When you are an early-stage startup your main priority should be investing in developing your product. This means that, for a while, you won’t have the necessary funds to hire internal or external PR support.
But until then, there are a few things you can start doing on your own to help your company get the attention of the media!
1. Work on your message
The first thing to do when you don’t have an experienced PR professional to advise you on a regular basis is to define the message you want to convey to the public. What do you want your company to be known for? How does your product stand out in the market? Who is the audience you are hoping to attract?
Once you have all of this information, write it down in the most objective way you can --think of it as explaining what you do to a 10-year-old, no complication, no fuss, direct to the point. When you have an initial draft ready, send it to friends and family who are not familiar with what you do to get feedback if the message is clear enough.
2. Find your journalist soulmate
When you have your message ready it’s time to create your personalised media list so you have people to send your information to. Remember to focus on the journalist and not on your product. You should look for media professionals that cover stories and topics that are relevant to your industry. You do that by staying up-to-date with the news in your sector and by researching the publications that publish those stories.
There are a few tools online that can help you find the contact information for journalists, like Anewstip, Hunter, Pressfarm, Hey Press, and Muck Rack --some of these tools are paid, but you can try to request a free demo.
Once you get the contacts, write a killer pitch and send it their way (you can learn how to pitch to journalists in one of our previous newsletters).
Make sure the email is publicly available, and add a line to your email explaining where you found them online - get ready for GDPR people!
3. Stay alert to what journalists are on the hunt for
If you’re on Twitter, just search for the popular hashtags #journorequest or #prrequest and see what journalists are currently writing about. You can then reach out directly to them to pitch yourself or your company to the article they are working on.
Another thing you can do is to sign up for media enquiry services, like Response Source or Help A Reporter Out. These services will provide you with regular requests from journalists who are looking for experts to be featured in their articles.
Remember to create a file with the contact information of all journalists you are in contact with - this will be helpful when you have an important announcement later.
4. Position yourself as the expert you are!
Ask not what the media can do for you, ask what you can do for the media. So don’t just sit around waiting for journalists to contact you. Follow them on Twitter and provide relevant comment and insight on pieces they’ve published.
This can be done by retweeting their posts with a quick message attached to it or messaging them directly. If you do opt for messaging them, don’t overdo it, you don’t want to come across as a desperate stalker.
Also make sure your Twitter profile is sleek, with a professional photo, updated bio and link to your company’s website.
5. Make it easy for journalists to find you
You don’t have to give your personal mobile number and be available 24 hours a day, but it helps a lot to have an email in which you can be easily contacted.
Don’t forget to have all contact information clearly stated in your company’s website and in a place that it’s easy to find - ideally leave it in the footer or header of the website, visible in all of your pages.