It feels great to secure media coverage for your company, but unless your public relations efforts are tied to a business goal it often doesn’t lead to a useful outcome — aside from allaying your parent’s fears that you don’t have a real job.
Often, the premise behind startups implementing public relations activities and media outreach is not completely obvious. Here are seven feasible objectives behind PR activities alongside tips on how to apply them to your public relations strategy.
1. Customer acquisition
This is the most common reason startups seek press, but it’s often misguided, or expectations are set too high. Viral and word-of-mouth marketing are usually more powerful channels for startups, but press is a great way to start the viral loop.
Jason M. Lemkin, the CEO and founder of EchoSign wrote that press, “mainly TechCrunch” along with networking, “over time generated perhaps 25 percent of our first $100k [in annualized revenue] directly or indirectly.” After about a year, EchoSign’s top source of new revenue was viral.
Where to target: Develop relationships with consumer and trade magazine, blogs and news outlets that your perspective customers read and watch. A company that offers products targeted at small businesses may pitch to business publications while a sports app would target sports titles.
2. Boost SEO rankings
If you know anything about search engines, you know your company websites’ page rank will improve as more credible sites link to it. Gaining press coverage across a verity of media outlets is a great way to build links.
If this is your goal, make sure the media outlet actually links to your company’s website. If they don’t, email the journalist after the article is published and politely ask them to add a link to your mention or quote.
It’s even better if you can gain links from articles that have SEO friendly-titles. For example, Muck Rack still gets a lot of traffic from a 2009 article on Journalistics entitled “Where to Stalk Journalists on Twitter,” since people keep discovering it for the first time via search.
Where to target: Focus on low-hanging fruit to build a lot of links. It’s often easier to get a quick hit in a publication’s online-only blog rather than its print or TV arms.
3. Build credibility and trust
Many companies list the press outlets that have covered them on their homepage. Even popular iPhone games will list press quotes on their App Store pages. If they still need a credibility boost despite their tremendous scale, your tiny startup might too.
Where to target: Go for targeted outlets with strong brand recognition. For example, gaining a mention and or a full feature in a print or broadcast outlet can be leveraged to build social proof on your company’s website homepage.
4. Attract advertisers
If you are a programmer building an ad-supported business, you will soon learn that media buyers (i.e. agency professionals that buy advertisements on behalf of advertisers) don’t read Hacker News to learn how to do their job better like you do. They read their own set of “ad rags” aimed at the Mad Men (and women) of today to get fresh ideas about who to include in their next buy.
Even ubiquitous companies like Facebook and Twitter with little to gain in general notoriety from media will put a tremendous amount of effort to getting the right kind of coverage in Ad Age.
Where to target: Target industry trade magazines that media buyers and advertisers read such as Ad Age, Mediaweek, Adweek and Digiday.
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