10 PR Tips for Startups – Part 1

August 19, 2010

1:14 pm

This is the first part of a two part post by Sarah Hardwick, Founder & CEO of Zenzi Communications.

Starting a business is challenging enough, let alone managing the ins and outs of PR to successfully promote your product or service. Here are the first 5 easy tips to help you through this process, and get your startup the attention and exposure it deserves!

1. Be Focused & Strategic. It is crucial to have a clearly defined message and to be strategic with all forms of communication. Create a strategic plan, or road map, to guide the process with an outline of goals, objectives and tactics, along with a timeline for announcements that will set the framework for a consistent flow of ideas and messages to reach your target audiences.  Touchpoints in the plan may include announcing new products, commentary on trends, awards, etc. Make a big splash by choosing a newsworthy announcement to approach reporters with the first time and make sure you are prepared with talking points and answers to potentially tough questions that reporters would ask about your startup.

2. Identify Your Target Audience. Start by determining a target audience that is most important and applicable to communicate with, in order to reach your short-term goals.  For example, if you are totally focused on finding investors, research who those investors are and track down the publications, communities and social media with which they are engaging, and connect with them through those specific channels.  Start by following the investors and reporters on Twitter.  Identify media that feature startups such as TECH cocktail, TechCrunch, Inc. Magazine, and Entrepreneur.  At a certain point as your company grows, it might make sense to target top tier media, such as CNN, The Today Show or The New York Times, but don’t focus on trying to pitch a story to big national media outlets when it could be far more beneficial to generate coverage through local or trade media outlets.  It all comes down to your business goals and objectives, and going after the audience of influencers that will help you achieve those goals.

3. Research Media. Make sure to thoroughly research any media contact you are reaching out to.  Know their deadlines and preferred contact methods, as well as the beats they report on and past article topics they’ve written.  Only send information relevant to the topics the reporter covers. There are a few ways to annoy a reporter but the easiest is probably to send them completely irrelevant information they would never have any interest in covering.

4. Follow AP Style. Always follow AP Style when drafting materials for journalists, such as press releases, pitches, media advisories or backgrounders/boilerplates. This is the Associated Press standard writing style and rules that all journalists use. Making your materials print-ready will put you on the right foot with the journalist, make you look professional, and save them time.

5. Online Services. Utilizing free or low-cost press release wire distribution services can be useful for SEO purposes and reaching a broad media audience, but you still need to strategically contact the reporters you want to communicate with directly.  Another great free online service is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Signing up for HARO is easy and allows you to monitor media requests specific to your industry. Tip: reply to only the most applicable queries and be very concise with the text of the pitch.

Read part two of this post and get the next 5 PR Tips for Startups next Thursday.

Zenzi - Be Known Be Found

Zenzi Communications bridges the gap between traditional media-focused and digital agencies with an integrated approach that delivers bottom line results. If your goal is to increase exposure and market share, break into new industries, find investors or generate qualified leads, Zenzi can help you BE KNOWN and BE FOUND.  For more information: www.zenzi.com or follow them on Twitter @ZenziBEknown.

Disclosure: In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, we are disclosing that TECH cocktail is a client of Zenzi and they are one of our preferred partners.

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Sarah is the founder and CEO of Zenzi, a PR and marketing firm whose mission is to help companies “Be Known” and “Be Found.” The name Zenzi means crescendo, and since 2002, Sarah has successfully created a similar effect for clients including Nestle, Chiquita Brands, Dreyer’s/ Edy’s Ice Cream, Hilton Hotels, SpeedDate.com, Tech Cocktail and more.

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