Marketing Bootcamp

How to Be Your Own PR Machine

How to Be Your Own PR Machine
Image credit: Official GDC | Flickr

Join us for a free, live webinar and learn how to drive revenue with content marketing. Tune in 8/4 at 10:30 a.m. PT. Register Now »

Although some startups prefer the mystery of “stealth mode,” for most new ventures press is an invaluable way to increase brand awareness and acquire new customers.

At my group travel startup Travefy, we direct a significant amount of time and energy to cultivating strategies to get our name and brand out there and in front of as many people -- or potential users -- as possible.

From guest posts to press pages to outreach strategies and more, here are some key tips to becoming a PR machine.

1. Make writing about you easy.

Press coverage can make or break a young company, but publications can’t write about you unless you make information about your startup easily accessible.

Related: Pitch Perfect: 4 Steps to Capture the Media's Attention

One simiple step is to keep an up-to-date and organized "Press Information" page on your company’s website, which should include all of the information a writer would ever need to cover your company without actually connecting with you: a company and product description, product images, a video explainer and links to all past press coverage as well as contact information for further information.

To further simplify this process, there are many great plugin tools that exist like Totem.

2. Be an expert (at putting yourself out there).

Own your expertise! As an entrepreneur you have without a doubt built a certain level of domain knowhow no matter your industry or product.

You should absolutely use this to your advantage and put yourself out there to reporters, bloggers and others as a reliable and responsive source. This has the benefit of repping your brand and also building real press relationships beyond simply pushing your product for reviews and coverage.

Look for great resources that help link experts and the press like HARO or Reporter Connection.

3. Send blind emails but be strategic!

As basic as it may sound, direct blind emails go a long way and can be a powerful method to introduce yourself and connect with members of the press.

With that said, be strategic and never simply “spam” writers with stock email messages. They receive hundreds of emails daily and the only way to truly stand out is to be authentic.

Reach out only to writers you actively read and “know,” who cover your sector and who would conceivably cover you. Moreover, it is crucial to tailor and personalize your emails to them. Nothing will get your email into the trash bin faster than stock messaging.

4. Build real relationships, not transactional ones.

You are also likely to meet members of the press in person at industry conferences, meetups and elsewhere. Just as you shouldn’t be sending stock emails to strangers, you should be trying to build authentic bonds with those you meet in person.

A great way to get ahead is to focus on the relationship rather than the PR, especially when the connection is new. Share regular updates, ask questions and don’t always push for (or ask for) coverage.

The coverage will come naturally when relevant and the writer’s in-depth knowledge of you and your product will make that coverage even more valuable.  

Related: The 6 Worst Press-Release Topics That Startups Pitch

5. Why wait? Write yourself!

Beyond even professional press, you can be a PR machine and newsmaker yourself.

A great way to get your voice heard and brand out there is as a guest writer. Simply offer guest blog posting services to relevant industry related blogs or look to larger forums that accept outside writers.

Remember though, for the most positive effects from your writing (and to be published) the topics should be interesting, relevant, helpful and not about your company specifically.

6. Make news and put out press releases.

Another way to be a self-made newsmaker is to publish regular press releases.

Publishing your own press releases is cost effective and helps you control the narrative of what information is disseminated about your company. Whether it’s an investment, a new hire a product release or more, you’re in control.

There are many great online tools for publishing press release that also help with distribution, including PRWeb and PR Newswire among others.

7. Make yourself newsworthy!

And lastly, constantly strive to make yourself newsworthy! Keep doing and building awesome things. Without a doubt, the coverage will follow.

Related: Why You Should Rethink Using a PR Firm