At a fundamental level, Public Relations is about getting information out to a targeted demographic in order to influence their opinions about a company, a product, an idea, etc.
For most young companies, a well-planned Public Relations campaign can deliver a huge return on investment. Startups can use Public Relations to prove prowess and momentum because PR builds awareness, presents ideas to the market, delivers Search Engine Optimization opportunities, and puts your accomplishments on record.
Before you start pulling any triggers, make sure what you are announcing is newsworthy. Be strategic in what you say and how you release information.
Ask: What do we want to accomplish for the business with this communications initiative? Then match your strategy and tactics to your business goals. Are you looking for funding? Do you want to recruit new talent? Are you rolling out a new product or launching a new company? Do you have interesting customers to crow about?
If you have the budget to hire marketing and PR support, your team will help you make sure that your news is well positioned, well represented, and published in the types of publications important to your constituents. However, if budget is limited, take a look at three simple steps startup executives can do on their own to get the word out.
1. Simplify The Story
It’s important to have concise, crystal clear positioning and messaging from the get-go. Why? Reporters and the public will make up their own stories about your company and product if you don’t provide key takeaways from the very beginning. Hone in on where you fit in the marketplace and craft three solid messages that illustrate how your company/product is changing the way people do business. Use up-to-date quotes and data from analysts and influencers to underscore your value statements. Solicit reactions from close associates and trusted advisors – refine your words before you write anything or pitch anyone.
2. Write The Press Release
The rumor that the press release is dead is dead wrong! Media, analysts, and even investors have an eye out for new press releases that introduce companies, launch products, announce executive staff, data, move markets and much more. In fact, when published on the web, a press release officially and publically records your news.
Using the refined messaging, write a release that is no longer than two pages (one page is best). Be succinct, factual and accurate, use quotes and data to validate your claims, and avoid jargon or posturing in your release. No one wants to read obvious “spin”! When adding in third party validation, always get permission from anyone you quote before you go public. Get people to visit your website by embedding links to more information and infusing your release with on-point SEO terms.
3. Execute The Pitch
Long before you make an announcement, do your research on who is writing about your space. Learn what sparks each person’s interests and what they write about. Contact information can be found on the web – just search magazine mastheads and editorial staff lists.
Tell a story about lessons learned, describe how your company helped a customer change their business and win accounts, or explain how you won the support of investors. Compose super short and personal pitches that focus on how your news benefits and informs targeted audiences. In your email, ask people if they are interested in learning more and suggest a time for a call or a meeting with your CEO/CTO. When you keep your pitches short and to the point, you will have better luck getting people to visit your website.
To broadcast your news to an even wider audience, you can invest in using a newswire service (Businesswire, Marketwired, PRNewswire, etc.) These services send your press release out to thousands of news outlets and search engines around the world. Wire fees are based on word count, so use your content wisely! There are ‘free’ wire services, but these have limited reach! Remember that you get what you pay for.
Keep a list of the people you reach out to, respond quickly to all communications, and keep notes about any interactions. These simple habits will help you and your company put forward a professional, big company presence every time you have news to share.