The Importance of PR for Tech Startups

By: Yuexin Qu, Account Supervisor at PRLab 

October 15, 2018 

When people don’t understand the importance of PR, they won’t invest their money in partnering with PR firms. However, PR is vital for startups’ overall growth and future development. Good PR can help startups shape positive public images and establish social media and traditional media networks. Even Bill Gates said: “If I had one dollar left, I would spend it on PR.” Good PR helps the startup increase a company’s reputation, and will eventually lead to monetary growth and increased sales.

For startups, a main goal is to grow their audience and increase brand awareness. However, it is undeniably challenging especially when facing against larger, more established businesses. This is the reason why a PR firm or PR professionals in general can become great help for startups. First word of caution, PR has its own cadency, unless a startup has its story and product or service securely buttoned up, its founders shouldn’t take the PR road alone. The worst thing a startup can do it to go out prematurely and receive negative press. It’s like getting gum on the shoes, once it sticks, it’s hard to get off. For a long time, startup will be saddled with negative images.

But how can startups utilize PR? What do PR representatives need to know when working on behalf of startups? Here are some tips that you always want to keep in mind.

  1. Identify a goal. Identifying the startups goal and defining key messages are important to help get on the right track. Startup goals can include increasing qualified website visitors, attracting new customers, or building brand awareness. Once there are clear goals, you will build a coherent and accessible message. Ask yourself some of these questions: What do you want people to remember about your business? Why should anyone care? What’s your key selling point?
  2. Implement PR storytelling. PR storytelling gives you the power to connect with your audience on an emotional level. You can always use this emotional connect to engage with the journalist. Storytelling begins even before you choose your pitch topic. Just make sure that you think from a journalist’s point of view–what would his or her audience want to read? Once you have your topic in mind, create an outline. Writing an outline allows you to see whether your points will capture a reporter or blogger’s interest.
  3. No shortcuts. There are no shortcuts when it comes to PR startup work. It’s a new company with a relative unknown team. Getting press attention as a startup requires persistence and creativity. Don’t just blast emails to every journalist whose contact information you can find. Do your research, and approach every pitch with intelligence and strategy. 
  4. Form relationships. You need to start forming relationships before you need the journalists in your industry. Here are a couple tips: first, interact with them on social media and other groups. Become part of the discussion and contribute to the conversation in a way that is both helpful and obtrusive. And when you have the opportunity to talk to a journalist, don’t promote your brand. Instead, stick to topics that showcase your knowledge and expertise. Let them see you as a person, not just a brand trying to push its own interest.
  5. Stay fresh.  Always try to offer a fresh perspective on your story. Look for alternatives that will give you a leg up on competing stories. This is the opportunity to think outside the box and appeal to journalists and bloggers in a different way than usual.
  6. Use bullet points and white spaces. No journalists want to read large blocks of text, and in fact, it might tempt them to delete your pitch before reading it fully. Avoid this by breaking text into bullet points and small paragraphs that are easy to digest.
  7. Avoid industry jargon. If journalists don’t understand the fundamentals of your pitch, they won’t ask twice. Be sure to write a pitch that everyone can understand. Ask someone outside the industry to read over your pitch before sending it out. If there are any misunderstandings or wandering attention spans, take your pitch back to the drawing board.
  8. Use the right tools. Tools can make all the difference between fine-tuned startup public relations and a PR front-end collision. Here are a few tools that will help: PRWeb, Google Alerts, BuzzSumo, and MuckRack. 

It’s never easy to help startups gain media attention, but always remember that public relations is more effective than branded content at all stages of a buyer’s journey. Just think of some of the most famous startups that are now in the big league: Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox. And there is no coincidence. Each of these companies has leveraged powerful PR tactics to get where they are today.