by Michelle Bates
Ego aside, what real value does PR have for you as a founder/brand?
Money. VCs Google you immediately. That front page on Google is your real first impression, not your pitch deck. Anyone can make a good impression with a pitch deck if you understand what they want to see, but can you back it up by what other people say about you? Does the media confirm your pitch?
Recruitment. Job candidates Google you. You raised some cash, now you need to recruit but there is nothing online about you yet to confirm your credibility, or even worse, there are negative things online about you.
Brand awareness and attracting new users/customers is harder to measure through PR, though not to be discounted, as any media coverage you earn will go a long way in getting attention and for potential new users to learn about you.
If you are going to ‘do’ media, treat it with priority
Treat it with priority and value even though you have a lot on your plate. Think of it this way, it may not seem important at that very second because direct outcomes are not as tangible as hitting a development milestone, but if you burn a bridge with a journalist it will stay with you for years and could result in not getting media coverage in the future.
Don’t waste a journalists time, get back to them in a timely matter. If you say you are going to do an interview, do your best to be on time. If you can’t treat it with priority, don’t do it at all as you risk making a mess for yourself.
Media will love to work with you and keep coming back if you: are not arrogant and ego driven, have genuine insights, are able to communicate complex things in a simple way and use plain english (tip: use minimal words as possible, be straight to the point, my 9yo should be able to understand what you are saying, no jargon).
What media do and do not care about
They care about (not all of the time) when you launch (so don’t waste this opportunity), they care about growth (whether it be revenue, users, headcount), they care about expansion, innovation and genuine insight. They care about diversity. They care about equality and opportunity. They care about what is newsworthy and of genuine interest to the public, their audience.
They do not care about who you are partnering with. They do not care about pricing or fees. They do not care about your office culture in the way of token gestures and the box ticking kind, they may care about genuine culture initiatives that have impact.
Doing these 3 free things will supercharge your PR game
The best founders in the world know how to ‘do’ PR. It can take years to master the art of being a PR gun and go-to for media. Here are a few things you can do straight away to start using PR to your advantage.
Twitter. Journos are on Twitter. If you are in tech, most likely you are on Twitter also. Beware, treat your tweets and engagement just like they are a press release. Be very careful with what you say and how you say it, you are representing your brand and caution should be taken.
Start by following journalists that write about your industry. Watch from the sidelines, read the articles they write about and start to get a gauge for the topics they are interested in and how they write about them. Twitter is really effective for getting an understanding for personalities as well. Are they friendly, are they supportive, are they brutal? We would advise to understand this prior to engaging with media. Dip your toe in, throw likes and retweets, it is a friendly hello.
The next step for Twitter is to be able to start recognising what could be potential PR opportunities for you to offer yourself up for. Let’s say a journalist tweets a story they wrote on a topic that is relevant to your business or industry, you could DM them and let them know that you enjoyed their story and that you have insight on X if they are ever looking for any other industry insights down the track.
Expert positioning. Is there a particular topic relevant to your business or industry that you know a lot about? One of the ways to start positioning yourself as a go-to expert in the media is to start conversations with the public about it. Treat this phase of your positioning as your resume for media to decide whether you are worthy of engaging with and using in their articles. Don’t be an expert on everything, pick one topic and nail it. Obviously, try to pick something that is going to benefit your business if you are getting media coverage down the line regarding it.
Include it as your interest on your Twitter and LinkedIn bios. Share relevant articles from others on the topic and post your own views along with it. Use Medium to write your own articles on the topic. This activity will go a long way to begin your positioning and put you in a good place for media to want to come to you for your insights and comments.
Understanding what PR opportunities look like for you and your startup. This is the hardest one to nail but if you can start recognising these opportunities, they will start popping up during your days in the bucketload. These are the top few that you could start with:
Growth, how are you experiencing growth? Everyone wants to know about this because they all want it for themselves. Everyone wants to learn how to experience growth in their own business.
Different views, opinions or insights. Do you ever see an opinion or insight of someone quoted in the news and you don’t agree because of X? DM the journo but do it in a positive way. Don’t throw stones. Respectfully have a different opinion. Don’t fall for the quick PR wins of having an out there, badass view. Being the credible darling of the media will be better for your brand in the public eye. Not all PR is good PR, despite what the myths say.
Innovation in any way can be interesting.
If you find yourself unsure at times and want to double check with someone, drop me a line at email@example.com or find me on Twitter @bango_group and run it by me.