Starved for attention? As a start-up, it is often difficult to get the coverage that you think you deserve. Media companies often look for familiar names, sometimes overlooking worthwhile start-ups that are struggling to break into the media spotlight.
The good news is that every major company you know has gone through this same struggle. Getting attention is hard, but with the right strategy, you can get the attention you deserve.
It all begins with the following seven PR hacks:
- A journey and not a means to an end
Public relations, or PR, is not the dark arts. You can’t just hire someone and have them instantly solve your lack of media coverage. Yet, many start-ups think that throwing money at the problem will somehow magically solve it. Remember, PR is about managing perceptions. It is also an ongoing process, one that requires a clear strategy .
- Design your value proposition for humans (not search engines)
As a PR person, I am amazed at how many start-ups claim they are doing something unique, while sounding exactly the same as their next competitor.
For reporters who often go through hundreds of different pitches, if they do not immediately see your value proposition, they will simply overlook it.
To get the right value proposition, you need to be honest with it. This means gathering opinions and feedback from third parties or even friendly reporters. It is why you employ a PR person or agency, as they can help you craft a value proposition that rocks.
Essentially, your value proposition needs to define the problem statement and show why your solution or service is unique in addressing the problem. It should then highlight the measurable gains when a customer adopts your services or solution and show why you are competitively positioned to deliver this unique value proposition.
- Understand your target reporters’ interests
Reporters tend to follow beats they are familiar with or topics that see the most traction. If you want your start-up to have a high likelihood of being covered, ensure that you can talk about similar topics. Do not start with your solution promise, but rather, frame your value proposition around the issue. For reporters who are always looking for good opinions or comments, you can become an essential resource.
- Know your target reporters
Like you and I, reporters are human, not just another faceless email address. Just like knowing potential customers, bridges must be built in order to get to know a reporter. This includes understanding their current interests, past articles, as well as following their comments. Be prepared to spend some time doing this essential research.
In today’s social media age, you can also follow them, retweet or share their posts, comment on their feed, and offer yourself as a source for their articles. Not all will work, but in the end, you need to see target reporters as potential customers. They may not pay, but their opinion and coverage can indirectly help your top and bottom lines.
- Be media-friendly
You have (finally) gotten a reporter’s attention. But how easy is it for him or her to get the information they want?
This is where many start-ups fail. Their online information is dense and sometimes difficult to navigate. Access to third-person bios, photos, and contact persons are a few bare minimum things that start-ups sometimes overlook. If you make a claim in a press release, be sure to link to the relevant data or research. And if you have customer references, make customer quotes and case studies available.
Simply put, if it becomes too difficult for the reporter to get to your information, they will simply move onto your next competitor.
- Craft your press release
In the near past, there was a trend to forgo the venerable press release for a blog announcement or social media post. Companies like Google and Facebook still do the same. But this is a dangerous habit.
Press releases exist for a reason. They are an official record of a company milestone. They also offer all the concise information that a reporter needs. It is your interface with the media. When reporters do research, your past press releases count. I cannot stress strongly enough that you have your press release framework firmly squared away.
- Engage, engage, engage
There was a time when bad news meant staying quiet. However, in today’s connected age, it offers a unique opportunity. Get prepared, know the right points to highlight, understand the counter-arguments, and focus on your value proposition.
Done well, it offers a way to be heard and noticed by the right media. Reporters love start-up founders and companies that have a definite opinion.
These seven points may be appear to be simple, straightforward and common sense. Yet, I have met several start-ups who have had trouble getting the right attention simply because they ignored the basics I have listed above.
A good PR team or agency can help you get prepared on the above and start your journey to getting the right media attention.