PR for Startups: How to Get People Interested in Your Brand

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Building a reputation for your startup is critical — here’s how to master media

In the world of startups, every move is important: that call with an investor, your elevator pitch, even your company name can make or break a fledgling company. Of course, when you’re just starting out and your budget is tight, or you haven’t quite nailed down your target market, building brand awareness can be tough. Here’s how taking the skills from a communications pro’s handbook can help you earn engagement and create a following that drives potential clients to your business.

Make your Story Sellable

If there’s one thing that PR pros have down, it’s telling the right story at the right time. Startups interested in building their brand should take note: not only should their business have a clearly defined purpose, they should also be able to concisely deliver the message behind their company. Think equal parts product and people.

Although your startup founder or team might have the mission statement down pat for pitch night, keep in mind the audience. Here, startups need to think like their customers, not necessarily their investors. What makes their brand worth buying into? What gives it staying power? A startup will often have to over communicate these benefits to bring new clients on board and provide a good storyline for a journalist to pick up on and run with.

Make Content Marketing Work

You might not have the budget to invest in a PR company, so don’t. One important thing that startups often miss as they try to earn media coverage is the fact that building up content can demonstrate thought leadership. In fact, this tactic will actually do far more to boost credibility and awareness than a pricey paid aid or general newswire. Because a lot of startups are bootstrapping their funds, content marketing is a great way to solve the age-old problem of “starting from scratch.”

With a SEO-savvy (search engine optimization) content calendar, you can make your own site a place of insight and importance in your industry, whether it’s tech-forward or healthcare-focused. Running out of ideas? Don’t wait for opportunities to land at your feet. See if you can offer to byline an article on another company’s website, cross share your content on LinkedIn, or reach out to a local startup organization about the possibility of sharing your piece. Once you have a foundation, it becomes easier to build up a presence online.

Use Networking to Your Advantage

As a startup, you’re familiar with the tight-knit community of investors, entrepreneurs and community builders who make up your network. Even though you might feel more comfortable talking to like-minded tech-friendly people, it’s equally important to extend your network to media contacts. Reaching out to journalists with a well-timed, personalized message is just one way to start building important business relationships. You can even try offering media a chance to tour your cool office or try your product–think of the things you already do well. Another is looking to community resources like Rev1 Ventures, JumpStart or Bounce Hub among others in Ohio, to pick their brains about possible media opportunities. Using a tenacious, startup mindset and applying it to building important relationships is a necessary part of building brand awareness.

Handle Social with Care

A startup without a social presence should begin implementing a social plan as soon as possible. And, with your company just getting started, don’t assign just anyone to handle your social accounts. These will convey to customers your most immediate sense of brand identity and should be managed with care. Here, your goal is to create a space that customers will come to recognize and respect. Think about how Wendy’s has a distinct brand voice or how Aware uses gifs to respond to customers.

A good place to start is by feeling out your industry’s social space: perform a competitor analysis and see how and what other brands are posting on their social. Are they using the platform exclusively for thought leadership? Do they talk about events, show themselves having fun? Use this research to develop a plan for your company’s core messaging and then start posting. With regular, relevant posts and a network of companionable followers, you’ll soon start to build that all-important brand identity that people will begin to associate with your startup.

Like the startup journey, PR strategy takes time. But with diligence and a hunger for building your brand, startups can begin to drive audiences to action.

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