DIY PR 101 – Bootstrapping your own communications

Freelancer’s Liam Fitzpatrick explains how to get your startup in the media: 

You’ve got a great business, but no one knows about it.

Time to get yourself noticed. And sites like Ideas Spies are always on the hunt for people doing new and interesting things.

So how do you go about it?

‘Be interesting and interested’

A former boss of mine had a phrase for most scenarios. Little pocket-sized mantras. ‘Be interesting and interested’ sounds obvious, but it involves being able to know what will appeal to others.

You spent time honing the audience for your product – now you should spend a little time reading the media to understand which journalists already write about your sector, and what gets them excited.

Would I read it?

Generally the media will be looking for a human interest angle – whether that’s your founder’s story or the impact you’ve had on your customers’ lives. Stats will help to quantify success in the mind of a journalist or their readers (number of users, fundraising figures, etc). At the end of the day, ask yourself if you would read the article if it wasn’t about you.

Not every announcement is going to cause bottle-popping celebrations outside of your business. Which is fine. For those stories which you ‘have’ to get out there, make them work from an SEO perspective and document it on a free listings site like: PRLog, BusinessWire, PRweb, MediaPost, there are hundreds of sites – just Google ‘free press release distribution’.

Thinking about context

You will need to demonstrate that you’re aware of things outside of your own world. Be interested in what is going on in your industry and trends from other sectors. It will help you when you’re trying to illustrate to the media where your business sits in the wider world. What are you doing that others aren’t? Does your business sit in a trend which a journalist can include in a wider feature?

Get out there

The ‘be interesting and interested’ advice applies to networking too. It’s not all take. The most famous startup communities are well-known because of the amount of time people give back. But you need to build your network.

Event sites like Meetup and Eventbrite will give you access to a world of people who could help your business. Give up the occasional evening and reap the rewards. Most of these events are free and it could result in your startup’s next investment. If your startup is based on a clever idea, which it should be, you can also post your “elevator pitch” on IdeaSpies for free.

‘What matters is what matters, to the people that matter’

When speaking with the media be aware that the journalist will likely have to pitch in your idea to their editor. So think like an editor and argue why readers will be interested in your story.

Tips

Avoid jargon – general rule, if you can’t explain it in a sentence your mum would understand it’s too complicated.

Talk about the benefits not your product – why should the reader care about your business?

Get to the point – who, what, where, when, why in two paragraphs both in emails and releases.

Look for journalists who write similar stories – both Fairfax and News Corp news brands have ‘Small Business’ sections looking for startups to feature.

Liam Fitzpatrick , Communications Manager of  Freelancer, recently talked about getting PR for your startup as part of the StartCon Leadership series.

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