Three seasoned marketers give invaluable tips for startups to find the right PR for them.
The natural storytelling process is typically triggered by a new product, but as Brendan Lowry, Marketing Director of Curalate explained, “Simply presenting your product isn’t enough. You have to provide the solution.” The tech industry can be hard to understand, so reporters won’t always get it. Focus on what you can achieve with the technology you have. What is the problem that it solves? Successfully conveying this information explicitly validates your importance and demonstrates how your business adds value.
Research each reporter to know their style, how best to contact them, and what they primarily write about. A popular site may get a lot of readership, but, in some cases, a lesser known site that will thoughtfully and accurately describe your product and company’s vision in a smaller, business-oriented piece may be far better than “a fluff piece” published on the highly trafficked site. Josh Cline, of The Cline Group, warned the audience against “blast[ing] every reporter with everything you have. Give exclusives. Pitch carefully.” Understand the size and stage of your company before choosing an agency. How you want to be perceived and your own expectations will partly dictate which agency is best for you. Moreover, do they get your brand? Are they excited about you? Remember to ask them questions to know if they are the right fit.
Don’t lock yourself into long-term relationships. You are a startup – everything is new and you need to take your time. Six months is a good baseline to get results and analyze how well things work. Have incremental plans for post-launch and know their strategy prior to going on retainer. How are they structured? Is it hourly, per project, a retainer? Not all companies are created equally and you must make sure they are passionate about telling your story.
If it’s your first time reaching out to a particular reporter, do your homework. Look at competitors and know how to best approach them. Are they on Twitter often? Tweet at them. Do they stay visible on instant messengers or Instagram their morning cup of coffee? Meet them where they are most comfortable. Michelle Conrad, of Cashman and Associates, put it succinctly when she said “Engage them how they like to be engaged.” Test contacting them on Twitter versus Linkedin. Get them to recognize your name by being active on different social networks, so when you email them, they will recognize you.
Though you come across an article not related to your business, if you know someone interested in that particular topic, send it to them. Establish rapport that is not limited to the rigidity of direct business, as there is much value and trust in those relationships. Content is king, and to successfully represent you, adequate research must be performed by both parties.