I’ve done a lot of reading lately about PR for startups, because I wanted to see whether there were some study cases and practical examples on how other startups did it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much information on what I was looking for. I believe that only one article struck me as really good and gave people real advice on how to approach this matter on their own.
The Internet is a really valuable resource for entrepreneurs and startups, since they may not have that many funds to begin with.
Why PR for startups is a good idea
First of all, because startups can do PR in house, it doesn’t have high costs (other than time), and it is really effective in the long term, because if it’s done properly, then you build relationships and even friendships with journalists and bloggers that will last you some time.
There’s no point in hiring a PR agency, because usually it will cost you too much money, and most importantly, you’ll learn a lot by doing it on your own.
And that’s what PR is all about. Forget about sending only press releases over and over again. Those days are long gone, and every journalist in the world will tell you that.
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Now, we’re facing another era, the era of storytelling. Even though journalists want to write about news, they don’t want a boring press release from you. They want you to tell them a story.
PR is like building a friendship. It takes years of trust, and people need to go through many interactions together to build a certain amount of trust.
Of course, there are exceptions as well, where two strangers can become best friends in an instant, but those are rare cases. And in PR, you definitely won’t make a journalist into a friend so easily.
PR and social media
PR for startups has been discussed on many tens of articles on the Internet. And as I was saying at the beginning of this article, not many of them are that practical. I mean, theory is important as well, especially for someone that doesn’t have a clue what PR is and where to begin, but at the same time you must present that person with actionable situations and examples of how you did it or how someone else did it.
We’re all good on theory, but it’s the practice that kills us.
One of the most common things that appears in these articles is to follow and engage in the activity of the journalist/blogger you’ve researched beforehand. It is said that it’s good to become friends with them on social media, follow them (on social networks), leave them comments, and only after a while will it be appropriate for you to pitch them a story (not a press release!).
Journalists obviously know about these tactic, and when they notice someone who is constantly following their activity, they will definitely suspect that the person wants something from them.
And that’s perfectly fine. Social media is the way to go, because you’re probably not living near the journalists/bloggers you’re interested in, and this is the easiest way to attract their attention.
But at the same time, they may not even be interested in your story. Of course, if you pitch the story to several journalists, there’s a better chance at least one of them will accept it.
But do you have any guarantee that just by doing everything you can so that they notice you on social media, they will open your email just because they know your stalker face?
Networking, the key to getting PR exposure for your startup
I strongly believe that face-to-face communication is still the most important way for people to build relationships. Obviously, you can’t simply meet everyone you would like to meet (nor should this be your goal), but you should try as often as possible to attend events where influential people will be as well.
I’ve noticed that, over the last few years, people do go to events and attend conferences, but at the same time, they are not really present when there’s a speaker on stage. Instead, attendees choose to spend their time networking with some old friends they get the chance to meet only when events are happening, or they network with the speakers.
You might think that it is kind of disrespectful in a way for the people not to be present when the speakers are lecturing, but you have to think about this from the entrepreneurs’ (or any other employee) perspective. The entrepreneur chooses to spend time building a relationship with an influential person.
At a conference, it’s much more likely that someone will remember you, especially if you had an interesting conversation with them.
Afterwards, if you decide to email them regarding some news about your company, it will be so much easier for that person to make a connection between your face, what you said to them, and your name.
If you want exposure, try to build a relationship with people face to face if possible, and be on the lookout for the biggest events in your area, where you’ll be able to take part.
Speaking of influential persons…
I was so thrilled when I found out that the Spherik Accelerator in Cluj-Napoca and Rat Labs are going to bring Jonathan Shieber to Romania. If you didn’t know him, he is the senior editor of TechCrunch and CrunchBase.
The conference is mainly for entrepreneurs, startups, and PR professionals. Jonathan will talk about how to successfully communicate with the international press, how to build a successful story, and what to avoid when you’re making a pitch.
Squirrly is definitely going to be there. If you’re in the Central Eastern Europe area around 3rd March, maybe you should consider attending this awesome event.
For the Cluj-Napoca area, it’s definitely going to be a big deal, and we can’t wait for him to tell us how to successfully approach the PR for startups strategy.
Now tell me. Is PR part of your startup’s business strategy?