Building The Foundation For Your Startup’s PR Strategy

As a marketing firm in the Bay Area, it’s inevitable to be asked about startup PR. To be fair, I get asked about PR a lot from businesses of all shapes and sizes, but startups in particular like to kick the tires at Forward Push. We’re in the Bay Area, after all, so about half of the people you run into are involved in tech startups.

So many startups, so many options. What’s the best way for a small team on a limited budget to dip into the world of PR? While there are many effective and diverse strategies to be explored, here are the six items I’d recommend as absolute essential starting points:

#1: Establish Your Brand And Message

The goal of PR is to get noticed. This won’t happen if you put out mixed messages about your brand and your value proposition. Before you set out on any startup PR campaign, you’ll need to have a strong sense of what your brand and identity stand for. What is your value proposition? What makes you different from the competition? What qualifies your brand as the innovator in the field? All of these things and more drill down into the very definition of your brand. Once that is established, you can begin to think about an outreach campaign.

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#2: Establish Your Spokesperson And Point of Contact

Part of publicity — startup PR or otherwise — is having a spokesperson and point of contact for your company. This isn’t just to make things easier on your staff with a go-to person (though that helps), it’s because the spokesperson becomes the face/voice of the brand and the point of contact handles all requests and submissions. When these two work hand-in-hand, PR becomes a seamless process for putting out statements and taking further media requests. Without that dynamic, confusion can reign and derail the PR campaign.

#3: Find Outlets For Your Niche

Every industry has its major trade magazines and websites. But what about the next layer of media coverage? From relevant sections of online magazines to individual (and influential) bloggers, the web presents startups with many more opportunities for PR exposure than some may realize. Take the time to research these outlets: find out the type of coverage they offer (news aggregator, opinion, review, etc.), get the appropriate contact information for writers and bloggers, and make note of their social media accounts.

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#4: Use Social Media

One of the easiest ways to drum up interest and activity regarding your brand is through social media. Say you’ve put out a press release announcing a new product feature. While using the standard channels is a start, a savvy startup PR campaign takes advantage of multiple social media platforms to spread the word. This means sharing with your own social media followers but also getting connected with the social media accounts of writers, bloggers, and major websites so they can spread the word.

#5: Don’t Get Caught Flat-Footed

If you’ve put your news out on the wire and social media platforms, then be prepared to respond to requests. Media requests for startup PR can come in all different forms: reviews, interviews, general information, guest blog posts, and more. While not every press release will create this type of response, sooner or later one will, and it’s best to think ahead. Is your product ready for a review? Do you know what your brand message is for interviews? These types of questions will get you ready for the inevitable request…and you never know when that first big PR win will happen!

#6: Get Outside Help if Needed

Startups are strapped for time and resources as it is. Even if you have a marketing person on staff, there’s a good chance that person doesn’t have the time or expertise to write all your press releases, research all your contacts, and manage all your social media accounts on top of general marketing duties. PR and marketing agencies can help lighten some of this load, from ghostwriting press releases and thought-leadership articles to assembling a social media campaign.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to successful PR than just these six items, but these will help any startup PR campaign get going in the right direction. Remember, in all things marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so build your foundation, ask questions, and do your research.

What’s your startup doing to make sure you’re covering these 6 essential things every startup should be doing for PR? Tweet us by filling in the blank and letting us know.