You’ve launched an amazing product or service. Now what? Now, you need to get the word out.
But you’re on a budget and can’t afford the $10K a month to hire a fancy agency and put out press releases. That’s fine. You’re better off executing you’re on strategy or hiring a really awesome consultant.
When done well, good PR can be much more effective and less expensive than advertising. For cost-conscious businesses, ROI is crucial. Every penny spent on marketing should generate revenue. PR is no different. Here are the steps you should take to form a successful strategy for your business:
LET GO OF THE AGENCY ALLURE
The sad truth about PR is that existing process are broken. They’re outdated, costly, and inefficient.
- Many agencies are still buying very expensive ‘media lists’ and blasting our press releases and pitches to hundreds of journalists at a time.
- It’s hard for the PR industry to track and measure the value of what they do.
- Press release blasts entirely miss the mark on target audiences.
At Lean Startup Machine Weekend, part of my team’s exercise was to interview journalists about their experience with PR pitches. They all said that 90 percent of the sometimes hundreds of pitches they get a day are spam; totally irrelevant to what they write about.
JANE BOLAND, PR consultant via American Express OPEN Forum
To succeed with PR, you need to focus less on the appeal of an agency and focus more heavily to focus on results. Prioritize what you want to achieve, not outdated ‘best practices.’ If you want to get in front of journalists, for instance, you are likely better off forming 1:1 relationships than bombarding them with irrelevant pitches.
KNOW WHEN PRESS RELEASES ARE WORTH IT
A press release is worthwhile if your announcement is over-the-top catchy and newsworthy. But here’s the thing — most press releases read like giant sales pitches. If you think that journalists and publishers are going to be attracted to lukewarm content, guess again. They’re not. They don’t care. Their email inboxes fill up with 100s of spam messages again.
We hate to say it but marketers — get your head out of the clouds. The world does not revolve around your business, and journalists could care less about what you have to say.
If your goal is to get targeted placements for your brand, you will be better off cultivating a unique and thoughtful pitch in your area of specialty. A press release won’t cut it. Position your organization as a valuable, reliable, and trustworthy source of information instead.
FOCUS ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS AND MAKING CONNECTIONS
The problem with PR is ‘spray and prey’ or ‘broadcast’ mentality. If you shout at journalists with a megaphone, they’re not going to listen.
Above all, journalists care about compelling stories. They want to hear about your founders’ emotional journeys. They want to know what problem your company is solving and what motivates your team to wake up and come to work in the mornings.
Treat journalists like trusted business partners, not eyeballs. Develop a conversation. Let them ask questions.
Know your 2-4 stories in and out. Hustle hard for the small, one-off mentions. These usually come as a result of work done on the business development and partnerships side of things.
HEATHER ANNE CARSON, PR expert & co-founder at Onboardly
STRATEGIC PLANNING WINS THE RACE
Every so often, you’ll come across startups that generate insane amounts of traction on almost zero budget. You might think that it’s the outcome of luck — most likely, that isn’t the case. The more likely scenario is careful, strategic planning. WIth online media, Hollywood success stories are few and far between. Behind the scenes, marketers are hard at work — building key relationships with key stakeholders.
COLLABORATE WITH OTHER BUSINESSES
Content marketing means that brands are becoming publishers and building their own audience bases. Companies, like you, are looking to connect with key audiences through PR and distribution.
DESCRIPTION OF GOALS:
HYPOTHESIS:We wanted to extend the reach of the entire brand in the most focused and impactful way possible.
- In deciding where to spend our time and efforts, we had to choose between focusing on getting featured by the major tech outlets and the more creative road less travelled. We chose the road less travelled.
- We decided to focus on entrepreneurs and highly respected business leaders to amplify the value of our own content creation by offering their wisdom to our audience. And thus was born our video interview series.
METHODOLOGY:We suspected that entrepreneurs and leadership influencers had a more powerful reach than major tech outlets. Note the word “powerful”. Why bother getting in front of people who would have no use for 15Five? We wanted to get in front of people who would actually care. We suspected these influencers would open us up to a more targeted audience than TechCrunch, for example.
- We knew that their audiences were potentially a hole-in-one fit and we wouldn’t have the problem of being drowned out in the real-time news feeds of the major tech blogs.
RESULTS:We wanted to “influence the influencers” so to speak, so we started with the people we look up to most in the industry. We identified the people that inspired us the most.
- Of course, people like Simon Sinek, Chip Conley, etc. came to mind. We reached out to them, told them what we are all about, explained why we love what they are doing and asked them if they’d be open to sharing their insights with our community. When the interviews went live, they would want to promote them as much as we would. It is a win-win-win (us, them, our community).
DATA:So far, we’ve released the interview with Simon Sinek.
We have more interviews both produced and schedule, but we’re really just getting started.
- Simon’s interview is found in is our 5th most visited page of all time.
- We had just started our blog in April, which is when the Simon Sinek post was published. It quickly received over 1,000 pageviews. In fact, it was so successful given the “newness” of our blog that we wrote a follow up blog post about the topics discussed by Simon Sinek in the interview. That post received almost identical results. Between the two posts, visitors stayed for an approximate average of 4 minutes, which is well above average for the blog (approximately 3 minutes). The interview video itself has received over 3,500 views in total to date. And in the time since, we’ve honed our technical process and solidified our interview format into one that is potent, original and increasingly more valuable to our ever-growing audience
ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU
PR is, first and foremost, about building relationships. To the best extent that you can, maintain a personal touch. Take journalists out to dinner as a ‘thank you’ (not a bribe) for writing about you.
Show that you are grateful, and you’ll stand apart from the crowd of people who aren’t. Add value to your industry — don’t extract it. Pay it forward whenever you can. Connection karma, and you never know when something small will materialize into something much, much bigger.
When a journalist, blogger, or fellow business writes about you or your company — reach out and say thank you. Offer yourself as a resource for future stories. Position your organization as a company that wants to return the favor and help.
- PR is an inefficient and frustrating rat race. Cut through the noise by zeroing in on the results you want to achieve.
- Treat PR like business development. Build key relationships with journalists.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist. Craft meaningful, compelling pitches. Don’t ‘spray and pray’ a salesy advertising message.
- Personalize pitches to the journalists’ needs and interest.
- Develop a powerful brand story to share.
- Give more than you get. Say thanks. Offer to add as much value as you possibly can.