PR

Revisiting the Top PR Trends for 2019

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” – Richard Branson
At the close of 2018 experts and pundits put forth their projections for what would be the top PR trends for 2019. Now that we’re halfway through the year, we thought we’d look back at those predictions to see how well they’ve played out. Were they right? Based on what we’re seeing, yes, they were. So, what were and currently are the top PR trends?
An Increased Emphasis in Consumer Interaction, Accountability and Trust
According to predictions from this article from Inc., “7 PR Trends That Will Help You Prepare For 2019,” interaction with the consumer base, accountability, and trust in the company were conveyed with increasing importance.[1] In fact, interaction with consumers has been and continues to be a priority, but the prediction includes the use of technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools to better reach customers.[2] In a separate article from Meltwater, “2019 PR Predictions: 10 PR Influencers Talk About Trends That Will (Re)Shape the Industry,” Martin Wax, president of Waxman Communications, predicts that the use of AI in particular will see an increase despite the possible ethical issues of privacy it brings.[3]
Accountability also was predicted to be an emphasis in 2019. More specifically, delivering on pitches, rather than landing an assignment only to either miss the deadline or renege, is especially important.[4]
Lastly, trust was predicted to be particularly crucial in 2019. This Edelman study, “2019 Edelman Trust Barometer”[5] shows that “media has become the least-trusted institution.”[6] Moreover, this trust has shifted from the media to experts in the field. Although gaining and maintaining trust has been an ongoing challenge, predictions called for the sharing of knowledge and insights.
Current Trends and How They Reflect the Predictions
As of this year’s halfway point, predictions for 2019 based on the mentioned emphases have mostly come to fruition. According to this article, “6 PR trends every business needs to incorporate in 2019,” by James Cummings of Agility PR, consumer interaction, accountability, and trust are all trending in the new year.[7] However, the article gives no mention to the use of AI or machine learning when it came to consumer interaction. This is not to say that those things are not of import so much as something to consider later down the road. Instead, there has been more of a stress on “leveraging social media in order to give brands emotions that extend to the audience.”[8] The article also does not mention accountability but instead places stock in transparency and authenticity to gain the trust of consumers. This could be accomplished by showing “elements of your product/service to help consumers ease into them.”[9] Further, though accountability is not mentioned, it is not mutually exclusive with securing trust, as one can hardly exist without the other.
After looking at the 2019 predictions by public relations experts and pundits then comparing them to the trends at the halfway point, things seem to be on track with few exceptions. Rather than thinking in terms of using new technology to interact with consumers, leveraging social media to extend emotion to the audience is the current inclination. Further, instead of accountability, trust in experts has become more significant to consumers. Yet, accountability is part of securing trust if you want your brand to see continued growth in this year and for the foreseeable future.
NOTE: This post first appeared on the St. Conti Communications blog.

[1] Inc., “7 PR Trends That Will Help You Prepare For 2019,” https://www.inc.com/john-hall/7-pr-trends-that-should-be-on-your-radar-in-2019.html.
[2] Inc., “7 PR Trends That Will Help You Prepare For 2019,” https://www.inc.com/john-hall/7-pr-trends-that-should-be-on-your-radar-in-2019.html.
[3] Meltwater, “2019 PR Predictions: 10 PR Influencers Talk About Trends That Will (Re)Shape the Industry,” https://www.meltwater.com/blog/10-pr-influencers-give-their-predictions-for-2019/.
[4] Inc., “7 PR Trends That Will Help You Prepare For 2019,” https://www.inc.com/john-hall/7-pr-trends-that-should-be-on-your-radar-in-2019.html.
[5] Edelman, “2019 Edelman Trust Barometer,” https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer.
[6] Inc., “7 PR Trends That Will Help You Prepare For 2019,” https://www.inc.com/john-hall/7-pr-trends-that-should-be-on-your-radar-in-2019.html.
[7] Public Relations Today, “6 PR trends every business needs to incorporate in 2019,” http://www.publicrelationstoday.com/2019/trends/?open-article-id=10196164&article-title=6-pr-trends-every-business-needs-to-incorporate-in-2019&blog-domain=agilitypr.com&blog-title=agility-pr-solutions.
[8] Public Relations Today, “6 PR trends every business needs to incorporate in 2019,” http://www.publicrelationstoday.com/2019/trends/?open-article-id=10196164&article-title=6-pr-trends-every-business-needs-to-incorporate-in-2019&blog-domain=agilitypr.com&blog-title=agility-pr-solutions.
[9] Public Relations Today, “6 PR trends every business needs to incorporate in 2019,” http://www.publicrelationstoday.com/2019/trends/?open-article-id=10196164&article-title=6-pr-trends-every-business-needs-to-incorporate-in-2019&blog-domain=agilitypr.com&blog-title=agility-pr-solutions.

