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DIY PR or Hire An Agency? Top PR Tips for Startups

Mar 2, 2021 Beth Monaghan

Last week, I shared my top PR tips for startups during a Clubhouse private event with InnoLead Co-Founder & Boston Globe Columnist Scott Kirsner, BIGfish PR CEO David Richard, TechCrunch’s Natasha Mascarenhas and Uber’s Sasha Hoffman. Here are the key takeaways from our discussion: 

audience prioritization comes first

Decide who you’re trying to reach and then figure out which media outlets make the most sense. For example, if you’re an open-source tech company with a focus on developers, a story in The New York Times likely won’t reach your target audience.

Your company story needs tension

No one wants to read a story about two people who fall in love and live happily ever after. We need a villain to make the hero interesting. Here’s what we recommend to make your story newsworthy

live in the intersection

How does your company news intersect with the news happening around us on a local, national and/or global level? Rapid response is a great way to share your point of view and build important media relationships. This is a best practice for all Inkhouse clients.

whats interesting besides your latest funding round

With more VCs and the flow of funding like never before, you need to tell a bigger story about who you are, what you’re doing differently and why it’s solving an existing problem. The funding aspect is important, but it’s only one moment in time.

thought leadership shouldnt be an afterthought

What’s the founder’s background? What does your company’s post-pandemic route look like? And if you’re bootstrapped, why aren’t you taking venture funds? This broader story is important for securing the right reporters’ attention. 

use data storytelling

If you have user insights or data that can speak to a broader industry trend, it’ll be easier to break through the news cycle.

Be transparent about your market and competitors

If there are no competitors, reporters often think it’s not worthy of coverage because there isn’t a market. It pays to be honest and explain where you fit in/why you’re different than the others, even if they are direct competitors.

lead time for news reporting jumped from three days to two weeks

The news runs 24×7, but there are fewer reporters and more news to cover. Don’t wait until the last minute to share your news with a reporter because times (and resources) have changed. 

reputation is everything

Mascarenhas of TechCrunch says it’s all reporters have now and they need to be extra selective about which stories they take on. 

dont DIY your international PR strategy

Unless you have spokespeople located in specific markets and local PR expertise, taking your strategy global through DIY probably isn’t right for you. PR operates much differently outside of the U.S.

you cant launch twice

Going for a soft launch and then hoping for a waterfall of media coverage during a hard launch is often unrealistic. Your launch is a one-time opportunity: don’t squander it to excitement or impatience. 

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