Public relations can be a very powerful tool for exposing startups to new customers and investors. A strong article or blog post with images featuring your product or service can attract new customers and investors, boost SEO and increase your visibility when shared on social media platforms.
A question startups ask me is at what stage of growth should a startup pursue media coverage? There is definitely such a thing as starting PR too early. There are three fundamentals that startups should have in place before considering to pursue media exposure on their own, or with a PR consultant or agency.
- A Finished Product
There’s no sense in trying to get media attention if the product is still in development. Only when the product is working and clearly defined should you begin to consider PR. The product must have passed the testing stage with flying colors, customers are using it and are satisfied, and it delivers results as expected. Startups are constantly changing and hopefully growing but the product’s application and benefits should be clear and easily understood by a reporter or blogger.
Some startups are reluctant to start PR unless the product is extensively distributed. That can be a valid point, however, if you are looking to find new investors, gaining positive media coverage can pique interest even if the product is not yet available everywhere. It can demonstrate to investors that you are a legit operation and worth a closer look. Many industry trade publications are interested in covering a new technology that offers unique benefits even if the product is being used by a few customers or in the process of obtaining regulatory certifications. Providing statistics or studies to further back up your product’s claims will also have your company viewed as being worthy of coverage.
- Some Investment
The media will consider your startup seriously if you have some investors behind your company. Nothing talks like money and editors, bloggers and reporters will appreciate that outside investment is a clear indicator that the startup is growing and on the move. In fact many startups first foray into gaining media coverage is an announcement about gaining a new investor or a new round of funding. Keep in mind that you also have to tell a good story that highlights what you product does. A solid round of funding will help get your foot in the door, and have editors and bloggers take a closer look at your company but that info alone won’t be enough. You must also tell a good story about your product, simply explain what it does and vividly describe the product’s benefits.
- Knowing Why You’re Doing PR
The first thing I discuss with potential clients is what they hope to achieve and who they want to connect with. Any company, regardless of its size, should be able to answer this question but it’s especially important for startups given the limited number of resources they typically have. What are you looking to achieve with public relations? Are you seeking customers or investors or both? Are you looking to make a splash with a high profile media hit, or a focused hit that targets your key demographics? Answering these kinds of questions will give focus to PR efforts and ensure you get the results you want while managing your resources effectively.
An important last note – while having these things in place will help determine when to start PR, it is only the beginning. You need to have a good story to tell and to find the appropriate reporters, bloggers and editors that would likely be interested in creating a piece about your company. If you have the fundamentals in place, you’re in a strong position to start considering PR strategies that will lead to great media coverage.