Despite its reputation as a dark art, PR isn’t all smoke and mirrors. Here at Luminous PR we believe most savvy entrepreneurs have the necessary skills to organise a simple media launch for their startup.
We’re not saying you should attempt anything wildly ambitious, but there are a few things anyone can do to get the right kind of media attention for their brand. Here are our top five tips for organising an attention-grabbing media for your startup. Thank us later!
- Planning and preparation are everything
Before even considering any kind of media activity, you need to be sure you know your target audience inside out.
Remember you need to be targeting the person who’ll be paying for your product or service, and that might not be the same as the end user.
When you’ve established who you’ll be targeting, research where they go for their news – this will inform your outreach. Modern PR doesn’t stop at newspapers and magazines, anymore. Consider things like blogs, websites, social media platforms, podcasts, TV and radio shows that are likely to interest your target audience.
Next, research key writers or publishers who contribute to those publications. Mirroring their terminology and tone of voice will emphasise that your product is a good fit for their readers. Single out your top priority publications, and pay particular attention to them first. Authoritative publications, like national newspapers, will only run a story if nobody else has had it first, so be sure to offer exclusives to the right people before approaching less influential journalists.
- Make the most of relevant data
Journalists love to include facts and figures to a story – they add weight and authority and are a good way of establishing context or a problem.
As obvious as is sounds, news is supposed to be ‘new’. That means a journalist will always prefer to use facts or figures that have never been seen before. If you have the budget, consider carrying out your own research and data-gathering to enhance your media launch.
Don’t panic: you don’t have to produce a 300 page white-paper. Even just a simple survey can unearth some interesting data to entice journalists. A word to the wise, though – journalists don’t give much weight to research with small sample sizes. You need to be surveying at least 2,000 people for your data to be taken seriously.
If you simply don’t have the budget to conduct research, there are several reputable sources you can go to for data. The Office of National Statistics publish regular research findings across a wealth of topics. It’s all independent too, so you know you can trust it. YouGov is another great source of reliable, impartial data. They conduct online surveys on members of the public about topics like politics, television, brands, public affairs, and general interests.
While these sources aren’t as valuable to a journalist as your own exclusive research, peppering your press release with verifiable figures will certainly help to back up your claims.
- Perfect your pitch
That is, work on what you’re going to send out to journalists. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t always have to be a press release.
Your startup could have a really strong visual element, in which case the best way to demonstrate it might be a video. Whatever method you choose to pitch your startup launch to the media, you need to ensure that all the key information is easily accessible.
Make the story jump out in the opening paragraphs – don’t bury the news value deep within your pitch. Likewise, make it really clear how your startup will relate to this publication and its readers. A good way to do this is to pull out past features on a relevant topic, and pitch a different angle to the story, relating to your startup.
Of course, don’t forget the basics. Only pitch your startup launch to journalists who cover your sector, and give plenty of time and notice if your launch is time-sensitive. Be aware that most publications work weeks or months in advance, so you need to secure a spot early.
- Drum up interest on social media
Pitching your startup launch to the media or bloggers is all well and good, but if nobody’s heard of you before, you are really going in cold. A good way to warm up potential leads before pitching is by creating a buzz about your startup brand on social media.
Consider which social media platforms are most widely used by your target audience and start there. Twitter and Facebook can be suitable for both B2B and B2C brands, while LinkedIn is best if your startup is a more corporate offering. Again, if your startup is visually exciting, don’t forget about networks like Instagram and Pinterest to show it off.
Sadly, you need to do more than just post content on social media to become a viral megastar. Remember to include relevant hashtags when sharing your content so that it’s easily found by interested users. Using current trends is an easy but effective way to make your content engaging and shareable, but don’t go off topic or jump on fads for the sake of it – your customers will see straight through it.
- Consider hosting an event
A well-planned launch event is one way of putting your startup in front of the eyes of relevant bloggers and journalists. However, these take time and budget to do well, so be sure it’s right for your brand before committing.
Remember that it’s not all about you – how will journalists and bloggers benefit from attending your launch event? Give them added value that they wouldn’t get from just opening a press release: a demonstration of your new product, a free sample to review, and even a chance to grill the brains behind it.
Launch events are a great opportunity to speak face-to-face to people that could make a real difference to your brand, so be ruthlessly selective with who you invite. Choose journalists and bloggers who know your sector inside out, and write about it regularly.
The thought of pitching your product or service to journalists can be a daunting one. However, as long as you’ve done your homework, and your startup is up to scratch, you have nothing to worry about.
Most journalists are grateful to have exciting content and businesses drawn to their attention – it’s just being hassled by irrelevant press releases and phone calls they don’t like!
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps it’s time to call in the professionals. Just remember that for each media niche, there’ll be a handful of PR agencies that specialise in that sector. Be sure to pick one that’s right to launch your startup, or you’re no better off than doing it yourself. Good luck!
By Melissa Taylor, Account Executive at Luminous PR.
Luminous PR specialise in providing high-profile media launches for international tech startups.