Nowadays, the startup ecosystem is becoming saturated with millions of new companies launching each year. Consequently, keeping your enterprise in the media spotlight requires much more than simply sending press releases and guest articles. PR is a gradual process and waiting for a guest contribution to be published on a leading publication can take up to two months. But fear not, while you are waiting for an announcement to gain traction, or simply don’t have any news at that time, you can still communicate and interact with the media in a variety of other ways.
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So, what do you do if you don’t have a real announcement to make or a world-changing insight to give? Instead of pitching un-newsworthy stories like your upcoming 2-4-1 offer, your newest hire of Dave in marketing, or you latest endeavour on Kickstarter, why not spend your time interacting with the media in a way which will really bring in results.
These days, Mark Zuckerberg only has to sneeze and a slew of articles will come out – some will be positive, others negative, but all will acknowledge how powerful a sneeze it was. Unfortunately, very few entrepreneurs can boast of this kind of media presence — and they have to build it slowly, from the ground up. This article explains just how this can achieved.
1. A founder interview lets you tell your story
People want to know the story behind a startup. The fact that you jacked in your 9-5 and set out to follow your dreams already makes you pretty interesting. Getting your founder story out there and sharing your entrepreneurial experiences also means that Googling your name won’t bring up that Skiathos 2008 booze cruise.
A huge number of publications feature founder interviews. Entrepreneurial communities also want to hear your success stories, your tips and how-tos. This is an area where you really are an expert, so why not share your experiences.
Medium-sized publications such as Alltopstartups and SuperbCrew accept contributions and have large social media followings that they share each story with. Alternatively, team up with your PR strategist to get your story out there on even larger publications.
2. Get involved with the entrepreneurial community
A natural extension of the interview or founder story is the provision of insights in the form of short quotes that can be incorporated into larger articles. This could be anything from sharing your top productivity hacks, or how to go about forming a business plan and raising capital, to more niche insights that specifically relate to your industry.
A number of publications frequently publish stories of this nature, allowing you to get coverage and support a growing community of entrepreneurs. By providing insights you are also helping writers to understand your world, and you are providing useful content that makes their lives that little bit easier.
The YEC frequently contributes articles such as this on sites including The Next Web, Forbes and Huffington Post. If you aren’t sure how to get involved crowdsourcing solutions, such as HARO (Help a reporter out), connect journalists with experts and can be a good way for you to get coverage with minimal effort.
As you become more connected with this community you should also be active when it isn’t your company under the spotlight. Interacting on sites like Product Hunt can help to further this. Backing this all up with some good old-fashioned face-to-face networking, attending industry events and conferences, will also make you that much more memorable.
3. Conduct industry and audience research
Investigating the market through conducting research and sharing your results is not only beneficial to your business, it also gives you something very valuable to share with the media.
This could be in the form of a basic survey of your clients, and analysis of the findings. You could wrap this all up in a white-paper, an infographic, or even use it as the basis for your next thought leadership article.
Explorations into trends that are backed up with smart analytics can be powerful tools that help you tell a story. Combining industry insights with hard data is gold, and a clever visualization can be even more engaging. If you have the finance to commission the study – check out VentureBeat’s cover of SAP Hybris’ exploration in marketing tactics – that’s great, but a simple analysis of data that might be closer to hand can be just as compelling.
4. Submit your service or app for a product review
Take a risk, if you have full confidence in your app it’s really not a risk at all. Submitting your app or product to be reviewed on sites such as CNET, Killer Startups, or even more niche sites is another great way to get additional coverage. These platforms allow you to reach people who are already interested in your product or industry, and you also benefit from an expert write-up.
You can even do this during the beta phase, Betalist will review your product as long as it is still in the invite-only beta stage and not only give you valuable feedback but also puts your name in front it’s audience of over 25,000+ early adopters.
5. Maintain a relationship with journalists
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a relationship with the media is a one-way road. Providing a journalist with a meaty story of course benefits them, but remember the hundreds of pitches they receive every day. You want to stand out, and this means playing the long-game.
Connect with local news reporters and journalists that cover your industry. Read their articles and follow them on social media. Share their posts and interact with them, though be warned, this doesn’t mean hijacking their posts with links to your website. Set up Google news alerts to keep on top of breaking trends and see if they have an editorial calendar so that when the time comes you can be ready to offer up valuable insights that relate to those stories.
You can also help them out in other ways. If you get a lead for a potential story, something that may not have anything to do with you – though ideally not the ultimate demise of your largest competitor – share it with them.
Laying these foundations will help you to form a stronger relationship, this means when the time comes to make your big announcement you will be in the best position to reach out with this news.
PR is a long-term process, you won’t always be launching, pivoting, partnering or raking in the funding, but this doesn’t mean you need to be silent either. Keeping up the momentum, even in the down-times, using simple techniques like these means you can stay connected with media and grow your profile.
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