PR Strategy: 5 Powerful Secrets to Awesome Media Attention

Your B2B PR strategy is a complex machine, with earned, owned, shared, and paid media components all working together. Today, we’re focusing on the earned media portion of your public relations strategy.
What is earned media? It is the attention a brand receives through media or other websites. It is called “earned” since it cannot be bought or owned. It is attained through media relations, such as press releases and pitches to journalists.
So how do you get it? A lot relies on understanding what’s happening in the world of journalism and what that means for your public relations strategy.
Which begs the question…
What is Happening to Modern Journalism?
Onclusive recently released its 2019 Global Journalism Report, based on its analysis of 2.1 billion pieces of editorial content between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019. Its conclusion: “The world of journalism has never been as dynamic as it is today …. The numbers tell a story of an author ecosystem which is fragmenting across publication tiers, editorial topics, and content formats.”

What makes today’s journalism so different and powerful? The report refers to two key areas to which we may attribute it: digital media and self-publishing.
Where once it was easy to know which media to pitch, today given the proliferation of Tier 3 publications (the non-media elite), there is a virtual army of lesser known outlets to penetrate. Moreover, brands can easily publish their own content and get their name and ideas in front of more eyeballs by amplifying owned content with paid media.
Onclusive’s report uncovers a shift in the makeup of journalists, as well as how they work. This impacts how B2B PR functions and how you enact your PR strategy — especially when it comes to earned, owned and paid media.
Let’s examine the report’s findings, see what we can learn and pinpoint how it will impact your PR strategies moving forward.
5 Key B2B PR Takeaways That Will Impact Your Earned Media Strategy
1. Don’t Assume
Never assume that a publication is too small to help your brand.

The Onclusive Report demonstrates that the number of journalists working at Tier 1 publications, such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, have decreased this past year (from 26% to 15%). At the same time, Tier 3 publications, niche content sites and blogs, have experienced an increase in journalists (from 26% to 41%) over the same period. Onclusive tiers publications based on domain authority and reputation.
What does this mean for you?
Don’t dismiss the Tier 3 publications that PR people once might have scoffed at. The key is testing and analyzing the impact of those outlets on your brand.
As Sean O’Neal, president of Onclusive, told me in an interview, “Keep everything open, including publications you’ve never heard of and journalists who are unfamiliar. Track it, measure it and look at less obvious media.”
No fish is too small in this pond of journalists. Pitching to journalists at smaller publications or blogs might be be a boon. How so?
Your target audience might avidly follow a certain trade publication or blog. Now, this publication might not have the prestige ofThe New York Times, but it is is where your audience hangs out. That in itself gives it more power for your brand than its more prestigious counterparts.
Plus, it’s going to be markedly easier to pitch to journalists at smaller publications — with more surefire results.
2. Target Regional Outlets
Where o where are the journalists?
U.S. newsroom employment, according to Onclusive, dropped 23% between 2009 and 2017 and paid positions are projected to drop another 10% by 2026.
All is not lost, however. One area of journalism is still robust.
Onclusive discovered that regional publications, such as the Seattle Times, Miami Herald and St. Louis Post publish more authors than Forbes or the Wall Street Journal. And non-traditional outlets such as BuzzFeed publish more authors than ABC. Not all of these are paid but “major metro pubs are still keeping the newsroom alive,” said O’Neal.
What does that mean? This is another arrow in the quiver to get coverage.
3. Self Publish

