Guest Posts

11 ways to be awesome at your startup’s PR

press

Getting positive press coverage can be of huge benefit to any company. Copywriter and PR geek, Ash Anand, highlights key elements for achieving earned media for your new startup or business

A key principle of public relations is securing unpaid coverage in the media with the aim of getting brands noticed. It’s a cost-effective way of raising awareness of your product, gives your brand credibility and introduces your company to new potential customers or business partners.

But getting the media’s attention is no easy job. Which is why these important tips will help:

1. Get online

Launching a business without a website is like Homer without Marge, toast without Vegemite and trams without fare-dodgers.

You get the gist. Something’s amiss. If a journalist is going to write about your company, chances are they’ll include a link to your site for their readers. A great product championed by a brilliantly designed website and captivating copy is what will convert browsers into buyers.

A website designer or WordPress can help you with the look and feel, but the copy needs to stand out – after all, what you say and how you say it is what’s going to sell your business to potential customers.

Lots of small business owners make the mistake of writing their websites themselves, but hiring an experienced copywriter will not only make the words leap off the page, thereby engaging readers, but a great content writer can also optimize your site for search engines.

If your site’s easier for Google to find and the copy’s well-written enough to keep customers on the page, the upfront outlay will reap huge rewards for your business in the long run.

2. Prepare a public relations strategy

It’s crucial to have a PR strategy for your brand, clearly identifying your objectives and tactics. Outline a PR plan for the next 12 months, including your:

  • Audience
  • Key messages
  • Communication objectives
  • Spokespeople
  • Media angles, stunts or promotions you have in mind

Your PR strategy should recognize what you want to achieve through the year and exactly how you plan to do it.

Pay specific attention to how you’re going to measure your media success – will it be evaluated in terms of revenue, total Advertising Value Equivalency or a front page story in one of your key media targets?

3. Know your media

A strong media database means you’re going to get your brand noticed by the right people. Be targeted in your approach. Research media that your audience reads, listens or watches and take note of specific sections or programs where journalists cover your field. Online research will also help you find popular bloggers and freelance journalists who write about issues your business relates to.Collate publication names, specific contacts, job titles, phone numbers and emails – and update your list regularly.

4. Seriously, people. Know your media

A media database is only half the story.If you want to launch a product on a particular date or at the start of a specific season, you’ll need to research media lead times. Monthly magazines have longer lead times (roughly 3-4 months in advance) than weekly magazines (4-6 weeks) or daily papers (1 or 2 days).Online news has a very quick turnaround but online features and blogs usually plan well ahead so it pays to do your research before you send your release.

5. Put pen to paper

Journalists are inundated with a gazillion media releases daily so yours needs to stand out. Write your own if you are an excellent wordsmith, otherwise recruit a PR specialist to help. Media releases have a rough formula, based on journalists probably not having enough time to read each one fully. You should write the most important information in the first two paragraphs (the what, why, where, who, when and how), and build on it from there. The copy should be engaging, succinct and flow naturally. Media releases should be no longer than two pages – and that’s with line spacing!

6. Pitch

Follow up calls are crucial after sending out a release to media contacts. Always start by asking your target journalist if they’re free to talk; be friendly and keep your telephone pitches interesting and concise. Think about why the journalist would want to write about your product or company – what’s its USP? Why would their readers want to know about it? Is there a unique backstory about how the product or service came about?

7. Launch tactics

If budget permits, send out samples of your product to key journalists for review. Better still, organise a press launch to network with journalists directly.

8. Get visual

Organize a simple but eye-catching stunt for coverage as a photo in a print publication or even a quick clip on TV news. Alternatively, harness the power of the internet to kick off a creative viral campaign. A clever, unique and engaging YouTube clip can spread the word on your brand in mere moments.

9. Set the news agenda

Get quality coverage of your business by piggy backing off relevant news, timely awareness days or commissioning a survey which piques the interest of editors, as well as being relatable to your field.

10. Get social

Create conversation around your company through social media platforms. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any others – plan what you want to say and when you want to say it. Posting three times a week is a good start but make sure your posts are relevant to your industry and interesting to your followers. Develop a brand tone and voice that suits your audience and make sure your posts have a good mix of product specific updates and other topical and engaging information from across the Net. Promote your social media pages, and ergo, your business, via your contacts, advertising and suggest links are included in any media coverage you secure.

11. Be your brand’s ambassador!

You know your business inside-out so your passion can help you raise awareness of your company. As a knowledgeable and astute spokesperson, you can relay to the media exactly why consumers need your product or service. Be warm, positive and upbeat. Champion your brand at networking engagements and offer to speak at key business events.

