For a new business, getting the word out and promoting the startup is a crucial part of success, but it can also be costly. Not all startups have the funding to hire a PR firm to put together the strategies, media kits and press releases you need for promotion.
The good news is there are DIY options for new business owners who want to tackle the PR end of their companies on their own. Developing and executing your own PR strategy as a startup takes time and effort, but the increased customer awareness and increased sales you get in return are worth it.
Curtis Sparrer, principal at boutique PR firm Bospar, outlined some tips for new business owners who are handling their own public relations.
Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to read the news. Learn about media outlets, key reporters, your competitors and how they're talking about themselves. This will help you understand the major media influencers in your industry and start building the connections you need to reach those people.
Engage with key reporters. Do this early and often, but don't always make it about asking for coverage. Reporters don't want to be just a means to your ends, said Sparrer. Engaging them with retweets, praise or information paints you as a fan, rather than a beggar, he said.
Reverse engineer a successful press release. A successful press release is not one you simply enjoy reading, but one that resembles those covered widely in your space. Sparrer advised studying press releases that a lot of media outlets have picked up and using those as templates for your own. [See Related Story: How to Write a Great Press Release]
Don't use clichés. Avoid clichés and marketing talk. Phrases like "game changing," "bleeding edge," "disruption" and "uplevel" encourage reporters to stop reading, and if a reporter's not reading your pitch, a consumer never will. Write about your company the way your reporters would most likely cover it, Sparrer said.
Have a compelling subject line in your pitch. What's the sweet spot for an email subject line? Sparrer said the line needs to be short enough to be scanned easily from a smartphone, and informative enough to invite further reading.
Make the first sentence short. The first sentence of your pitch should be short, punchy and "new," Sparrer said.
"Reporters vet pitches by the quality of the first line to determine whether they should read further," he said. "Having the word 'new' in that line almost always guarantees they will read more."
Need some tech tools to help you get started? Check out Business News Daily's recommendations for DIY PR tools here.