July 19, 2012
Startups don’t want to quietly enter the market – they want to do so with a bang. The perfect dose of properly delivered content can certainly fuel the ﬁre, but throw well-timed PR into the mix and the result has potential to be an explosion.
An explosion that causes widespread disruption.
In today’s marketplace, new products are everywhere. The market is saturated with ideas (both good and bad), and, most importantly, opportunities. In order to be disruptive and be the difference that changes the mind of the market, you must not think about selling.
Instead, deliver a solution to an actual problem in the market you’ve identiﬁed as your niche. Focus ﬁrst on ensuring your product is the solution to others’ problems, and build all of your communications around this key message.
PR (when executed well), gives startups widespread visibility. Well, we like to think of it as widespread opportunity – opportunity that has the potential to pay off in a very big way – if, and only if, the message and promise you’ve made to your potential customers is both honest and meaningful.
At Onboardly, we’re conﬁdent we’ve created the ultimate weapon of mass-market disruption. Our step-by-step process has been proven to work:
1. Create an editorial schedule
A solid editorial schedule is the foundation of marrying PR with content. It is rooted in aligning messaging with your sales and advertising efforts. Look at how you can help and who you can help. By focusing your content marketing and PR efforts on one niche area of your product at a time, you’ll be able to clearly provide a rationalization for how and why you solve a problem
your potential customers might be experiencing.
2. Test your messaging
There’s a mathematics side to the coin as well. Before investing signiﬁcant time and energy into pushing content that you believe will be effective, test it. While I certainly wouldn’t suggest toying with people’s emotions, create some compelling headlines that would all be relevant to a speciﬁc article. A/B test those headlines using an inexpensive ad medium (think: Facebook sponsored stories) to see which converts better. Divide your “A” and “B” content between your own company assets (blog, etc) and 3rd party sites.
Here’s where PR and content overlap. Pitch topic ideas to relevant industry publications. If they bite, offer to submit your post as a guest contribution. Chances are they’ve got more trafﬁc than your blog currently has anyway, so take advantage of the lead generation opportunity.
3. Build thought leadership
Because you are the expert on your product, be present everywhere. By appearing on 3rd party sites, you are increasing
exposure and subsequently strengthening the market’s view of your expertise. Think back to solving the market’s problem. If you were in need of help, wouldn’t you go to the most reputable source? Make yourself that source.
4. Build a community from the get-go
Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group said, “Build your network before you need them.” I agree wholeheartedly. PR is about relationships at its core, and that’s both in the traditional sense (media/announcements) and the more modern sense (content promotion).
With effective content and a strong social media presence, startups can engage with the market before they’ve even launched. But engaging is key. Connect with your audience when you have nothing to ask of them and build relationships with media outlets, journalists and editorial sites.
I mentioned opportunities are everywhere. This is your moment to learn your market’s problems, concerns, and needs. By building a community beforehand and creating meaningful relationships (through content that creates value), you are more likely to appear
as a trusted advisor when the time comes to offer your solution. In short, fuel credibility for your brand messaging with a strong online community presence.
Heather Anne Ritchie Co-Founder and resident rock star of brand PR and promotion at Onboardly, where she helps introduce amazing startups to a wide variety of media outlets, inﬂuencers, and networks. Follow Heather on Twitter @heatheranne.
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