As part of modern PR tactics, brands continue to have the opportunity to be their own publishers.
Today’s digital landscape makes it easy to publish your own content, putting you in front of your audience. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Essentially, this puts you in the driver’s seat of your content.
What should you know going into this self-publishing revolution?
One of the biggest piece of information you need is what topics are the most interesting to your audience. As part of its report, Onclusive noted the most popular topics among news outlets in general. The top 10 of these include:

Business / Professional (1.8M)
National News (1.78M)
Information Technology (1.76M)
Consumer Products (1.25M)
Lifestyle (1.2M)
Fashion (1.16M)
Travel / Tourism / Geographic (1.14M)
Sports (1.09M)
Society (587,594)
Arts (582,623)

A little lower down on the list were Health (15) Environment (18) and Religion, (23).
Keep these topics in mind as you pitch journalists and self-publish.
4. Use Influencer Journalists

Where once all that mattered was getting into a brand-name media outlet, today authors are creating their own brands, separate from the publications where they contribute. As the report notes: “They (author influencers) organically develop their own loyal audiences, many of which even rival Tier 1 media outlets in scale.” Influence is measured by the volume of content an author produces, its social media followers and the total amount of social media engagement an author earns.
Onclusive found that the majority of influence is spread across a bell-curve distribution so that a large swath of journalists can potentially be influencers. Today, an influence score of 70% or higher puts you in the top 2% of influencers.
How do you find influencers? Use tools such as Kred and Brandwatch to measure influence.
5. Use Paid Media
Over the past few years there has been a lot of emphasis on owned and earned content. But what about paid media?

When used strategically, paid channels can help to promote your content to new audiences.
When talking about the future of media, O’Neal predicts that “paid media becomes a mainstay.”
He continues with this advice: “Use paid media to deliver your best content to its intended audiences, when you want it, how frequently and to how many readers. Combine the credibility of earned media with the reach and frequency of paid media.”
Paid media has evolved to include many digital channels, including social media ads, Google Adwords, influencer marketing, and native advertising. Price points vary, but the payout for using paid media is well worth the effort.
As noted in a previous post, the lines between earned, owned, shared, and paid media have recently become blurred. Learning to use all these kinds of media in a cohesive strategy, not compartmentalizing them into separate corners, is essential to modern B2B PR.
In review…
B2B public relations and earned content continue to change and evolve. Reacting to such changes helps to ensure that your PR strategy remains relevant and successful.

Can You Influence Your Audience With Influencer Marketing?