Getting a new name out there is hard and fostering a brand that’s trusted and liked by the masses is even harder. But not impossible! With a considered plan, creativity, enthusiasm and time, you can secure excellent exposure for your business.

About our contributor // Ash Anand is a freelance copywriter and PR consultant based in Melbourne. She specializes in lifestyle, consumer, NFP, education and health sectors. Visit www.easteleven.com.au or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Image credit: Freepress

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Interviews

Interview: Melbourne Local, Trevor Young

Melbourne curator/founder Kate Kendall interviews Trevor Young, entrepreneur, writer, speaker and blogger also known as The PR Warrior!

Name: Trevor Young aka ‘The PR Warrior’

Website: trevoryoung.me

Twitter: @trevoryoung

Works at: Edelman Australia + I speak/write/blog

What was your first job?

Apart from stacking ‘clays’ on a dodgy clay pigeon machine at a shotgun shooting range (true story!) … my first ‘real’ job out of school was as a gofer/driver/publicist with ‘Young Talent Time’.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Running a reasonably-sized PR agency of some 16-18 people (along with a business partner), and having a wide variety of clients and short-term projects on the go at any one time – the key challenge was to always have a pipeline full of client prospects; this was particularly difficult when you were personally on many of the accounts in one form or another. Of course this is a perennial issue faced by most professional services firms, especially if you’re always having to pitch for work which is a time-consuming business.

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?

I think locally, Valerie Khoo and the team from Sydney Writers’ Centre are virtually the complete package when it comes to using content and social media to connect with people and build a community of supporters for their brand. I love the fun, humorous and authentic approach Scott Kilmartin takes with his company Haul (for example, he promotes his pet boxer dog Gus as public ambassador for the brand). At the big end of town, Ford in the US has used social media to re-engineer not only the way it markets its brand but also how it designs its cars. In terms of individuals, Mari Smith, Danielle LaPorte, Chris Guillebeau, Gary Vaynerchuk and Problogger Darren Rowse are all showing how you can use content and socially-driven marketing techniques to build your personal brands on a global scale.

You’ve been blogging for a while and recently launched Bloghub.com.au – can you tell us about your publishing journey and what’s the mission behind the new site?

I think ‘journey’ is an apt word because that is what it’s been, lots to learn along the way. PR Warrior – my main blog which I started in mid-2007 – has always been a hub of experimentation, a local base for me professionally; I’m less concerned about attracting big numbers and more interested in building influence, reinforcing credentials and creating conversation around topics I’m interested in. Over time PR Warrior has ticked those boxes but you always need to be tending the ‘blogging’ garden as it were so expect a PR Warrior redesign in coming weeks!

BlogHUB was borne out of a view I held that Australia needed an online ‘heart’ for its emerging blogging movement. While BlogHUB started with a directory plus news and opinion posts and blogger profiles, I think over the next month or so I will pare it back to a more functional directory plus maybe a ‘Blog of the Week’-type profile. I’ve also written a free introductory e-book called ‘The MICRO MAVEN Manifesto’ which will be the forerunner to a new website/online community based around the concept of building a mini-business empire around your personal brand.

Do you classify yourself more as an entrepreneur or a consultant after starting your own agency and getting acquired by one of the big players?

Entrepreneur, definitely. I do consult, that’s largely my gig, but in my heart I’d say I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve started three businesses – two I’ve sold, one I’ve merged with a bigger organisation; I guess I’m just one of those people who is always looking to innovate and do things differently and if that leads to starting a business, then so be it. I must say I hang around lots of entrepreneurial types and do enjoy following their progress as they turn their ideas into reality.

What tips do you have for people looking to build their online presence, be it personal or for a business?

There are two intersecting elements you need to be active in – one, the ongoing creation of content that’s relevant, interesting, original and compelling – if it’s hard for you to tick all of those boxes, then become skilled at filtering information and curating content – become the go-to person for your particular specialist area or niche (or as Edelman’s Steve Rubel likes to say: “separating art from junk in the vast sea of digital content”).

Secondly, get involved – participate, connect – online and offline. Attend events, hold meet-ups, grab coffee with people who you’ve connected with online.

To build your personal brand today, unless you’ve got a TV or radio show, you are going to need to create a platform for your work, your opinions, content and ideas, be it blog-based, a podcast, online video show etc. Chris Brogan has an interesting series going about this that’s worth checking out –> http://www.chrisbrogan.com/platform01/

What’s next?

Getting the new-look PR Warrior and BlogHUB website up and running is my immediate priority, followed by launching ‘The MICRO MAVEN Manifesto’ e-book and accompanying website; I’ve got a few speaking gigs coming up which is nice plus my consulting work and blogging – so enough to keep me out of mischief!

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