For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story.
And sharing its story is essential for any business’s success. Good PR can provide value in multiple ways, from encouraging fund-raising to hiring the right people, to retaining the right people, to driving the volume of sales, customers and users.
But when founders aren’t experts at gaining PR, this task can be daunting. As competition among startups increases year after year and online audiences are inundated with more and more media options, crafting a compelling story for a business and pushing that tory out to social channels is one of PR’s greatest value-adds.
Following is a list of ways for getting PR that is both effective and relatively modest in consumption of time. Did I mention that each of these five ideas is basically free?
1. Send video pitches.
Journalists are constantly inundated with pitches. Some of them are good, but a lot of them are not. And even the best ones need work to stand out. Because of this factor of volume, a video pitch can be an effective way to quickly snag a writer’s attention.
Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality. And apparently, this strategy works well. Just ask Sandy Pell of Spin Sucks, who stated on her company’s blog that ,“Video works so well that when I first tried a video pitch, I received nearly 50 percent higher engagement than my text-based attempts.”
Hooty, software which empowers entrepreneurs to do their own PR, has even created a video-pitch builder to support this high response-rate trend.
2. Build relationships using social media.
Social media is one of the best places to research and reach journalists and influencers who regularly write about your field. Each influencer’s profile provides an accurate and up-to-date assessment of his or her specialty, niche and even personal interests. These are the kinds of details which provide topical fodder for organic outreach and authentic relationship-building.
As Neil Patel explained in his Beginner’s Guide To Public Relations for Tech Startups, “The focus of your PR plan of attack should be on making friends, not contacts.”
Plus, by using social media to build connections with influencers and journalists, you can quickly vet each writer’s tone and style to see if it matches your brand’s own voice. Frankly, you can also get free PR. Because relationships are powerful. Besides, writers need something to write about, in any case.
And who better to write about then the startup founders they know and trust on social media (i.e., you)? If you still need convincing, Business2Community reported that 68 percent of journalists in one study found new stories on Twitter. How’s that for a compelling reason to hit social media?
3. Engage in “newsjacking.”
Newsjacking is a powerful strategy for gaining publicity. And it’s remarkably easy to do. Basically, the term describes the use of currently popular news stories to build attention for your own business. In other words, you use the PR momentum from another news story to boost your own brand’s visibility.
An example of this occurred when the world went crazy over whether this dress was yellow and black or blue and white. Dunkin’ Donuts, riffing on that already viral news story, created the below doughnuts and Twitter post.
But how can you, as a founder, stay on top of every breaking news story when you’re already busy building a company?
One tool that is effective for maintaining awareness of breaking stories and hot topics is Hooty’s newsjacking feature. You can choose what hot-story notifications to subscribe to, and then pitch journalists you follow a relevant story which boosts your brand’s visibility. Even if that means creating your own line of doughnuts, the million-dollar PR you get is worth it.
4. Send relevant article pitches.
Staying relevant is crucial to guaranteeing that your idea will be picked up by writers. Journalists need to maintain newsworthy content, which means that any pitch proposed to them needs to establish an angle that resonates with their audience.
Pitching the appropriate content, complete with the proper angle, means you must first determine which publications are most appropriate for your goals. Buzzsumo provides brands with the insight necessary to promote content by analyzing what influencers are best situated to promote it. It also determines what sites are best to reach out to in order to build visibility.
This makes it far easier to tailor pitches to a writer’s preferences and increases the likelihood of your getting a response.
5. Collect accurate emails.
While many PR connections can be made through social media, sending emails to journalists who can potentially write about your field is still a crucial component to gaining the exposure that you need.
It’s important to write a pitch that feels personal and is properly formatted; however, it’s equally important to send that pitch to a current email address. Scouring the internet for email addresses that may be out of date is time-consuming.
Tools like Nymeria can help you find accurate emails right from LinkedIn.
Gaining exposure for a company is no longer as simple as sending out press releases and buying ads. While those tasks may be a part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, gaining exposure through publications and other media sources is vital for increasing a company’s potential for success.
With consumers so frequently inundated with ads, audiences crave a narrative or news-based approach when they’re exposed to a new brand. This makes PR a particularly essential component of a business’s success. And if founders are doing their own PR, it is entirely up to them to create effective pitches and form meaningful connections with journalists and influencers.
Knowing how to do this properly saves founders lots of time. And no one’s time is more precious than a startup founder’s.