I bet if I asked you what lipstick your favourite blogger wears, you’d know. How about their favourite restaurant in Toronto? Or the new bag they just received? This is how influencer marketing works, in a nutshell.
While this is nothing new in the PR and advertising world, what’s interesting is the fact that “influencers,” not celebrities, are capitalizing on this new trend.
So how are brands finding these people? Who really qualifies as an “influencer”? More importantly, should you be doing this to promote your brand? I mean, it obviously works, right? Well, not always.
How Instagram Brought Influencers to the Surface
Before we dive into the glamorous world of influencing, let’s take a look at where it all began. Influencers are individuals whose content is relatable and whose lifestyle you’d want to emulate. With Instagram’s explosive entry into the social media world in 2010, many bloggers and content creators took to the platform to promote their thriving YouTube channels and popular blogs assuming it was just another promotional platform to add alongside their Facebook and Twitter pages. What they didn’t know was just how big the platform was going to get.
The early birds of Instagram saw tremendous growth to their following which got a lot of brands and PR agencies to sit up and take notice. While celebrities were late to this platform, these influencers (a term dubbed just for them) were rising stars with their 100K+ following. Soon the same brands that used to pay celebrities for talking about them, were reaching out to these influencers to send them free products. What followed was the birth of “Instagram Influencers” — individuals who may or may not have been content creators on other platforms but they sure were on Instagram. From dedicated content to a planned feed, Instagram was suddenly THE platform to be on.
Brands & Their Race to the Top
Brands were soon trying to get as many, if not more, influencers to work with them instead of their competitors. The only one winning here was the – they could cherry pick the brands they wanted to work with. What ensued was not just promotional content but brands coming out with products in collaboration with these very influencers. And it wasn’t just t-shirts or caps, we’re talking eye shadow palettes and lipsticks that were sold worldwide, makeup collections that cost hundreds of dollars and jewellery collections featuring diamonds. The reason it worked was that they weren’t celebrities. They were relatable, they were people like us, they could have been anybody.
So Who Benefits from Influencer Marketing?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “great so it works best for beauty and apparel brands.” Well, you are kind of right. While this rapid growth may have been made possible by these industries, it’s really everybody that’s profiting. With restaurants inviting them for free dining experiences to car companies lending them their brand new cars for a weekend getaway, it was only getting better.
Around 2017, even airlines had jumped on the bandwagon. They started sending these influencers on special trips to cities like Paris and New York, in business class. Countries were inviting them to promote tourism opportunities and companies like Mastercard were sponsoring their expenses. It really couldn’t get better. Or could it? Well if you count front row seats to fashion shows, free mobile phones and gadgets, and the big bucks to promote these brands, it really does.
How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing
So, how can you get influencers to talk about your brand and where do you even start?
The best place to start would be with some research. Say you’re a local jewellery brand looking to promote yourself or you run a national eCommerce store selling handmade soaps, there are influencers who work for your specific needs. Here’s what we suggest:
1. Find the right platform
If you have 100,000 followers on Facebook but a few thousand on Instagram, you probably want an influencer whose Facebook stats outweigh their Instagram stats. Better cross-promotion opportunity on the right platform.
2. Right Location
If you’re a local business in Ottawa, do you really want influencers from Vancouver talking about your business? It’s better to work with a local influencer whose followers are more receptive to their advice than a national one with just the numbers.
3. Numbers are not everything
If you find 10 influencers with 40K following each, rest assured it’s better than working with someone with 200K following. Why? Look at how many comments and likes they’re getting. Micro-influencers (under 40-100K followers) have higher engagement levels than macro-influencers (100K+ followers). The only time you should prioritize macro-influencers is when you’re looking at reach and brand awareness over everything else.
4. Do your research
Finding the right influencer who fits your brand and your voice isn’t luck, it’s time and research. Do they often promote brands in your industry? Are they experts or do they work in the same industry as yours? These are questions you need to ask before deciding on who to work with.
5. Can it fit your marketing strategy?
If you’ve planned out your campaigns for the next six months, influencer marketing may be a great way to supplement those initiatives. The beauty of influencer marketing is how easily it ties in with your other advertising and marketing efforts. Planning to launch a new product? Why not promote it through influencers. Have a social cause to talk about? Work with influencers for content. The possibilities are endless.
6. Clarify what you’re offering
There are various types of collaboration, you can send them a free product or sponsor their next social media update. It could be a dedicated blog article or a video at your store for a fee. All of these work very well but figure out what your budget encompasses.
7. Define the deliverables
If there’s one thing to learn from all the success and drama surrounding collaborations, it’s to clarify (or have it in writing) what’s decided in terms of assets. Is it a video? Or 3 dedicated posts. Have it signed and agreed on. It also helps to plan out the timeline in advance, so your sponsored content isn’t buried under 20 outfit pictures.
A bonus tip, make sure you’re not only looking at their follower counts. With the opportunities of buying followers and engagement, it’s not difficult to have 500K followers. Take a look at their last 50 posts, do they have people commenting on it? Are they engaging with their followers? Do you see their replies? Do you see people asking questions? Or do the comments look like spam? You need to consider all of this before you actually decide to go ahead with these influencers.
If after reading this you’re still unsure about how to work with influencers, you may as well enlist the help of professionals. Influencer marketing is a service now offered by digital and PR agencies. From finding the right influencers for your brand to taking care of the deliverables and communication, we offer an end-to-end influencer marketing solution for your brand.

