Many small business owners think that doing PR means filling up reporters’ inboxes with email after email detailing how their companies are the greatest thing since sliced bread, when in truth, they’re just another startup.
I’m not saying your company isn’t interesting, but I am saying that what reporters and influencers find interesting could differ very widely from what you do. Once you’ve launched your startup, you’ll want to interest as many reporters and influencers as possible. To do this, you need to follow these six PR tips for startups:
1. Build relationships with reporters or influencers.
That first “touch” with a reporter can be a little tricky. You don’t want to spam reporters with emails, but you also don’t want to be disingenuous. Here is an example of an email I like to send members of the media to get the relationship ball rolling:
Hello John Media,
Caught your article in reallygreattechsite.com and, wow, really good stuff. My company [your company name] works in that space, specifically [relevant area]. You offered some great insights about our industry, especially that part about the [specific portion of the article]. That is especially cool.
Full disclosure, I’m writing as both an admirer of your work and to make a connection. If you should ever need a resource for a quote or clarification about [something your company does], I’m at your disposal. Or, I can connect you with any member of our product team who can go into more detail. My contact information is below.
Again, great work!
You can say something very similar to this on social networks, only smaller. A good mix of transparency and purpose goes a long way.
2. Understand what subject(s) they cover.
Nothing will get your startup PR efforts shut down faster than pitching a story to a reporter about a subject they do not cover. What it tells a reporter is that you think of them as nothing more than a glorified megaphone. I can tell a reporter about my company’s payroll software for small business, but if they only report the latest sports news, I would be wasting my time.
Think about it. What if you just struck up a random conversation with someone you met on the street, and you just started talking about whatever you found interesting, without the slightest concern for their time or what they do. How do you think that person would feel? How would you feel? Now, think about the times you’ve run into someone at an event where you were both passionate about what was going on. You exchanged opinions. You shared personal stories. You made a relationship.
3. Pitch your story during times when it’s relevant.
A common thing I hear from PR professionals is that they hate when, right after they write an article on a particular subject, people immediately pitch more ideas about that same subject–as if all that reporter does is write articles about online payroll and startup tech companies, for example.
Another complaint: asking reporters to write about topics that are out of season for that reporter’s readership. If you really want to implement a good startup PR strategy, you need to know when stories and angles originating in your company might be relevant to the readerships of those reporters you’re pitching to.