to follow the writer on Twitter, and get a flavor for the types of articles he or she is interested in. Often writers can be more responsive to an interesting share through this platform.
- Sometimes, new companies might meet a writer or reporter for coffee to establish an initial relationship and tell him or her what the team is working on. This can be helpful for maintaining the longer term PR plan.
3. Making An Announcement:
It is important to make sure the announcement topic is newsworthy. Topics that fall into this category include:
- Company Launch
- New Product
- A high profile partnership
- A fundraise
Create a release with all relevant information. A few helpful resources for writing include:
- HubSpot’s Press Release Template, HubSpot
- 8 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release, Huffington Post
- The Six Worst Press Release Topics that Startups Pitch, Entrepreneur
Determine exclusivity: you may decide that you want only one publication to share your story. If so, you will not be sending your press information to any other publication.
Decide if you will set an embargo: If you are setting a specific date for when the news will be shared, make sure to emphasize this in your outreach. Setting an embargo can be helpful for getting coverage from a variety of sources, as they are likely to prepare a story and cover it before it becomes ‘old news.’
Send a short email to your targeted list, making sure to highlight key information: what you are announcing, when you are announcing it, whether it is exclusive, and where to locate the press kit.
**Do not attach: writers often do not have time to open/look through extensive documents. Paste all relevant information, including the press release into the body of the email.
A few more resources:
- Talking to the Press, Google Ventures
- Startup PR: A Journalist’s Advice for Seed-Stage Companies Seeking Press Coverage, NextView Ventures
- PR Tips for Startups, Moonshot PR
- Startup Marketing: Steer Away from Cash-Hungry Tools, Katja Gagen
- How to Gauge Customer Demand, Katja Gagen
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