Most startup founders assume they don’t need public relations until they’ve grown big enough, or there’s an image or brand crisis. However, PR and marketing strategies actually overlap and complement one another, so you need to work on your PR right from the start. The problem is that this can be challenging when your startup doesn’t have a giant marketing or PR budget.
Fortunately, social media has leveled the playing field for all businesses, big and small. Even if you don’t have the budget to partner with big PR firms, you can still ace the PR game by partnering with more affordable but highly influential bloggers, YouTube influencers, podcasts, and online publications.
Even when working with online influencers, however, you need to have an effective strategy in place so that your PR campaign will be successful. This article will share five easy PR tips to help you publicize your startup.
PR tips for startups
1. Craft compelling stories
When you reach out to journalists, bloggers, and other online influencers, be aware that they won’t write or talk about you simply because you’re the newest startup in a particular industry. Remember, these influencers are also trying to remain relevant to their audience, so they’ll only partner with you if you have something of human interest that adds value for their audience. This is why you should focus on crafting compelling stories that capture people’s attention.
A good way to come up with a good story is to focus on something unique and newsworthy. Some examples include:
- A new product launch
- Expansion to a new location
- Partnership with a new investor
- New executive hiring
- Release of new research, reports, and studies
- Your startup’s social impact
Crafting compelling stories not only makes your business stand out from the competition, but it can also make your brand more memorable, which is one of the objectives of PR. Research by cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner shows that wrapping information in a story makes it 22 times more memorable.
2. Showcase your expertise
Positioning yourself as an expert in your field or niche is a great way to help people learn about your startup. It also allows you to gain earned media as online publications and other industry influencers may start quoting you.
The easiest way to promote your expertise is through content marketing—creating relevant and high-informative content about your industry.
For example, if your startup is in the finance industry, you can create an article with detailed tips about building credit for startup businesses. You can explain how credit building works, the apps and tools businesses can use to improve their financials, and the importance of collecting and reporting alternative payment data. You can then share this content with online publications and influencers within similar industries. Most will be happy to share this with their audience since it’s helpful to them.
Other ways to position yourself as a thought leader in your niche include guest posting with the top publications within your industry and getting featured on relevant podcasts and YouTube channels. Remember, the point here is not to promote your startup. You simply want people to know you as an expert in your niche. Therefore, while it might be okay to mention your startup, don’t get overly promotional.
3. Take advantage of services like HARO
As a new startup founder, you might not have a huge network of journalists to help you promote your new business. However, you can use a service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to connect with journalists looking for quotable sources in your niche.
When you sign up on HARO as a source, you’ll regularly receive requests from journalists working on stories about your industry and looking for experts to cite. If you find a relevant request, simply respond to the journalist and answer their questions.
If the journalist uses your quotes in their story, they’ll cite you and possibly include a backlink to your website. This puts your name out there and helps you position yourself as an authority in your niche.
4. Get involved in charitable and community events
Sponsoring charitable events around your community is another excellent way of spreading the word about your new startup. For instance, you could organize a visit to a local children’s home, sponsor a sports tournament for local schools, organize free coding lessons for kids, support a local nonprofit, and so on. It doesn’t have to be costly—you can go for something affordable as long as it positively impacts the community.
Even when you don’t have a budget for sponsoring charitable events in your community, you can get involved in events organized by others. Such involvement can still spread the word about your business.
Besides creating awareness about your startup, sponsoring and getting involved in charitable events around the community helps establish a positive association with your brand. It is also great for networking and building relationships with people who could later become clients, partners, etc.
5. Build relationships with influencers in your industry
When you’re just starting, your PR efforts will rely largely on cold pitching—reaching out to journalists and online influencers who might not have heard of you. While this may work at first, if you want successful PR over the long term, you must start building relationships with bloggers, journalists, YouTubers, podcasters, and other influencers in your niche before you ever need their help. This way, when you ask for their assistance in spreading the word about your startup, you won’t be another stranger trying to get their attention. You’ll be someone they have a rapport with, so they’ll be more likely to help.
A good way to build relationships with online influencers is to engage with their content. Comment on their blogs, respond to their tweets, discuss ideas that show your expertise, share their content with your followers, and so on. Don’t just look at what they can do for you; you should also look for ways to provide value to them as you build the relationship.
Plan a PR strategy from the start
When running a startup, it’s very easy to focus on perfecting your product and growing your customer base, relegating other aspects like PR to the background. However, in today’s business environment, PR shouldn’t wait until you’re big enough. Having a PR strategy from the start helps maximize your startup’s exposure and complements your marketing efforts.
To summarize, you can make startup PR campaigns more successful by crafting compelling stories, showcasing your expertise, leveraging services like HARO, getting involved in charitable and community events, and building relationships with influencers in your industry.