“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve met with early-stage companies, and they start by telling us their big vision. They say, ‘This is what we’re about and what we want to change.’ But when we ask them what they actually do, they can’t tell us. If you can’t answer that question, don’t do anything else until you can. Nothing else matters,” says Brooke Hammerling, a PR expert  connecting startups with the media.

While most startups have the engineering know-how to revolutionize the world, they are often left in the dark when it comes to communicating their value proposition to a wider audience. If you can’t afford the services of a marketing agency, do not fret. You can still gather press coverage on your own. Read the below tips to gain the marketing proficiency to boost your startup’s profile to new heights! 

You are your message & your message is everything

Getting that press coverage to reach your audience is important. But this goes in vain if you can’t properly enunciate your message. 

You need to be able to answer these questions in-depth: 

  • What are you?
  • Why are you?
  • Who are you?
  • What problem are you solving and how are you solving it?
  • Why should people care right now?

Clarifying each point is the foundation to deliver a clear and focused value proposition. This is how a powerful narrative about your company is born, and without a powerful narrative you won’t get press coverage.

 

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!

 

Build a master messaging doc

Remember your answers to the above questions? Now it’s time to compile them in a summarized, easy to digest document. Your messaging doc should be a comprehensive outline of the most important points about your company, your product, and your project’s scope, goals and value proposition, which can then be used for journalists, investors, potential clients and even internally. Sharing this document with your employees not only helps align the company’s objectives but also sets a consistent vision and roadmap.  

Startups should develop messaging that resonates and reflects their project, while simultaneously avoiding using technical jargon. Journalists and the general public usually don’t care about the details of the technology. Instead, they want to hear about how it will innovate and change lives. So keep it simple and ensure everyone can understand it. This master doc is your go-to essential in media outreach and content creation.

Prep for launch

Creating a successful press campaign requires time, so do not leave this to the last possible minute. Start preparing as soon as possible. Similar to the questions you asked yourself for the messaging doc, try to clarify your goals for doing press outreach: Do you just want a lot of attention early on? Is the goal to attract a ton of users? Customers? Is the announcement more about recruiting top talent? Do you want to raise more capital or VC interest?

Your answers will reveal your motivations and help shape your approach and story. Depending on your goals, you will probably be going after different outlets. For instance, if you are trying to target engineers, you should vere towards sites like Reddit, Hacker News and other relevant platforms. For investors, you would focus on publications that focus on VC news instead. Whatever your aim, stick with one basic and powerful message, then adjust it accordingly for each audience.

Tip: avoid timing your product launch with funding announcements. The product should stand on its own, and not be based on money expectations. Also, don’t launch before your product is ready. This can kill your brand before it’s even established. Wait till you’re 100 percent ready. 

 

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!

 

Get on the media’s radar: 

Now that your messaging doc is complete and your goals are clearly defined, it’s time to research relevant journalists that will help your cause. From this point on, it’s all about networking and building relationships. This is where a marketing agency with the right connections can help, though you should always try to build your own media relationships as well. 

Start by determining which writers are covering your industry. Read their articles, try to understand their writing style, personality and topics of interest. Follow them on Twitter and try engaging with them before you send out your press release. This shows you are genuinely interested in what they do and result in lasting relationships.

Once you have their attention

It’s time to start talking to the media. Make sure to be informative but concise. And again, avoid technical jargon. A great way of getting journalists to write about you is to share your expertise. Leverage thought leadership by getting your CEO to become a real source of information. Sharing industry know-how, making comments on fellow competitors or even making industry predictions are effective ways of being mentioned in articles and increase your credibility. If your relationship with a journalist allows it, you may even be asked to write a guest post on their publication. 

Try to peak interest with unique story angles. Journalists get thousands of press pitches everyday and probably read about so and so’s product being life-changing and revolutionizing a hundred times a day. To stand out from the crowd, come up with compelling angles for the media to bite. Sharing impressive milestones or exciting announcements always helps. But you don’t necessarily need those to convey a unique story about your project. Think outside the box and find a way to distinguish yourself from the rest.

 

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!

 

When speaking with the press you should be proactive but not obnoxious, informative but not aggressive. Don’t push reporters to run your story – if they have said they will, then they probably will. At the same time, while building relationships with writers, make sure you stay professional otherwise your key messages could suffer.

The irreplaceable voice of the founder

In most cases, founders are the voice and heart of a startup. They care the most about the company’s success. It’s that energy that inspires people, makes for good stories, and it can’t be substituted, according to Hammerling. Founders should always be a part of your media strategy and should be available for interviews with writers, if required. Your press kit should also contain some compelling quotes from your founder about the topic of the story.

Writers really want that connection with the founder and their story. This is vital, even if you hire a marketing agency. If you’re in need of PR support, don’t hesitate to contact us

Interested in doing media outreach but don’t have the capabilities? Contact us and we’ll set up a free initial consultation.

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