PR for Startups
The tech startup scene is becoming more crowded by the day. If you’re a startup looking to shout above the crowd and get to the next stage of your growth journey, then engaging with PR might be for you.
Although PR for Startups might not be at the top of the priority list, history shows that there's significant long-term value in getting your brand name covered in top tier publications.
The likes of Monzo, Coinbase, and Monday.com have all cracked it, and even in the most niche of industries - from eCommerce shipping software to VPN security platforms - Startups have seen a lot of success in investing in scalable PR campaigns.
Because, despite having built a new business from scratch, gained a tonne of new customers, and hiring new employees, PR remains one of the best ways in getting Startups in front of a wider audience and elevate it into the next growth stage.
And in the midst of a Startup boom, with more new technology companies being created every day than ever before, PR campaigns are having to become much more creative to shout above the crowd of noise.
Being heard and seen by a bigger pool of potential customers is becoming difficult for a lot of Startups. Even those that have mountains of cash to pump into Google Advertising or paid media campaigns are being pushed out by the sheer amount of competitors in the same space.
Fortunately for these Startups, well-considered PR strategies can be developed to cut through the noise and put businesses directly in front of target customers that can immediately help grow the business.
Whether you’re looking to build an initial footprint or boost your presence before a round of funding, PR for Startups can be an effective and inexpensive way to boost awareness.
Highly refined media engagement strategies can not only help to raise a business profile, but enhance it to make your business the topic of conversation, and even rub shoulders with competitors much larger in size.
But much like beginning a business, the problem with PR can often be where to start and how to get to where you need to be.
To help, we’ve put together this guide for entrepreneurs and startup businesses looking to get going:
The tech startup scene is becoming more crowded by the day. If you’re a startup looking to shout above the crowd and get to the next stage of your growth journey, then engaging with PR might be for you.
Aside from helping to raise the business’ profile and to give increased presence when businesses are looking to enhance the potential amount raised in capital investment rounds, it’s important that Startups have a well thought-out PR and comms strategy in place.
Although most people think of PR as simply media-facing communications, it also forms a vital part of creating a business proposition that will ultimately showcase why you’re the leading tech company in your market.
Many business leaders see PR as a luxury or dark art, unable to effectively measure the outcomes and ROI of its efforts. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s this disconnect that leads to startups ignoring PR completely, unable to understand its importance and therefore why they should choose to invest in it.
Not only can PR for Startups help boost the brand's profile in competitive markets and help gain attention ahead of investment rounds, but it can also increase backlinks to your website, fuel marketing activity with unique and interesting content, improve SEO by targeting keywords, and help businesses claim the title of "providing something different."
From a media perspective, journalists will be hearing about hundreds if not thousands of tech companies just like yours, so you need to be able to cut through the noise and differentiate yourself.
It’s important then to think of what excites a journalist to write a story in the first place. Journalists won’t write a story because you’ve launched a new website, opened a new office, or released a product update.
They might, however, if you have unique data-based insight to share or have just launched a truly innovative, never seen before product or service.
The key to earning media coverage is in how you tell the story. Why did your business start? What challenges is it aiming to solve? Who will benefit? Why is it different from the rest? How will it change the life of everyday users/ consumers?
You possibly have answers to all of these questions already, but you need to be able to take them to the media and spread the good word to new audiences that would be interested in hearing more about what your business has to offer.
Only when you’ve built out your own story can you then start to engage with the wider conversation.
Although utilising marketing and SEO channels can help reach new audiences, the two can’t help build trust in your business like PR does - important when establishing a new business.
Trust in a business is created by delivering time and time again to your customers - just as you said you would. But building a trusted brand in the eyes of leads and prospects takes a different strategy - third-party endorsements gained from top-tier media publications and journalists.
In a world where information is at our fingertips - some of which we know can be false and unverified - we are relying heavily on reviews, customer feedback and authentic media outlets to tell us who we should trust.
It’s the reason why PR for Startups can be ten times more effective than any paid-for or branded content in the buying cycle. How else would you believe a company you’ve never heard of before?
It’s not easy building brand awareness and trust for startups, which is why building an effective PR campaign takes time and a lot of skill.
But you can take faith in the likes of Monzo, Zoom, and Deliveroo which all utilised PR early on in their growth stage to build a presence and dominate the media conversation. It’s no coincidence that every single one of these is now considered a powerhouse in their own industry.
But what about the lesser-known brands? Having created a new VPN to bring to market, security software startup Appstractor engaged in a PR programme as the new product neared its official beta launch date.
Wanting to increase its online visibility and sign ups to the beta program, Appstractor undertook a content-driven campaign addressing the problem of cyber security for small and medium sized businesses.
Having created a market research report on the state of cyber security and the impact on small businesses, the PR programme placed a series of articles for placement in top media titles which included links back to the website.
