By Fiona Hamann, Commtractor, Founder & Principal of Hamann Communication, PR Lecturer and passionate about all facets of communications.
Start-Ups are increasingly challenging to PR, as there is a new one launched every day, so you need to stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
If your start-up has just received funds via a capital raise or angel investor, it is critical that you negotiate the ability to disclose the investor details and the amount you raised with your investors; otherwise it becomes challenging to get coverage in business publications or national media such as the AFR.
Details that build a fantastic start-up story include the amount raised, the names of high profile investors and a small history of prior successful investments they have been involved with. If possible a quote from investors goes a long way. Details about the pedigree of your company management team are also excellent, as is any story about how the founders identified the need for the product or service you are offering.
If you can’t provide investor details and amounts, it is good to show how you have launched your product and smashed your own targets, showing a public appetite for your product or service. However, when I say “smashed”, I mean your figures are comparable to big competitors and are really impressive.
Media are not interested in the story unless you have a good angle. It is not about leveraging media contacts. If you don’t have a newsworthy story, then journalists simply won’t cover it, regardless of how many connections your PR person has.
It is all very well to say ‘We just want to announce we have launched’, but without a compelling news angle, you would be better to spend your money on advertising or social media.
PR is not guaranteed media coverage and relies on a good “news story” for publication.
However, all is not lost
If you are unable to announce investor details, amounts or information that will reassure people your company is solid, then you may want to take a longer view to establish your name in the market. This is called a thought-leadership PR campaign.
By getting your name out there as an expert spokesperson on your topic or market, you can move towards being the first point of call for media when they are running a piece on your industry. Here are three strategies your PR consultant should be able to help you with. Building your reputation in a crowded marketplace takes time though.
Place Op-Eds in relevant media – An op-ed is a piece written by you (or ghostwritten for you by your PR consultant) and placed into newspapers, websites or blogs. It could include taking a position on an industry issue or providing expert advice in your market. The downside is you can’t spruik your product in the article, but you do get a bio at the end, which is what helps to establish you as a thought leader, or expert.
Investigate speaking opportunities at industry events – This gets you front and centre with your target customer or client base.
Share newsworthy research you have done – This may include a survey commissioned by a market research company that will provide something newsworthy for journalists. You should also consider including infographics. Examples of research-led PR can be found here or here. The more people surveyed, the better. To be statistically valid in Australia, aim for 700 people. Media, however, like a number of 1,000 or more.
A good PR consultant can help you to identify angles and strategies to build a reputation as a thought leader, if you are prepared to play a longer game.