PR (Public Relations) is usually not looked at as a priority item at many startups that we have worked with. While we are cognizant of the fact that founders wear multiple hats during the early stage to build a product, sell to customers, schmooze investors, grow your team, and what not; We also realize the importance of publicity that can provide a nudge to some of these initiatives. Mind you, PR won't build your product, but it can help you shape your brand!
Startups can use media coverage for their benefit in multiple ways. Good, positive coverage from the right publications can ensure a stream of inbound leads from your target customers. PR, when done right can also help you appear bigger than you are - always a good thing while negotiating with vendors, customers on the fence, and other partners. And lastly, positive communication of the ethos can help you attract, and retain the right kind of talent for your growing team.
Some know it well, some do not care about it, some fail miserably at it - that's PR for you. In this post, we want to highlight a few ways founders can get favorable coverage on media.
Just as you would target the kind of investors that you want to pitch to (we sure hope you are doing this!), it also makes sense to target the kind of publication, and journalist that covers the space you are operating in. Quickly check news archives of similar companies in the industry, and your peers to understand which kind of publications cover your space. Find a common ground, and try to find as much as you can about the said publication and journalist. If a journalist or publication has covered similar stories in the past, they can relate to the space and will more likely to be receptive than someone who has not!
During your periodic communication with your investors, ask them specifically if they have connections to journalists or publications and if they can provide a warm introduction. Often, the fact that you've raised capital will give you some credibility. If investors found your story to be interesting, it will be interesting to a journalist as well! Use that!
Okay, you aren't ready for PR right now. Still, does not hurt to go out and build relationships ahead of time. Find the journalists, follow them on their social media, follow their coverage, like, share, comment, offer them your insights, offer any introductions with other people in your network that might be useful to them. All this works better than a warm introduction!
Prepare a brief one-pager on your story, your business, and some key facts, and maybe quotes from customers or investors. Draft the message in a concise and crisp manner with proper grammar and punctuation. Do not gloat in your message, the journalist will most likely edit it out. Essentially you want to reduce the friction as much as possible. You want the journalist to be able to forward and publish your story as you sent it without them having to edit, and rewrite.
The key here is to have an ally that can portray a positive, yet truthful story about who you are, and what are you doing!