PR is no bullshit and that’s why we’ve asked Remco Janssen, the founder of the award-winning PR agency for startups Proudly Represents, to share why and how to do PR for your startup. Read what he has to say to get a lift off, and if you want, contact him to send you to the moon!
Why PR is no bullshit
Startups are bootstrappers extraordinaire and let’s face it – PR people have a bad rep of selling bullshit. I’ve been doing PR for startups for just about 6 years, and I’ve often had to defend my chosen profession. It won’t surprise you that I’m massively in favour of getting your news-presence sorted early on. I’ve seen time and time again how much can be gained from successful campaigning. It’s mostly the darndest littlest things, like building a solid brand, getting your pitch crystal clear, increasing your customer pool and getting noticed by investors.
1. Rock your 15 minutes of fame
Getting covered by the right media will make you known, getting covered by the media right will make your reputation. Practically nobody is ever going to use a service or buy a product they’ve never heard of. Sure, there’s bound to be one or two crazies who’ll try just about anything, but most people want to be assured they’re buying value. And who better to assure your demographic that your company is worth checking out than a journalist who’s been writing about your niche for the past 15 years?
I’m not just speculating – our clients often see a substantial boost in traffic after a good article, and (more importantly) leads. Hiring the right PR pro will allow you to enjoy your 15 minutes, without having to go through the hell of finding the right journalist who’ll pick up your story.
Which gets me to…
2. Pitch like a boss
Writing is tough, let alone if you’re writing about something you spend every waking second thinking about. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can do to clarify your product, story and brand – especially if the third party does it for a living. A bit of distance goes a long way in remembering why you started your company in the first place. If you’ve had a hard time feeling the fire you had when you started, a good brainstorm will set it back on fire like Michael Bay does to an army of Decepticons.
Figuring out your story for yourself is definitely of immense importance, but it still has to be translated to journalist lingo. Journalists aren’t lazy, they just seriously have no time. Giving them relevant information in an easy to process format ups your chances of being published with like… a gazillion. Just like your grandma’s apple-pie, there’s a recipe for writing a press release. And just like your grandma’s apple-pie, perfecting and tweaking the recipe takes practice and skill. Question is, do you have the time and patience to acquire it?
3. Write a news-worthy story
Ah, then comes the craft of defining ‘news’. Contrary to popular instinct, launches aren’t the only interesting thing for journalists. Actually, there’s a bunch things that they find way more interesting than the launch of a buggy beta – like reaching a critical user mass or securing a large funding round.
Yes, I said it – securing a funding round is important news. American startups will boast here, there and everywhere about the millions they’ve collected in their umpteenth funding round, yet European startups stay awfully quiet. A lot has to do with the more conservative approach many investors take, which often includes a request for founders to remain ‘discrete’. Which is completely counterproductive for a few reasons. First and foremost, a large funding round will almost guarantee a publication. And secondly, spreading the news of successful funding may inspire other investors to take an interest in your startup. Which subsequently leads to a larger chance of success and return of investment. For everyone.
Don’t settle for just anyone, hire the best
Before you reach for your pot of gold to hire the first PR person you run into, take a minute to make sure they’re the one. Whoever you choose to hire: they need to speak both your and the media’s language. About the only startup-not-so-startup that can get away with the worst of press is Uber, so make sure that’s not you.