This last weekend, we led a workshop called BrandHack for Startups at the new Betamore in Baltimore. We invited a variety of speakers to come and give talks about their areas of marketing expertise, and of course, we gave a talk about PR. Rather than flip through a boring deck (does the world really need one more PowerPoint presentation?), we chose to have an open talk about what startups really need to know about PR. Here’s what we talked about.
What is PR??
First, it’s not advertising. A client once showed us a copy of an ad they ran in a magazine and said, “We’ve gotten great PR out of this.” (To this day, we’re still not sure what the client meant.) Instead, it’s a deep focus on building relationships, whether that’s directly through social media or, more traditionally, indirectly through media. It can also include other aspects such as government relations, investor relations, crisis management, and community relations. The common theme: Relations.
When should I launch my product?
The key thing to focus on here is to launch is when your product does exactly it promises to do. Don’t worry about all the bells and whistles. Don’t worry if some features aren’t ready to be implemented or are in the works. Focus on the one core feature and make sure it works. Then launch and build from there.
When do I need PR?
Here’s a pretty standard laundry list of times when you need to engage in public relations activities:
- Establish/grow userbase
- Attract investment
- Earn credibility/recognition for a new technology
- Enter a new market
- Position company for purchase
- Mergers & acquisitions
- Mitigate negative perceptions
Do I need to be in TechCrunch?
500 Startups founder Dave McClure once Tweeted, “TechCrunch doesn’t pay the bills.” (Sorry, the tweet’s too old and isn’t publicly available any more.) The answer, of course, is NO! The bottom line is that you need to be in the media outlets that your audiences consume.
How do I get the media to pay attention to me?
There are a lot of ways that a startup can get some media attention, but the first and most important one is to simply be awesome. Startups achieve that by focusing on what sets them apart, what differentiates them. That, and focusing on the problem that the company is trying to solve. Failing that, do something outrageous, like getting a pie thrown in your face.
Most importantly, always remember to answer the question: So What? If you’re not telling a journalist why what your company does matters, then you’ll never get the media attention you deserve!