Every startup seems to spend massive amounts of time and money on marketing, but few give public relations the attention it deserves.
Marketing is absolutely invaluable, but in today’s society, consumers see hundreds, perhaps thousands, of marketing campaigns everyday. Unless you have the budget of Google, it’s really hard to stand out. Press, on the other hand, comes from an independent source that people trust. Therefore, people are more likely to believe it.
Of course, there are PR companies out there like Fifth Avenue Brands or publicize.co that can help you get press for a hefty price, but there are also steps you can take to get press without an extensive network of media contacts and reporters.
Here are four simple steps to get press for your startup:
Do Your Research
Reporters are busy people. They are all balancing dozens of leads trying to find the next big story. Plus, not everybody is a good fit to write about your business. That’s why it is important to do your research and find reporters who are good fits for you.
Don’t just email every single reporter you can find. Be discerning. Only give the story to someone who might actually write about it. This will save you time because you won’t have so many contacts to follow up with, and more importantly, you won’t be wasting the reporter’s time!
This will ensure you have the highest chance of getting your press release in the hands of the right person.
Keep It Short
The first time I tried to get press for a company I was working with, I crafted a beautiful two-page press release with intricate designs and formatting and sent it off to the reporters I thought would pick it up. Needless to say, this didn’t get me anywhere.
Like I said before, reporters are busy people. That is why it is important to keep your press releases short and concise. Here are two quick guidelines: no more than two paragraphs, and put your message in the body of the email; don’t attach it.
A good press release should tell the reporter a couple things: who you are, what you are doing, why they should care, and where to get more information.
Your email should be nice and short—just long enough to pique their interest. Then link them to the press page on your website for all the info they need. The email is simply an elevator pitch. Your job is to get their attention and start the conversation.
If you haven’t noticed by now, the theme here is that reporters are busy. They’re so busy that a lot of the time they are not going to respond to your first email. This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, it just means that you have to follow up and bump your message to the top of their inbox.
A simple message like, “ I just wanted to bump this to the top of your inbox” or something like, “I just wanted to follow up about XYZ” is perfect. Just something to keep yourself relevant. A huge portion of getting press is persistence. You just need to keep at it and stay relevant.
Not every story or scoop you have is going to make front page news, especially in a busy news week. You might get overshadowed by something Donald Drumpf says or another major event. Don’t be afraid to give the reporters a new story every couple weeks, keeping them up to date on new developments and constantly relating these developments to trends in the industry or other major themes that could get their attention.
Obviously, everyone wants to get featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, or the Wall Street Journal, but very few people start in these kinds of publications. You have to start small. The more small time press you get, the easier it is to get into larger publications.
Often times, your local paper is starved for excitement and is really interested in the next big thing coming out of your hometown. This is the ideal place to start as reporters often have fewer leads and are more interested in what you have to tell them.
Getting press in a major outlet like Forbes is like climbing a staircase, you need to start small and work your way up, beginning with your local paper and then successively larger outlets. As long as you find the right contacts, stay organized, follow up and remember that getting press doesn’t happen over night, you are on your way to getting attention for your business and getting the word out to the broadest audience.
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Ben Weimer is a student at Penn and a social media and digital marketing consultant with a passion for entrepreneurial education. After working in technical roles at NASA and SAIC, coding for 8 hours a day, he decided to make the transition to more active roles as a founder and marketer. He is an avid chef and a traveler, committed to empowering the students of today with the education they need to be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.