Making the Point: How to Nail the Lead so Success Will Follow

While I consider myself an effective communicator, I recently recalled a bad habit I used to have when writing and speaking. The problem was, I would often “bury the lead,” the important points I was trying to make would be lost in other less crucial details I was passing along.
Doing this can be tremendously frustrating to a person pressed for time. This is not only the case in the busy world of business, when it comes to public relations (PR), it’s important to remember that editors, analysts and other influencers you’re targeting are inundated with similar messages and on deadline.
Standing out is imperative and brevity removes clutter.
Get to the point
Those of us in this line of work are story tellers. So it stands to reason we would communicate in the same manner; establish a premise or angle, support it with facts and other secondary details, then make a conclusion. However, not everyone has time to read down to the bottom of a lengthy email to learn the ultimate point. One place where that is particularly evident is when pitching the media.
Today, news rooms are understaffed, leaving reporters to crank out articles at a rapid pace. Gone are the days when they’d review a well laid out, lengthy pitch. So, when reaching out to media, keep pitches short and be sure to put the ultimate ask right up top – such as scheduling an executive interview on breaking news – without overwhelming the recipient with details.
This allows reporters to triage what’s in front of them. If they’re working on a story and realize you have a resource that can fill a hole, they’ll quickly see it. If you bring up a new angle they should consider, tease it and they’ll read further and possibly set up an interview.
The word to keep in mind is “relations;” reporters remember the PR people who understand what they need and can help them get their job done easier. By reaching out with relevant information, and making your points quickly, you’ll build relationships that ensure you’ll be considered.
It’s that first hurdle that’s the toughest to clear. Just remember, make sure your information has a strong connection to what the reporter is covering or their beat (the topic area they focus upon). Reporters have been known to call out those on Twitter who waste their time with pitches that are entirely unrelated to anything they would work on.
Form a new habit
For most people in business and the media, email remains the most common form of direct contact. So, those messages are a good place to focus upon and form the right habits.
If you’re wondering how to be succinct in media outreach, a basic email should be three or four short paragraphs. Be sure your ask, and a brief payoff as to why the recipient of the message should care, is made within the first three sentences. Next, follow with a paragraph or two with supporting information that adds flesh to your claims.
This can include relevant market stats, company leadership, work in a specific area or executive bio details to highlight credibility and knowledge. To generate excitement, tease successful results in overcoming a problem, maybe present a provocative viewpoint or story angle not being considered.
Basically, you want to show you’ll add depth to their piece.
Apply it everywhere
The goal of not burying the lead also applies when speaking with clients and colleagues from whom you want to get “buy in” – such as an executive you hope to enlist as a media spokesperson. I used to provide a long lead up to justify what I was proposing. While this seems sensible in our personal lives, it’s not the best approach when a deadline is looming or the business clock is ticking.
That said, when speaking, employ the same approach as when writing – lead with the ask.
Don’t forget the subject
Finally, one of the most overlooked areas of the email isn’t even in the body text – it’s the subject line.
This is a bit more complex because with a very few number of words, you’re looking to convey that you have something a recipient can use – and sometimes there’s urgency. With a reporter, there are so many different pitching scenarios that it’s tough to offer a rule of thumb other than to be as direct as possible.
That, and remember you’re not trying to trick them into opening an email; nothing exasperates a reporter more than finding there’s no substance to consider.
Getting to the point faster increases the odds you’ll get attention and a response from the other person – whether it’s a reporter or a colleague. Lead with what’s important or it’s your ideas that’ll be buried.

