The road that startups travel is often long and treacherous -- the successes brief, the periods of frustration seemingly endless. At times it may feel like fighting on a battlefield with sticks when everyone else is armed with tanks and precision missiles. Amidst all your other worries, you certainly don't want to be derailed by shoddy PR. Then don’t let your startup PR fall through the cracks.
The challenges of small business PR may seem insurmountable -- let’s be painfully honest for a moment. You have little to no brand recognition, no customers, and minimal capital to spend on PR. Don’t get discouraged though. Small business PR can make the difference between a company that fizzles and one that sizzles. Let's see what you need to do.
Generate Your Own Startup PR
Media coverage is not just about being the most popular kid on the block. It has real, tangible benefits for your small business PR. Among these benefits, media coverage can spark the interest of investors, build your brand visibility, andhelp you acquire users and followers (aka potential customers).
Let’s look at inexpensive ways that you can achieve media coverage without breaking the bank.
Create Messaging that Resonates
Too many startups in my experience think a great idea can sell itself. If that were the case, we'd have many more successful startups than we do since everyone at some point has a great idea. The key is packaging your key benefits so they are easy to understand and crystal clear why anyone should care. That means avoiding jargon, using obscure language or overstating the facts. Make it credible. Remember the great line for the original iPod. "1,000 songs in your pocket." What could be clear or more compelling than that?
Create a Killer Press Release
Despite being mocked as antiquated, press releases work. If they're done correctly. In fact, media depend on them to quickly understand what a story is about. Ordinary folks read them too.
What is the key to creating an engaging press release that doesn't immediately get trashed? Tell a compelling story buttressed by facts. Let's say you have a new product coming out. You don't simply want to say that you've launched a new gizmo. What about it will make a difference in people's lives? How will it help them be more productive? Save money? Solve problems? Why should someone care?
Don't just think in terms of text either. Visuals will enhance the value of your story and make it come alive. According to PR Newswire research, simply adding a photo a release will increase visibilty almost two times while adding multimedia will amp the impact more than 4 times. Add both video and a photo and you'll boost the impact more than 7 times. So think visuals.
(For more information on how to create a press release that performs, click here.)
Work with individual Journalists
A one-on-one relationship with a journalist can open the door for your startup PR. One place to start is trade media. You probably already are familiar with the trade publications in your sector. Now you need to get to know a few relevant reporters. See who is writing content applicable to your business. Scope out competitors to learn who is writing about them.
Familiarize yourself with Muck Rack which can help you find and connect with journalists. You may also find their contact information on their publication's website or on LinkedIn.
(Click here to learn about 7 amazing pr strategies will attract more journalists to your startup.)
Once you determine the right journalists, start following them on social media and share their content. Your next step is to create a compelling reason for a reporter to want to speak with you.
If you’re too busy or uncomfortable reaching out to journalists, consider using a PR agency, who already has established press contacts, and will do the heavy lifting for you.
(To learn how to become a PR pro as a small business, click here.)
Build a Social Media Following Through a Content Marketing Campaign
Social media is a growing and powerful resource in PR for small business. Many journalists keep their eyes and ears open on social media channels to find that next big thing that may lead them to their next story.
Create compelling content using relevant hashtags on Twitter. You have the expertise in your industry -- enough to start your small business -- use it to create authoritative and engaging content.
(Click here to learn 7 steps that will get you up to speed on social media.)
Expand your reach by writing guest posts that will expose your business to others and help drive traffic to your own site. Reach out and engage with influencers on social media. If an influencer shares your content, that can suddenly put you in front of an exponentially more eyeballs.
Handpicked Related Content
One of your best strengths is that you’re a local business. Tap into that strength and get involved in local events. Sign up to be a speaker at an industry event, or get your team involved in a local charity or fundraising event. Make sure your team serves as representives of your company -- so your company gains local brand recognition.
Local events are pivotal opportunities to give back and build relationships with those in your community. If the the media covers the event, your small business may gain exposure.
Don't forget local media. Your hometown paper is always looking for new businesses to feature. Read the business section of your paper and discover what types of stories the outlet runs and how your business might fit it.
Newsjack an Existing Story
Every week there are news stories that ride the waves of the media. Find an angle to attach your company to such a story -- write about your view on what happened, or how this story impacts your industry. Take a decisive --whether for or against. If it’s an environmental issue, your position might be to stop using environmentally hazardous product in favor of greener options. The story will eventually lose momentum, but not before your company shares some of the limelight.
(Click here to learn about more powerful ways to get exposure for your startup.)
Wherever you are along your journey to create PR for your small business, these helpful tips can kickstart you in the right direction.