You’ve spent a year perfecting your prototype and finally, you’ve just launched your product. As part of your strategy to get customers fast, you’ve developed a press kit about your big launch – great idea! You’ve worked hard to find contact information for writers at TechCrunch, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal. You sent your release out (several times), but no one cared!
You’ve just had a brutal startup PR reality check and you want to know what went wrong?
While top-tier press coverage can deliver massive results overnight, there’s limited space on the hallowed pages of world’s top publications. Sadly, for most early stage startups, your story just won’t cut it.
So, what do you do next?
Ask yourself a few simple questions: Who are your customers? Where do they hang out online? Which publications would be interested in your story, even if the big boys aren’t (yet)?
Many startups overlook the value of smaller, niche publications. Fintech Weekly Magazine is great if you’re developing solutions for banking and payments. Cloud Computing Magazine may be a bore for 90% of the population, but it should be high on your media list if you’re in the industry. And if you’re helping K-Pop fans keep up to date with their favorite stars via your brand new mobile app then you want to be featured on KoreaBoo. You get the idea.
The smaller audience of niche publications may put you off, but their readership is likely to be much more aligned with your target. Success here can be far more attainable than a relentless pursuit of coverage on the world’s biggest publications.
Here are few of the key benefits of a niche publication PR strategy.
1) Deep Insight
Niche publications are a rich source of information about your industry and your customers and they can be a great tool in getting the word out about your company.
Most online publications have a comments section below each article. Learn how your audience talks and communicate with them as a peer. Actively involve yourself in their community and you’ll build trust. Often this level of engagement isn’t possible on larger publications because their audience is more generic and less engaged.
MazM is a great example of a startup pursuing a niche publication strategy. Their mobile game, The Wizard Of Oz showcases beautiful hand-drawn graphics based on the original novel. The game was featured on numerous Wizard of Oz fan sites and online art forums. This approach allowed the startup to insert themselves into the center of their primary target audience and those most likely to convert fans to paying customers.
Tip: Look up Facebook groups that allow you to post. Often you’ll find a ‘Where is everyone from?” thread. This can provide instant information about the most vocal members of your target audience. This can lead to other online communities that have publishing platforms. Sure, it’s not as simple as emailing a reporter, but the benefits of this strategy can quickly stack up.
2) SEO is NOT Dead
Despite some marketers claiming that ‘SEO is dead’, link building is still critical to your Google rank. At the end of the day, 3-4 links from relevant publications are worth a million times more than nothing from the New York Times.
Let’s be honest, you probably located a few niche publications using keywords in a Google search – those at the top had the best SEO. Scan through their content, pick out the most common keywords, and mix them into your own content. It’s an easy exercise that can be done as you’re researching who to reach out to next.
There are even a few handy Google Chrome extensions to make the job really easy. For example, SeoStack helps you quickly capture the most effective keywords from content, like articles, on any web page.
3) Build Loyalty
“Real recognize real”
If you’re genuine and upfront about you and your brand, your customers will respect you a whole lot. While it is effective to be featured halfway through a top 10 list on a big publication (especially next to bigger players in your industry), the people who frequent niche publications really care about the topic. If you can get an ‘in’ with this type of crowd in your industry, your organic growth can quickly sky-rocket.
4) Offer an Exclusive
No one wants to read old news, so it’s often a good idea to offer an exclusive interview or quote to writers when using this tactic. This keeps the story fresh. And remember, journalists are writing for their audience, not for you, so you need to give them something interesting/newsworthy to write about.
Tip: Be careful. Publications always want to be the first to publish a story. Pitching the same story to two rival publications could land you in hot water when ‘leapfrogging’ content. This is where adding value to your pitch is very important.
5) Leapfrog Published Content + Provide extra value
‘Leapfrogging’ content helps you get more and better coverage by citing previous articles about your company. It can even help propel your story from an online forum discussion to a recognised publication.
Tip: Citing a Reddit post with a few upvotes and good conversation can spark interest in the eye of a journalist. If something big is starting on Reddit, it’s an enticing deal to be the first to break the story.
I’ve used this tactic several times to elevate a client’s story from a niche publication to a news outlet with millions of monthly readers. I’ve also had success leveraging a minor mention in a big publication to secure an in-depth cover piece in a niche publication where my ‘real’ target audience goes for their news.
Success in anything doesn’t happen overnight. Be prepared to take many small steps towards a headline story on the front page of a major publication.
If you’re using PR to build your brand in the press then you’re already a step ahead of many startups. That’s fantastic, but be mindful that a big milestone for your company isn’t necessarily a big story for the likes of TechCrunch and rejection is a part of PR in any organisation.
Start small, gain momentum and leapfrog your way to the front pages. Just be careful to not start any civil wars as you go.