PR Tips for Startups

October 9, 2012

Almost every startup I hear has the same three goals; launch a product, get users, and get on that blog. (You know which one I’m talking about.) Making money – let alone enough to be profitable – is rarely even a thought in the minds of young entrepreneurs. Getting press (especially from high-profile blogs) is, however, hot on the minds of most startups. Even if you dedicate someone on your team to the task of PR, be sure you don’t focus on just press releases. Here are a few PR tips that can help your startup stand out – and hopefully get the attention of that blog you really want to reach.

Replace Press Releases With Direct Email

This tip doesn’t mean you have to do away with press releases. They’re still an important part of any PR camapgin. It’s more effective, however, to send a custom email to a number of your most recognized media contacts.
Bloggers and press receive countless press releases every day, and each one of them is filled with spin and jargon that does little to shed light on the actual announcement being made. More importantly, a lot of these releases are actually anything but newsworthy.
If your startup has an announcement that absolutely (and actually) warrants coverage, take a moment to have someone on your team send an email to a variety of contacts – especially contacts you personally have a relationship with. These messages should target the areas that the blogger and/or media outlet focuses on most. If you’re writing to a startup blog, consider including a paragraph on how this announcement impacts the business from a startup’s perspective. If you are sending an email to an organization that writes about server technology, then more time should be spent detailing the technology put in place.
This takes time and effort, but the payoff can be much better than simply forwarding a press release.

Participate in Conversations

If your company isn’t actively participating in conversations taking place on social networks, it should. How many other startups have you seen simply push updates and ignore the comments and/or questions asked by their followers on Facebook or Twitter? These questions are important because they could mean the difference between your customer and your competition’s.
Good feedback isn’t always handed to you. Often, the best feedback you’ll receive is given freely on social networks and in forums around the Web. Someone will bring up your startup and a conversation will develop around the merits and/or pitfalls of its product. By taking a moment to respond to these conversations, you’re actually creating a compelling story that could spread well beyond the initial members of the conversation. And as fellow successful Seattle startup founder Rand Fishkin wrote last week, having a compelling story about your company can either make or break your business.
Additionally, developing relationships via social media can help ensure that news about your startup reaches not just as many people as possible, but targeted individuals and businesses who are interested.

Post to Your Company Blog Often

Company blogs usually offer insight into the motivations and inner workings of a company. It’s because of this many bloggers and even traditional media types pay close attention to them. A company that rarely posts to its blog can be perceived as having little actually going on.
Some startups prefer to keep the interest alive by posting regular updates regarding upcoming products and updates. Others might see the corporate blog as an excellent avenue for expressing corporate perspective on various industry topics. A startup that deals in cloud storage posting regularly about the cloud computing industry as a whole may add value to your data stream. This could drive attention to the very platform on which you can share information about your products or services.
If your blog is useful for more than just receiving updates about the company, you may actually be able to leverage it more successfully when announcing new information than if you were to send out a “traditional” press release.
The world of public relations has undergone a massive culture shift in recent years. There are companies that are stuck in their ways and suffering greatly for it. Startups have the advantage of being able to pivot and adapt to shifts in the business world. Using new forms of media – especially social media – when approaching PR will give your startup an advantage over those that continue choose to use traditional routes.


Kelly Clay

Kelly Clay