Yesterday a startup asked for advice about putting out news about their recent funding round. I believe PR can be one of the most leveraged marketing activities for a startup, worth doing right. Here are the key points to keep in mind, as I see these points are needed again and again:
Be clear who your #1 audience is. Other investors? Clients? Industry analysts? Then spend effort writing the main message in one headline until you have that clear. That message can have several components, but needs to be concise and to the point.
Write the first paragraph, where you expand on this in 2-3 sentences. Remember to think about the message from the journalists point of view - what will they think is interesting to their readers? After that you can expand the full text to add more details.
Check for keywords that you want to include, make sure this fits with your SEO strategy. A good news post can generate SEO for years, worth making sure you are consistent in your usage of terms and keywords. Align with other marketing efforts.
Assemble your list of target media. Sort by news category and journalist type. Some will write long form pieces and require a more sophisticated approach, some will just re-post industry news. Pick targets where you really want the news to appear and work those individually.
Some outlets (e.g. TechCrunch, Tech.EU in tech press in our region) will respect embargoes, so use them. That means a prohibition against publishing until time & date of announcement (in bold at top of document). They prepare a post ahead of time. Give them a week's notice.
A good PR firm will help you craft the message and leverage their journalist relationships to get placement. Some Change Ventures portfolio companies have used TrueSix, BallouPR and Black Unicorn PR. Ideally you want a long term relationship with a firm for best results.
Questions? Shoot them over in the discussion.
Hi qooritos! How to train your creativity muscle?
A vital part of today’s startup is content marketing. Not only you show that you an industry expert with interesting insights, but over time can share long term vision and it becomes easier to lead others. Unfortunately, you cannot get lots of help from copywriters, since they will be telling their version of future, not yours. So how to keep those content ideas coming? Sharing what works for me.
First, always be for lookout for some interesting ideas: whether its a chat with friend, colleague, or news article. The world is full of ideas and as an expert you will naturally react to it. As CEO, you will get privillege of exposure of even more ideas: feedback from customers, employees, industry experts. Some ideas resonate with you, some are b*#&! - either reaction is great. Mark all of them down on the paper so you don’t forget. You will likely discard 90% of the ideas as not newsworthy, but thats ok!
Train you creativity muscle. My friend shared the story of Onion writer, who had to produce 25 content sketches per week. No excuses. Initially it sounds hard or almost impossible, but after few weeks it becomes as normal as brushing your teeth. The awesome side-effect is that this creativity spills into product as well. As long as you can filter out crappy ideas in objective way - you are good!
Finally, some ideas expire. My product and industry (CityNow - real estate interactive map and news outlet) is changing rapidly. Sometimes I look into sketches of content which I started a month ago, and don’t get excited anymore to write about it or the news are no longer relevant to the audience. It feels like fishing - the fun and productive part is 1% of the time spent. But maybe tomorrow you will get inspiration for your best PR idea?
Ready to train your muscle? Write us ([email protected]) your 5 ideas, how you would improve CityNow product and help us. Also let me know what you would like to hear about and lets make it interactive :) Cheers
Interesting research from Yale that positive mood when pitching helps raise capital. Implications: founders need to practice maintaining that positive, confident tone when pitching; investors have to be careful to distinguish "hutzpah" from real competence.
For startups from Central and Eastern Europe pitching in the USA especially, I always advise that you need to pitch very aggressively and with extreme confidence, such that you feel uncomfortable yourself. The result will look mildly confident to the US venture investors who are used to seeing American founders pitch all day long….