Topline benefits after just four months included:
Deciding when to engage with PR is always a tough decision. While many think it’s down to what stage of growth the business is in, it actually doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band or 100-people strong.
What matters is that you have the correct support channels set up to deal with increases in interest, contacts and leads. The main priority is your biggest sales person - the website.
PR has evolved, gearing itself more towards the greater online impact over traditional hardcopy media coverage. As a result, your business’ website has become the cornerstone to any campaign and the foundation for what results should be measured on.
One of the biggest advantages to this has been in the area of PR measurement. Armed with analytics tools, PR programmes are now able to dive into benefits that go far beyond just coverage numbers. From presenting the number of backlinks created and identifying sources of referral traffic, to showing the user journey on the website and the impact on leads generated, PR can now confidently prove its ROI.
When engaging with PR for Startup services, you need to understand and define the core business objective before engaging. But whether you’re looking to officially launch a new business, a new product, or enter a new market/ territory, PR can help.
The main objective is to raise brand awareness among a widened group of prospects - a tricky thing to do with so many new competitors entering the market.
The key is to focus on the USP of the business and figuring out what attracts customers to you over your competitors. Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day pitching in new business, products, and services, so they need to know why they should cover your story over another one.
As a brand new business, you might think that now isn’t the right time to engage with PR because you haven’t got an extensive list of news stories coming down the pipeline, such as new big-brand customers, partners, or case studies.
But that’s where proactive PR comes in. Rather than waiting around for news to try and react to and relying on your own success, PR should also be about creating unique stories that can spark a completely different conversation than the one before.
There are many different ways you can do this - such as undertaking a market research project or highlighting a newsjacking opportunity. Journalists love opinions on topical stories, which is why thought leadership articles remain one of the most popular ways to raise awareness and build trust in your brand.
If you’re still struggling to produce news of your own, then take a look at the wider news agenda to see where your business can contribute to the conversation. For example, when it comes towards the end of the calendar year, a lot of editors are looking to receive comments on the upcoming trends and forecasts for the new year.
This can be a perfect opportunity to showcase your expertise in your market. By using your business’ proposition and a lot of the questions and comments you receive by your prospective customers, you can create a short comment on a couple of new-year trends that can be pitched to the media.
The benefits of PR for Startups should always outweigh the costs, but if you’re still unsure if you’re ready to engage than here are a few milestones which should help you make up your mind:
And if you’re still not sure, then ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer to all of those questions is a resounding ‘Yes’, then it’s time to start engaging with a PR agency.
Whereas Marketing can be your best tool to utilise the website, branded content and online advertising, it does little in the way of building trust - primarily because it’s coming from your own voice.
On the other hand, third-party endorsement by top tier journalists and media publications are valuable proof points for customers who are considering your business in the buying cycle. These endorsements can prove especially important if you’re a young, fledgling business.
PR’s ability to establish trust is unrivalled, but it can also be easily neglected. Many hold the view that PR is a vanity project and something which can’t be measured as accurately as marketing and advertising campaigns.
Startups in particular can view PR as a large expenditure and therefore a tool for more established businesses, large enterprises, or top entrepreneurs looking to boost their egos.
But none of these could be further from the truth. When used correctly and efficiently, PR can be a powerful tool that can have long-term impacts on the business.
There are three advantages in particular that startups can benefit from PR:
One of the biggest advantages of PR is that you can make a big splash about a new product or campaign to attract media attention, and there’s nothing more attractive to a journalist than hearing about a new business that could become the new game-changer.
By speaking to journalists about your new proposition, not only are you creating positive and potentially long-lasting relationships with key press contacts, but you’re getting your brand name out to the masses.
Compared to account-based marketing campaigns, PR is the complete opposite. While still being targeted towards your potential customers, the aim is to get your business in front of as many people as possible - be it thousands of people reading an industry publication or millions from a respected national newspaper.
Aside from getting eyes on your brand, building trust can be one of the toughest parts to building a company from scratch. But with the right focus on communicating the company proposition and USP, this can help gain coverage and cut through the noise in your chosen industry.
Getting named in an article alongside long-standing large enterprises provides readers with the reassurance that you are a serious player in the market, so research where your competitors are getting media coverage and what your potential audience is reading.
When done right, the PR programme will help build trust with journalists over time which will keep the momentum running. By targeting top tier media publications that have a dedicated readership in your industry, you can create a feeling of trust with your prospects and influence their decision in the B2B buying cycle.
Some see PR as an easy job to do, in fact it is an incredibly difficult skill that requires specialist resources, tenacity, a thick skin and years of expertise to get right. This skilled profession is partly why some might see it as an expensive service to engage in, and why it’s all the more important to make any PR activity as impactful as possible.
