Welcome to the World of PR!

As an entrepreneur jumping into the world of startups, you’ll quickly see how important the media is for marketing and advertising your business. However, it is up to you to seek out newspapers, television shows and radio yourself and make your business sound interesting enough to be featured!

That’s what Public Relations is all about. Put simply, PR is the art of making yourself and your company seem attractive to the press. It differs from advertising because it’s not about actually paying for exposure, but rather getting the media to talk about you. This is very useful for startups: coming from another source, the information about your business seems more trustworthy. It is thus key to always ensure that the press has nothing negative to say about you.

The following article provides some PR basics that will be very useful for your startup.

Press Releases

The first step to take to getting the media talking about you is to send out a press release to various media houses in your area. It is the first point-of-engagement between you and the press, and so it is important to make a good impression.

What exactly is a press release?

A press release is a piece of news, a story or a summary of information about an event you are hosting, or something remarkable you have achieved. The release will serve as a basis for the journalist to write an article about you or your company. It therefore needs to contain relevant and complete information, while still remaining concise and relevant. The goal of a press release is to get your story across to the media.

For more general information:

  • This article explains what a press release is in more detail, and elaborates on why they are important for startups. The historic background of the press release and how it has changed with the digital age is also explained.
  • This interesting blog post provides you with a list of the benefits and detriments of using press releases.

How do I actually write a press release?  

Format is so important when drafting your press release: you have to ensure that the information is presented in an eye-catching way that is easy to read. The format can assist you in portraying which information is most important. The following example from AirAsia.com illustrates a good way of laying out your press release.

press release sample.jpg

This SME Toolkit provides complementary tips to catch a journalist’s attention. These tips include using an active headline, putting the most important information first, and using understandable words and avoid too much jargon.

Who should I send my press release to?

After you have a press release with tremendously interesting content and a neat style, it’s time for you to share it! Here, strategy is key to ensuring you target the right people at the right time.  

You should aim to put your press release in the hands of the media that will be the most interested in what you are doing. Think about who is likely to care about your business and your cause. It is also important to decide between sending the press release to industry-specific media or mainstream media - and this will depend on the purpose of your press release, and the kind of exposure you are looking to get. Think about what the best way to reach your target market will be.

This article explains how you can use Twitter, subscribe to Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and track articles relevant to your startup with Google Alerts. It is usually better to reach out to reporters directly, as they often have specific focus areas. Finally, don’t forget to go local! You want your local media to know about your story, as they are often the most directly linked to your target market.

How do I reach out?

Once you have made a list of all the people you think are relevant to contact, draft an email to them:

  • Start with a catchy subject line: you want the journalist to open the email, so arouse their curiosity!

  • Add a brief introduction that personalizes the message by saying something like, “I hope you can use this; let me know if you have questions.”

  • Copy/paste the press release into the email’s body (people are less likely to open attachments)

  • Sign off with a formal, yet warm greeting at the end, and send!

Further reading:

This article will be able to assist you even further, as it gives the journalist’s perspective on press releases. It expands on some of the dos and don’ts mentioned above and reminds you of the key mood your press release should have: Be personal, be original, be fun!

When it comes to PR, there is not one formula for success. However, there are definitely strategies you can use to brand your business in a unique way and catch the attention of the press, and ultimately, your future customers. Just remember that everything your business does, or anything you say on behalf of your business, could be requoted - so make sure it’s positive, and make use of press releases that are original and punchy!

Photo credit: http://nolimitma.com/

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