Due to COVID-19, most entrepreneurs are avoiding industry events and moving toward the online space for effective promotions. Public relations (PR) used to be necessary for all new businesses, but today many companies can handle their PR on their own via social media and other channels. However, there are still cases when startups should have a PR strategy in place. Check out some of the reasons you need a PR strategy and best practices to create a successful PR strategy.
4 Reasons Why You Need a PR strategy
Startups that utilize PR in the early stages of their development can acquire more customers, as the audience views earned media as the most authentic form of marketing. Here are four more reasons why you need a PR strategy.
A PR campaign can help you discover more customers and generate conversion rates 10 to 50 times that of advertising conversions. It offers new and exciting ways to engage with your audience, thus amplifying customer acquisition and retention rate.
Consumers Trust Earned Media More
Many startups want to launch a PR campaign since most consumers trust earned media more than traditional ads. Also, earned media from trusted journalists carries a lot of weight in the eyes of potential buyers.
Build a Strong Online Reputation
Building media relations and getting the right press coverage can provide startups with vast brand exposure, refine their brand positioning and increase their brand awareness. Sharing your expertise through PR activities allows you to get third-party endorsements and build connections with thought leaders in your industry.
Increase Brand Visibility
You can use PR activities for effective communication to positively influence how clients, potential customers and investors view and respond to your company. A good PR strategy increases your brand visibility, leading to enhanced support for business development and fundraising to grow.
10 PR Best Practices
With the right PR strategy, you can get strong press coverage for your startup. While big companies can hire professional PR firms to handle all PR-related matters, startups typically cannot do the same. However, there are various best practices that startups can use to build positive PR:
Create Your PR Story
When a startup establishes a minimum viable product or service, it’s ready to build a brand story to start a PR campaign. Build your PR story around the following three elements to get maximum traction.
- Product: Define your product or service, what it does, and how it’s different from its competitors.
- Purpose: Explain the problem your product or service solves, who your target customers are, and how your product or service aligns with their needs.
- Passion: Include the passion, vision and culture of your startup in your story.
Share New, Relevant and Unique Information
Keep track of the most recent articles and popular posts in your industry and write something new or relevant on similar topics. Then present your unique story or argument in a clear, concise, meaningful and compelling way. You can also contribute to cutting-edge discussions in your industry with relevant information.
Identify the Right Publication
Do your research to determine the blogs, newspapers and publications that cover the specific niches and your target market. Then place your content in the section most read by your key audience to get the best engagement. List the names and contact details of publications that are most suited to your specific PR objectives for future use (preferably their email addresses and websites).
Find the target journalists who cover your relevant industry and niche, and focus on similar topics. Then, subscribe to your target journalists’ social feeds and publications, and tailor your story to a theme that your target journalists are interested in and cover often.
Connect and Build Relations with Journalists
Building a strong relationship with journalists can make all the difference to your PR efforts. You can reach out to journalists and industry experts by:
- Joining relevant groups
- Subscribing to target publications
- Sharing information and thoughts on different media outlets
- Attending related industry events
Focus on Providing Valuable Content
An excellent way to build credibility is to contribute content on industry topics, such as a guest post or an opinion piece. Include relevant statistics, case studies and facts in your content to show the impact of your organization. Other information that you can include in your content for the highest impact might include:
- The problem that you fix or solutions you provide
- Customers or businesses using your products or services
- Announcement of a new round of investment
- Change in management or leadership
- Your success story
Consider a “No” Like a Future “Yes”
When you get a no, politely follow up with media personnel for their feedback and suggestions, and then use their responses to improve your content. Always thank the media professionals for their time and have your media kit ready before reaching them.
Maintain a Constant Presence
With proper planning, entrepreneurs can ensure that their startup stays in the news consistently (at least once per month). You can help customers remember you by partnering with different media outlets to create joint content. You can also directly pitch renowned business magazines and websites to offer to write guest posts or engaging and interesting articles. Always analyze the value of each media placement to maximize your PR efforts.
Set a Specific Goal
Be clear about what you want to achieve with your PR initiatives and what type of story you need to promote to reach your target audience. Be specific about your goals before engaging in PR activities, such as:
- Promoting the launch of your company and new products or services.
- Boosting the visibility of your startup to encourage more investment.
- Attracting attention toward a new branch opening.
Personalize Your Emails
Personalize your emails using the journalists' first name, referring to one or more of their recent articles that you’ve read, and explaining why you want to discuss your startup with that journalist in particular. Ask them which type of content will best suit their publication and about the interests of their audience. Then, apply a tailored and personalized approach to match their readers' professional interests and offer value.
Target the Sources Strategically
Don’t look for the top 100 blogs in your niche — instead, figure out the platforms that your target users read most often. Successful PR marketing is a continuous process rather than a one-time accomplishment. As a founder, you should consider the different aspects of startup operations that can serve as occasions for positive media coverage and press stories.