Elevating your startup’s PR marketing
Whenever I speak to startups about PR and marketing, they often have a very vague idea of what to expect. The first thought that came to their mind is to create “fluff” or to pitch to the media for press coverage. Hence, the true value of PR remains a mystery in many startup circles. I suppose the best way to understand PR is to start asking the right questions, which demonstrate the real benefit of PR in startup marketing.
Startups should ask what value do they get by attracting media attention, and what key positions and marketing messages do they want to be communicated in order to improve awareness. Ultimately, all PR tactics have to translate into measurable metrics such as growth in sales conversions, improved customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
These are my top 3 tips for startup to leverage PR for their marketing:
1. Develop a comprehensive and concise press kit
A successful press kit has to contain a few key items such as your company bio, a media kit and also the management team’s bio.
A media kit should:
- Contain all the important points pertaining to the startup; effectively demonstrate how the product is solving a problem, backed up with market trends and competitive analysis data;
- Include headline and all positioning statements which clearly identify the key markets the startup is in; and
- Provide detailed information on what traction, in terms of revenue and market share, they are gaining in these key markets.
- Introduce the team. The management team bio is important as the founders and their skill sets are essential drivers of the startup’s business strategies. The crux has to focus on the driving force of the company and how their beliefs have shaped it.
Startups can be creative by using visual imagery, infographics or testimonials with relevant hi-res imagery of the company product and logo to gather more effective press coverage and market awareness.
Founders need to spend more time formulating the content for the press kit to showcase w the startup’s values and company culture. Most importantly, it is a good marketing tactic to showcase how the startup differentiates from its competitors and formulate a creative storyboard around it. If you want to stand out in the eyes of the press, investors and your target demographic, you must have a great story to share about who you are and how you got started which will better help you connect to your audience.
2. Building constructive relationship with writers
Engagement with writers prior to reaching out is key so that you are able to send them content on stories that may interest them. Startups need to build a relationship with the media and this mutually beneficial relationship would help your startup to market in the long term. The importance of identifying who will care about yourproduct is not only relevant in terms of crafting positioning statements, but in identifying the right writers for a media list as well.
Startups should be careful to pitch only to writers who will be the best fit for your product. Research has to be done to explore writers who have covered these stories with similar themes and relevance. You definitely wouldn’t want a journalist who writes on Apple products to cover an Android application review.
Although it is time consuming to build these relationships, the effort to achieve them can mean great story coverage and the opportunity to be covered again in the future. Even if you are not in a position to leverage journalists or writers, you should still be connecting and making those relationships as they may benefit you and your startup in the long run.
3. Develop and craft meaningful content
Data, both company and internal, is one of the best assets you can bring to media. Business numbers such as business impact, revenue growth, sales conversion, funding etc, will have a profound impact on th perception of your company in the media. Data insights gleaned from your own business — e.g. usage trends that reflect a larger trend or signal a counterintuitive market shift — are great story angles to take to the media.
Another effective way to craft valuable content is to search for core keywords for SEO purposes. Using core keywords on your blog builds your startup’s credibility with search engines.
Startups should think of how their product is able to solve a problem and develop their positioning statements from there. These statements should effectively articulate the company vision and what the product is capable of by clearly describing its value proposition as well. Harnessing the power of social networks, there are four main types of content such as eBooks, newsletters, videos and webinars to effectively pitch content.
Listed below are the unique advantages and disadvantages of content to be published (Extracted from VentureHarbour):
- eBooks: Information products are huge. Offer a free eBook in exchange for a name and email address. Just like that, you have a new lead. You know they’re interested in your product because they were interested in the eBook and now you have their contact information. Now, follow up. Ask their opinion of the eBook and open the door for conversation.
- Webinar: Hearing your voice and engaging with you live gives your customers (and potential customers) a sense of ease. Cross promote your webinar on your blog. Also, have someone on your team live tweet during the webinar using a custom #hashtag. At the end of the webinar, after providing real value to the attendees, post your contact information. It’s a simple, interactive way to generate new leads.
- Newsletter: Email marketing is far from dead, despite what you might have read. Make subscribing to your newsletter quick and easy. Don’t go overboard with your email blasts though because if you overuse the connection, you’ll lose it. For the same reason, you’ll want to ensure every newsletter offers real value and is not just an excuse to push a new product. Try offering a discount, a promotion, industry news, or a contest — whatever!
- Video: If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a video is worth. Keep it simple by having an explainer video created or by shooting an introduction video. Put the video on your startup’s homepage and/or blog.
My general observation when talking to startup founders is that a lot of startups will like to focus on tech and product development at first. PR is often put on the back burner as it does not generate direct revenue and sales. However, PR is essential in the realm of digital marketing to effectively articulate brand positioning and to promoteproducts and services to a global market.
Last but not least, founders have to measure the benefits of hiring an in-house PR team or outsourced the job to anagency to help kickstart their PR and branding campaign. I advise startups to start early in their relationship building with media and also most importantly to formulate their core marketing and positioning message for internal and external customers.