Made a Mistake? Time for a Client Makegood

The best client makegood options: match client expectations to what you’re willing to do.
Every agency makes client-facing mistakes. What counts is what you do next.
When a client’s unhappy, you often need to offer a “makegood”—something to make up for your mistake.
But what to offer… and how much? The right choice fixes the problem… and the wrong choice makes things worse.
When choosing and calculating the makegood, consider that unhappy clients don’t always want a refund.
Your options include redoing the work, offering future credits, and (yes) issuing a full or partial refund. Today we’ll review some examples, and then I’ll share my tips to help you determine the right makegood for your agency.
Background: “Make Them Whole”
The idea is that when an agency damages a client, or otherwise leads to a client incurring a loss (whether financial, reputational, or otherwise), the agency now needs to “make up for” that loss.
For instance, if your employee did something that was damaging to one of your clients, your agency would owe the client something (at no additional charge) to fix / make up for that.
Why? Because your employee acted [badly] on behalf of your company, and the company is responsible (within reason) for his/her behavior.
At its extreme, this is the basis of “wrongful death” lawsuits—that the financial settlement “makes up for” the negligently or intentionally-caused death.
The problem is that sometimes clients expect makegoods when something wasn’t entirely your agency’s fault… or wasn’t your fault at all!
Challenge: Calculating Your Makegood Liability
In practice, there’s often some argument between the agency vs. client as to how much your agency is responsible for handling.
For instance, if the agency is working on a client’s website and the client’s in-house developer accidentally takes the site down… the agency can help fix it, but not for free. (That is, “proportional” makegoods are a thing… anywhere from 0% to 100%.)
This is definitely a “perception vs. reality” situation.

If your client feels like you “did your best,” they’re often less likely to pursue significant makegoods.
If your client is unhappy already—or feeling a cash crunch, doesn’t understand your efforts, or doesn’t recognize their potential role in the failure—they’re more likely to demand a 100% makegood… if not more than 100%.

Let’s look at a few agency examples, followed by how to choose and calculate your makegoods.
Agency Liability Examples
How much value do you owe your client as a makegood? From a legal perspective, your contract ideally addresses key points. But you responsibility extends to client satisfaction, too. In the three examples below, I’ll focus on the client retention aspects of the equation.
Example 1: PPC over-spend due to contractor negligence
Earlier this year, a client’s contractor forgot to pause an end-client’s AdWords budget. The PPC account over-spent by $4,000.
The contractor agreed to credit the agency by $4,000—because it was his mistake—and the agency meanwhile credited the client $4,000 on a related project.
The end-client was happy with the outcome—the campaign produced lots of leads—and appreciated the agency’s immediate transparency. The experience ultimately strengthened the agency-client relationship.
Sound familiar to your agency? See tips #1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 below!
Example 2: PPC over-spend due to breaking news
PPC over-spend makegoods don’t always go so positively.
In another case, an end-client didn’t warn the agency about pending legislation that was likely to increase demand for the end-client’s services. The law went through, leading to a huge spike in search traffic for the end-client’s core keywords.
By the time the agency’s monitoring tools caught the AdWords over-spend, the account had over-spent $20,000+ in a single day! But in this case, most of the traffic wasn’t from qualified leads.
The agency promised a makegood to the client, and called their Google sales rep—positing that Google’s internal budget controls should have prevented that kind of a surge.
The rep assured them Google would give a credit, and the agency relayed that to the client. But then the rep came back and said he could only credit ~$10,000 without getting approval by someone two levels above him… and the director had decided not to approve the full credit.
The Google director argued that the daily budget is an average over the period—not a true daily cap—and refused to follow the agency’s argument that the clicks were primarily unqualified.
Worse, the client disputed with the over-spend calculation, saying it was a ~$25K over-spend, not a $20K over-spend. (Unlike the first example, many of the breaking news ad click-throughs were not qualified leads.)
Now the agency was on hook for ~$15,000 in unreimbursed spend… on a $10K/month retainer.
The agency ultimately negotiated an in-the-middle settlement with the end-client, but the end-client—someone who was already hard to please anyway—still wasn’t happy, and they eventually terminated the agency.
Sound familiar to your agency? See tips #1-9 below!
Example 3: PR campaign fails to attract event signups
A coaching client was doing PR to promote a fundraising series for a non-profit. (The idea was to enlist companies to put on their own pop-up events, with proceeds to benefit the charity.) The agency warned the client about the risks involved, including a short timeline and shaky value proposition.
Result? A month into the engagement, no one wanted to sign up to host an event.
During a coaching call, we talked through her options. She ultimately opted to issue a partial refund and to host a fundraising event via the agency itself.
The non-profit client was satisfied, in part because the agency had managed their expectations beforehand about this being a stretch. And in retrospect, my client acknowledged that the agency probably shouldn’t have accepted the engagement in the first place.
Sound familiar to your agency? See tips #1, 4, 5, and 9 below!
Tips to Calculate Your Client Makegood
Calculating makegoods is both art and science. Why’s that? You likely have some baseline policies, but to echo Anna Karenina—each unhappy client is unhappy in their own way.
Here’s my advice on choosing and calculating your makegood:

What makegood or other compensation has the client requested? (If you don’t know, ask—sometimes it’s less than what you’d expect.)
How does that compare to what you’re willing to offer?
What’s the client’s sense of who’s to blame? (If they see a mixed situation, you have more flexibility than if they think it’s largely your agency’s fault.)
How does the client’s blame-assignment match reality, as far as you can understand?
How dependent is your agency’s future on this specific client relationship? (If you can afford to lose them, you have more options.)
What does the contract say? (This may be more or less strict than what everyone’s discussing.)
Do you have E&O insurance or other coverage to protect you? (If a contractor made a mistake, like the example above, they may be willing to take on a portion of the makegood.)
What’s been the overall trend of the client relationship? (Are they mostly happy, or generally unhappy? Has your team made mistakes with them before, or is this the first time?)
To what extent will a makegood actually satisfy the client? (Don’t be pigheaded… but if the makegood won’t really make things better, weigh whether it makes sense to proceed.)

Remember, I’m not a lawyer—so be sure to consult with your legal and insurance advisors as appropriate.
Question: How do you handle client makegoods at your agency?

15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don’t survive past their first two years, and half don’t survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.
With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.
Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.
Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It’s a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.
Create a concise summary. Like the infamous “elevator pitch,” the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That’s challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as “like United Rentals, but for your own possessions” can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.
Ascertain what’s newsworthy. Find what’s different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren’t newsworthy, because they aren’t unique or don’t offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that’s the case, consider revamping the product.
Document the start-up’s story. Relating the start-up’s trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America’s Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.
“But remember — your story isn’t just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the “WHY?” asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. “Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?”
Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company’s website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. “Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media,” Corbett says.
Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer’s problem helps create a new product need.
Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company’s product, PR can consider new research, the company’s response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. “The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist’s readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure,” says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.
Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they’re outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.
Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a “behind the scenes look” at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up’s niche.
Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder’s blog post rather than a traditional press release. “For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story,” writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.
Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.
Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand’s visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up’s products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.
Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications’ deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.
Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. “Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise,” Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.
Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.
Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product’s launch is essential for a start-up’s survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.
This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.
Sign up for a free demo of the Glean.info media monitoring & measurement dashboard.