PR professionals are natural storytellers, which means any content created should also be used to amplify existing marketing campaigns. For example, a blog or opinion article on upcoming industry trends can be expanded to create a more in-depth eBook that is made available on your website, while a the data resulting from independent research can be used in an infographic or to be part of a short media pitch or a headline in a press release to send to journalists.
But it works both ways too. If you’ve just received some media coverage in a high-level media publication, publish a social media post to shout about the great news to your followers. Or, if you’ve just written a short media comment, try expanding the piece into a blog that can be used to target keywords your prospects are searching for in Google.
One of the biggest questions we get asked when engaging with PR for Startups is “How do you measure (or prove) the effectiveness of PR?”
If you would have asked that question five-to-ten years ago, you may have received a very different answer - one based on calculating Advertising Value Equivalency or simply the number of clippings per month. These are outputs and do nothing to show impact.
PR has changed. In the digital age, PR has become a lot closer to marketing, familiarising itself with the digital tools that provide tangible information used to back up investments and efforts.
As PR pros now have a better grasp on SEO techniques and tools such as Google Analytics, it’s opened up new possibilities to track, measure, and analyse PR programmes to gain new insights and reach better results.
For those Startups asking how PR can be measured, there are three areas in particular to pay attention to:
Tracking the amount of coverage your business receives on a monthly basis is a good way of measuring momentum, but that should mean sacrificing quality over quantity. It is a stronger argument to defend coverage in five industry relevant publications as opposed to 500 on random websites with little or no relevance or readership.
It can also help provide insight into what forms of content publications prefer receiving. For example, press releases are very good at sharing and getting news covered in several publications at once, but bylined thought leadership articles can provide a more detailed view on a trending topic that is also at the top of the mind of your prospects.
Quantity isn’t everything. It’s wise to research which publications are going to provide the best quality to the business, and therefore campaign. While national titles can provide a much bigger potential audience, remember not just to rely on readership numbers alone as a targeted industry publication is much more likely to be seen and welcomed than a mention buried in a national newspaper.
One of the benefits of Digital PR is the additional metrics that can be measured to provide benefits more than just building brand awareness and trust - one of which can fuel and strengthen the website.
By placing articles and news stories in publications, you can increase the chances of media websites including hyperlinks back to your own website so readers can find further information. What’s more, by providing follow links, your website will grow in strength and increase the likelihood of being found at the top of search results pages over your competitors.
And, as media publications are typically some of the most powerful in the eyes of Google, you can track the Domain Authority of your website over time to see a gradual increase in performance thanks to the PR programme.
One of the biggest issues PR used to have is that there was simply no way of knowing how many people read your article in a magazine or newspaper and then went on to become a buyer. But not any more.
Thanks to targeted backlinking strategies and the use of analytical tools to measure referral traffic, PR programmes can now provide insight into how many people were directed to your website - and even if they became a lead or customer.
Plus, as more people read about your brand, they’re likely to Google your name or head directly to the website. So by measuring the amount of coverage generated per month or certain spikes in activity such as press launches, it’s also possible to link PR efforts to increases in web traffic.
Whether it’s your first or tenth time engaging, finding the right PR company for Startups can always seem like a daunting task. PR is still widely seen as a bit of a ‘dark art’ when it comes to proving its impact on the bottom line, but also in what advantages it can provide.
This has led to many ignoring PR as a possible solution at the outset. Either they simply don’t know when they are getting a raw deal from their PR campaigns or see it as an expensive option that provides long-term benefits over short-term ones.
But as more and more Startups are looking beyond the traditional pain points and employing Digital PR agencies to run their campaigns, it’s important to understand exactly what they’re paying for and what the advantages are.
One of the biggest benefits is creating, growing, and cementing a Startup’s brand awareness and brand trust in the eyes of its potential audience. When done right, PR can help spread the brand’s name much further and wider than any other marketing channel as well as place it as a serious consideration in the eyes of a buyer.
Aside from these two main benefits, PR for Startups can help strengthen the power of your best salesperson - the website - as well as track the amount of web traffic received from readers and what they do when they get there.
When looking to start with PR, ask yourself what success looks like. Is it purely to gain traction in the media and gain brand awareness, or is it to create a powerful backlinking programme that can help fuel the website? Are there any monthly, measurable targets that can be put in place?
It doesn’t have to take a rocket to get your PR off the ground. By getting everyone on board and setting out the right goals and measurement tools, you can make sure you get the best results possible.
So you’ve built, or helped build, a new business from scratch. You’ve become incredibly successful and gained a tonne of new customers in a short space of time.
But with so much competition vying for the same space, how do you shout above the crowd and get your business in front of more potential customers?
When you reach out to us to schedule a time to learn more about our services, you won’t be inundated with endless phone calls and emails from eager sales reps. Instead, you’ll talk to David, one of our PR Directors.
You'll chat briefly about your business, your goals and your challenges - and we'll arrange a further call if you think we might be a good fit for you. It’s your call!
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