3 PR Tips for Every Startup

Okay, so you’ve graduated from your accelerator and you even managed to get a little press from demo day. Congrats! But the truth is, more people need to know about your startup. It’s not as simple as the movie says “if you build it, they will come” (that’s from Field of Dreams kids). So now what?

In his book User Acquisition for Hackers: A Complete, Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Traction, Austen Allred writes, “There’s nothing a startup (or any company) needs quite as much as press. It brings in traffic and users/customers, social validation and legitimacy all at the same time. Those are things it’s hard to get enough of.”

In other words: you need good PR. We all do. With that in mind, here are three pointers for getting valuable PR for your startup on a consistent basis.

1. Build Relationships
It should go without saying, but journalists are people too. So a good first step is getting to know them! Find out who is covering entrepreneurship in your area, and connect with them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or by e-mail. If you can find reporters who focus specifically on your niche, even better.

Whatever you do, though, don’t wait until you need press coverage to reach out. As Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures reminds us, it pays to be proactive. “Think about who else is in your space,” he says. “When you’ve got that list together, just individually e-mail as many of them as you can. Just introduce yourself and offer yourself up as a resource.” This way you’re not simply asking them for a favor; you’re making yourself useful, and that kind of attitude can go a long way.

2. Start Small
While it’s tantalizing to visualize your startup featured in TechCrunch or in Mashable – and yes, it’s totally possible to get there – at the beginning you should focus on gaining traction on smaller tech blogs and in your local market.

Austen Allred proposes thinking in terms of a “”Press Pyramid”:http://austenallred.com/user-acquisition/book/chapter/press/.” The first level of the pyramid consists of these kinds of outlets: “the hobbyist with a decent following, the small tech blog just getting started, and the small companies doing what they can to pay the bills with a little traffic and some well-placed Adsense ads.” Next are “mid-tier” tech blogs, followed by industry-specific blogs.

Once you’ve garnered publicity in blogs and publications on the lower levels of the pyramid, you’ll be much more likely to get the attention of writers at TechCrunch and other outlets at the top. That’s because the first thing a reporter at a major outlet will do when considering your pitch is to Google you and your startup. If no one else has taken notice of you, why should they?

3. Work the Angles
In order for a media outlet to cover your launch, your product, or your latest milestone, you’ll need to identify an angle they and their readers will find compelling. Reporters get pitched all the time, so you have to show why a story about your startup would be different.

Be prepared for different outlets to latch on to different aspects of what you’re doing. Say you’re launching a health app. Your local business journal and a national health magazine may both cover it – but they’ll cover it for very different reasons. Think about the various audiences that will be interested in what you’re up to and pitch different outlets accordingly.

“Bounce ideas off of others, try to figure out all of the different ways that your company is interesting, so that you can divide and conquer,” O’Donnell says. “If the only story is that you got funded, that’s not as interesting for 25 reporters to cover versus each of them covering something uniquely crafted for their audience and interest.”

Those are just three of the most important things to keep in mind. For more, we encourage you to read Austen Allred’s book and check out Charlie O’Donnell’s other tips. As you pursue PR opportunities for your startup, remember: no one owes you media coverage, but with dedication and hard work, good PR is well within reach.