15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don’t survive past their first two years, and half don’t survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.
With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.
Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.
Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It’s a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.
Create a concise summary. Like the infamous “elevator pitch,” the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That’s challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as “like United Rentals, but for your own possessions” can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.
Ascertain what’s newsworthy. Find what’s different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren’t newsworthy, because they aren’t unique or don’t offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that’s the case, consider revamping the product.
Document the start-up’s story. Relating the start-up’s trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America’s Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.
“But remember — your story isn’t just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the “WHY?” asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. “Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?”
Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company’s website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. “Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media,” Corbett says.
Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer’s problem helps create a new product need.
Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company’s product, PR can consider new research, the company’s response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. “The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist’s readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure,” says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.
Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they’re outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.
Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a “behind the scenes look” at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up’s niche.
Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder’s blog post rather than a traditional press release. “For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story,” writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.
Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.
Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand’s visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up’s products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.
Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications’ deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.
Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. “Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise,” Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.
Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.
Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product’s launch is essential for a start-up’s survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.
This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.
Sign up for a free demo of the Glean.info media monitoring & measurement dashboard.

15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don’t survive past their first two years, and half don’t survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.
With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.
Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.
Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It’s a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.
Create a concise summary. Like the infamous “elevator pitch,” the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That’s challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as “like United Rentals, but for your own possessions” can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.
Ascertain what’s newsworthy. Find what’s different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren’t newsworthy, because they aren’t unique or don’t offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that’s the case, consider revamping the product.
Document the start-up’s story. Relating the start-up’s trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America’s Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.
“But remember — your story isn’t just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the “WHY?” asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. “Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?”
Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company’s website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. “Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media,” Corbett says.
Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer’s problem helps create a new product need.
Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company’s product, PR can consider new research, the company’s response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. “The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist’s readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure,” says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.
Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they’re outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.
Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a “behind the scenes look” at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up’s niche.
Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder’s blog post rather than a traditional press release. “For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story,” writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.
Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.
Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand’s visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up’s products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.
Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications’ deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.
Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. “Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise,” Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.
Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.
Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product’s launch is essential for a start-up’s survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.
This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.
Sign up for a free demo of the Glean.info media monitoring & measurement dashboard.

15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don’t survive past their first two years, and half don’t survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.
With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.
Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.
Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It’s a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.
Create a concise summary. Like the infamous “elevator pitch,” the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That’s challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as “like United Rentals, but for your own possessions” can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.
Ascertain what’s newsworthy. Find what’s different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren’t newsworthy, because they aren’t unique or don’t offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that’s the case, consider revamping the product.
Document the start-up’s story. Relating the start-up’s trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America’s Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.
“But remember — your story isn’t just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the “WHY?” asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. “Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?”
Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company’s website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. “Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media,” Corbett says.
Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer’s problem helps create a new product need.
Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company’s product, PR can consider new research, the company’s response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. “The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist’s readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure,” says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.
Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they’re outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.
Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a “behind the scenes look” at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up’s niche.
Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder’s blog post rather than a traditional press release. “For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story,” writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.
Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.
Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand’s visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up’s products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.
Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications’ deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.
Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. “Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise,” Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.
Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.
Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product’s launch is essential for a start-up’s survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.
This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.
Sign up for a free demo of the Glean.info media monitoring & measurement dashboard.

15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don’t survive past their first two years, and half don’t survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.
With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.
Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.
Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It’s a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.
Create a concise summary. Like the infamous “elevator pitch,” the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That’s challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as “like United Rentals, but for your own possessions” can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.
Ascertain what’s newsworthy. Find what’s different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren’t newsworthy, because they aren’t unique or don’t offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that’s the case, consider revamping the product.
Document the start-up’s story. Relating the start-up’s trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America’s Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.
“But remember — your story isn’t just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the “WHY?” asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. “Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?”
Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company’s website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. “Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media,” Corbett says.
Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer’s problem helps create a new product need.
Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company’s product, PR can consider new research, the company’s response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. “The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist’s readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure,” says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.
Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they’re outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.
Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a “behind the scenes look” at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up’s niche.
Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder’s blog post rather than a traditional press release. “For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company’s story,” writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.
Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.
Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand’s visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up’s products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.
Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications’ deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.
Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. “Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise,” Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.
Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.
Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product’s launch is essential for a start-up’s survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.
This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.
Sign up for a free demo of the Glean.info media monitoring & measurement dashboard.