HomeKnow-HowReady-to-go media relations strategies for startups to boost success

Ready-to-go media relations strategies for startups to boost success

For many startups, media relations hits the backburner. Left to bubble away on its own as other marketing and PR activities take priority. Then, for those that do create a strategy to communicate with the media, they are mainly chasing publicity around investment rounds or new partnerships. Although that helps establish the startup position among other tech or VC players strategy-wise, media relations should go beyond that.

Media appearance positively impacts a company’s credibility and legitimacy with press contacts.

If well-crafted, PR helps attract customers or candidates and can have an impact on M&A. One study of young tech companies shows that media reputation can have a positive effect on the amount of VC funding they receive.

To kick off PR outreach, startups should craft a clear story about their company, why it was founded, and what its goals are. This lays the groundwork for pitching to media. 

There are many different approaches that a startup can take to media relations – and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. But, there are some tried and tested methods that we think are worth considering. So, let’s take a look at the strategies all small companies can use from the get-go.

CEO at the centre

That strategy works best for startups led by charismatic CEOs who are natural storytellers.

It’s best to start with social media. If you’re a CEO reading this material, your profiles have to include information about work experience, a short bio, and a high-quality headshot/cover photo depending on the platform. Post regular news about your startup. This will help you build your network and get spotted by journalists. Content that is based on market observations, updates on a startup’s traction, hitting key milestones, or reaching goals gain the most media publicity. 

Industry blogs or opinion sections work the same way but require a bit more time spent on writing. Here I’d recommend focusing on sharing your views about the industry, your tips on doing business, or original data-driven comments. Prepare a list of a few media places that are crucial for your industry and where your target audiences are. Start writing. You don’t need to represent a Pulitzer Prize-winning writing style as long as your views are attention-grabbing and clearly written. 

Your story idea can be pitched as a proposal for an op-ed or a byline with you as an author. That helps you build your media coverage portfolio which is often considered by journalists when selecting experts for their articles or podcast hosts when looking for their guests. 

Thought leaders 

A startup’s thought leaders strategy can be extended to several experts and doesn’t have to include a CEO, especially when they are simply not cut out for it. Even more so, having several people qualified to comment on specific aspects of a startup’s business at the media’s disposal increases the chances of attracting the journalists’ attention covering various angles.

Make a list of thought leaders who are willing and capable of being the company’s spokespeople. Determine what they’re interested in and passionate about and together assign them the business field to comment on. They should then be encouraged to build their media presence. To do this, they can follow the tactics mentioned in the section above. 

The list of experts at the media’s disposal can be published in your startup’s online newsroom and/or incorporated into your startup’s media kit to be handy for editors anytime. Be sure that each expert’s signature includes links to their social media profile, crucial media coverage, and how to reach them.

Real customer stories 

This strategy puts a startup’s product or service in the centre of PR and focuses on trade media where their target groups are. Product media relations don’t promote a product as one of a kind but concentrate on how the product solves customers’ issues or has a positive impact on their lives. 

When presenting your solution to the media, go beyond press releases about its new functions. The material that gains the most publicity is your customers’ success stories presenting the real-life use of your products and, most importantly, the results/life improvements achieved thanks to them. Those stories are commonly used in trade magazines. Starting with smaller trade publications fosters a startup’s brand and gets its name out to mainstream outlets. 

A mix of them all works best 

If you can’t decide which of these strategies fits the media purposes for your startup, you can mix them. Experimenting with different approaches will reinforce your efforts and will pinpoint the best tactics for your startup’s current stage. The important thing to remember (and this applies to the above-mentioned ideas), once your material gets media attention, share it widely and make sure all your key stakeholders see it.

Hiring a public relations agency isn’t always necessary, especially for startups on a budget. PR teams who can really help young companies tend to be very expensive and for resource-tight startups, there are other options to explore. 

Media activity is only one part of the communication strategy that should always keep pace with the rest of a company’s growth.

If you want to succeed, you need to have the skills to tell your story effectively, but also have a compelling story to tell.

Patrycja Bilinska
Patrycja Bilinska
Patrycja Bilińska is a Poland-based writer. She's interested in incorporating effective communication tactics into a startup's business strategy. She covers the Polish innovation scene with a particular emphasis on stories about the people behind the most emerging local startups. Her passions also include discovering climate tech and sustainable agriculture tech companies.

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