Having a great PR strategy is something that can feel daunting to many entrepreneurs when they’re just getting started. Does it have to just be a press release? What if the things your startup is doing aren’t really press worthy? How can you still leverage the important channels of media outreach to gain more support and eyes for your business?
I had the opportunity to interview Zoe Weisburg Coady, the entrepreneurial co-founder of BrandStyle Communications in New York, to ask her how she feels entrepreneurs can leverage other opportunities for press outside of the traditional press release. She shared her seven best tips from her years of vast expertise helping brands make a big splash in the media.
1. Tune into the right channel
Determine the right social-media channels for your company and establish a consistent tone and personality on each of them. The best Instagram pages I’ve seen from companies are not blatantly promotional but organically present the "lifestyle" of the brand. Make sure your brand voice comes through in all your outlets of media, even if they’re social media facing.
2. Do your homework on competition
Track and analyze your competitors' press coverage and be sure to connect and establish relationships with the media yourself in any way you can. A relationship with a journalist is a two-way street. Establish yourself as an authentic and credible source and regularly update your press contacts on market trends and industry news.
Don’t just get in touch when you want them to cover your brand. That’s a pretty transparent relationship and journalists don’t like it any more than you would.
3. Who’s your dream team?
Identify your dream media outlets and the story you want to tell. If you want a business profile on your company in a national newspaper, what’s the story you need to tell to get you there? Very rarely do you see "evergreen" articles on companies -- there’s always a relevant news hook. You should constantly ask, “Why should media cover this now vs. three months from now?” That can help you with formulating a newsworthy angle.
4. You have to talk
You get the most business done by picking up the phone or meeting face to face. Email, professional networking sites, social media, etc., are all great, but those should only serve to get you the phone calls or face time you need with media sources. You’ll find you accomplish a lot more and get better, critical feedback by talking.
5. Get your pitch down pat
You have no excuse for not knowing your "elevator pitch" perfectly. If you can’t clearly and simply explain what your company does in two sentences, you need to modify your message, because the press won’t be able to explain your story either. Your clients won't either for that matter!
6. Go offline
Attending the right conferences can be invaluable for networking opportunities. Be selective with what you attend and familiarize yourself with panelist, attendees and event sponsors before you go so you’re prepared to connect onsite. Post-conference follow-up is also critical. Contacts are more likely to connect after meeting in person, so work your contacts after you meet and in a timely, authentic manner.
7. Know what PR is and does
Understand the role and value of PR. PR is different from marketing and advertising and it delivers different results. The companies that get the most out of working with a PR firm fully understand the function and role PR plays in the big-picture communications strategy. Think quality vs. quantity when targeting media -- the most personalized, relevant approach always wins.
There are many PR activities that play a key role in meaningful campaigns -- pitches and press releases are one example but there are many others -- influencer initiatives, partnerships, thought-leadership platforms, charitable programs, brand activations, special events, etc., that should be taking place to set your company apart.
Related: How to Get PR for Your Startup