PR tips for startups, freelancers and small businesses

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Some of you have heard me talk about my fantastic experience with PR when I first started The Zandl Group. Len Stein of VisibilityPR absolutely put me on the map.  He did the same for Faith Popcorn and Brain Reserve. So I have always given huge props to the power of PR.

I have so many friends currently who have their own businesses or are freelancing so this article (link below) and it’s great insights on how, when and why to get yourself PR coverage, really resonated with me.

The 3 most important things based on my experience:  1. Make sure you’re ready (can you really talk confidently about your metrics, clients etc.), 2. Know your story (what makes you unique/personal branding) and 3. Have you been trained to stay on message (especially when you’re a neophyte, it’s easy for interviewers to throw you off message).

Read below for all 7 tips.

1. Make sure you are PR ready

Be certain that you are prepared to invest the time and money, and handle the potential attention, associated with launching a PR campaign. Do you have a budget set aside for PR? Is your startup ready to talk about its origins, investors, partners, employees, metrics, etc.? If not, it may be too early. 

2. Define your PR objectives

Are you seeking media attention to help attract investors or capture new customers and grow your business? Or is it to feed your ego? Taking the time to consider exactly why you are seeking media coverage, and what you hope to achieve through it, will best serve your business in the long run.

3. Have realistic expectations

A mention in TechCrunch or The Wall Street Journal will be beneficial, but that is certainly not the only way to reach your target audience. If you are a B2B company, a positive story in a respected trade publication that will be seen by your peers, competitors, and potential customers can work wonders.

4. Be prepared to collaborate 

Hiring a PR agency can be a vital and smart investment for a startup. Conversely, you may choose to create an in-house PR position. Either way, collaboration is key, particularly in the beginning when you should provide your PR team with as many details as possible. Then, trust them to give you an honest assessment on the best ways to achieve your PR objectives. A press release blast will be appropriate on some occasions, while individual media outreach will make more sense for others. Seeking local media coverage first may provide valuable feedback before going out for national exposure, while devising a smart combination of outreach across print, broadcast, online and social media outlets may yield stronger results than just concentrating on one medium alone.

5. Know your story

You are competing with scores of other startups for journalists’ attention, and reporters can be a jaded bunch, so you need to give considerable thought to your story. What sets you apart? What makes you and your company special? Backstory anecdotes are vital to crafting a message that will resonate first with journalists, then with their editors, and then with the general public.

6. Plan ahead

Don’t expect to execute a successful PR campaign in two weeks. Whether you are releasing an update of your app, opening a new storefront location, or launching in a new city, you need to plan well in advance, and consider how and to whom you plan to share your news. Journalists are bombarded with pitches daily, and they are always on deadline, so give your PR team ample time to work their media contacts, and then give journalists enough time to react. They may be interested, but perhaps they can’t get to the story today, this week, or even this month. Media outreach is a delicate balance between patience and persistence.

7. Stay on message

If you are being interviewed by the media, know what you want the headline to be and aim for it. No matter how sidetracked you may become by a line of questioning, always go back to your message. And when the story does come out, don’t get caught up in your own hype, but also don’t get bogged down with unfavorable or slightly inaccurate coverage. Throughout the process, continually work to build relationships with the press, so that you can count on them, and they can count on you, for continued coverage as your company grows.

Link to full article by Garret Reim in Built In Chicago, here.

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