How to do your own PR: Top 5 tips for start-ups

Taking the do-it-yourself approach to PR? Expert Market share five pointers to help your business get coverage on a budget...

Your business has finally launched and now everyone should know about it. Achieving credible exposure is essential to building your brand reputation but as a start-up your marketing communications budget is likely to be small.

Outsourcing your PR to an external agency is out of your budget so how do you go about getting coverage at the first crucial milestone of your new business?

Here are some top tips for DIY start-up PR success:

1. Research, read, retain, repeat

The ultimate objective for every brand is to get a big positive feature in a national newspaper or magazine.

Researching is equally as important as outreaching so make the most of the time you have now to thoroughly explore your subject areas, target publications and journalists. Carefully consider where you want your customers and clients to see and hear about your business.

If you operate within a niche sector, there are likely to be several trade websites and publications that cater for your product or service. While these publications don’t boast the same circulation rates as national press, you can be sure the readership is the right target audience which can have a positive impact on sales and reputation with your clients.

2. Know your target journos and build relationships with them

Having a thorough understanding of the topics your target journalists write about is essential. A common complaint of reporters is how often they receive irrelevant email and telephone pitches. Allocate time to read their articles to gauge whether they are the right person for your story.

Build comprehensive press lists with journalists’ full contact details which you can immediately refer to when you have a newsworthy story. This list can be added to for specific campaigns and stories and is a great way of managing your outreach strategy.

PR has significantly evolved from the era of long, boozy lunches with journalists. However, the primary goal of any PR professional remains the same: to build long-lasting relationships with journalists. Make sure you are conversational and friendly when you pitch your brand so you give it a human feel.

Follow your target journalists on social media, read their content, comment on it and share it. This will put you on their radar and could result in a returned follow which could initiate the start of an online relationship.

3. Have a brand hook

In PR every story needs a hook that will resonate well with readers which is the case for all publications.

This can be applied at the more strategic brand level. Unless your business is offering something totally new, its launch won’t be a ground-breaking headline. Do you have a unique outlook in comparison to your competitors?

Perhaps you are making your product in a different way, or perhaps your idea came about after an important life event, adding this sort of colour and context to your brand is what will make it interesting to a journalist and their readers.

 4.  Tell cool stories, make awesome content

PR is professional story-telling so your aim is to write about something relevant to your industry that will engage readers and start a conversation. There are several options at your disposal:

Guest Blogs: Pitching an article as a guest blogger on relevant, high authority websites is a fantastic free way to promote your personal brand and build your reputation as an expert voice in your given industry. Guest blogs have great shareability which can be the first stepping stone to building a good relationship with a journalist. You could be invited to write about additional topics and noticed by other reputable sites or publications.

Have great imagery: Make sure you have a couple of really good quality images of whatever your company does that you can offer to publications. This will be essential if you are going to be written about so research what sort of thing will represent your company well and invest in a professional who can capture this for you.

5. And the award goes to…

Being recognised as an industry leader for having an impressive sustainability policy, an outstanding workplace culture or remarkable marketing campaign can add considerable clout to your brand reputation, which in turn can massively aid your pitches to journalists.

There are an abundance of awards out there so it’s important to be selective about the ones you apply to. Take the time to thoroughly research the accolade noting previous entrants.

Consider how your business achievements fare against former winners and assess the probability of being shortlisted.

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