Launching a startup is hard enough, and while going through this process in 2020 might seem like a truly daunting task, it is possible. In fact, we asked three industry experts to weigh in on PR’s importance to successfully supporting a startup in 2020.

Our recent webinar featured:

  • Anthony Ha, senior writer at TechCrunch and cohost of the Original Content podcast
  • Hailey Melamut, account supervisor for leading tech companies at March Communications in Boston and Atlanta
  • Dan Beltramo, CEO of Onclusive, a PR measurement and analytics company

Here are their takeaways:

1. Timing is everything. Timing your PR efforts should coincide with where your company is in the early stage of the launch process. The impact of public relations is most valuable after the company can show commercial viability and real-world impact. Laying the groundwork takes time, and includes:

  • Defining your story and where your company fits into the world at large
  • Seeding your narrative to garner early use cases
  • Developing media relationships in advance of launch
  • Building your plan, by mapping potential PR activity around known company milestones
  • Initiating thought leadership programming to increase brand mindshare in your space

2. Know thy audience. When it comes to launching a startup and your PR campaign, you need to know your core and secondary audiences on a granular level and the role your solution plays in their lives. This information shapes your PR program – from your talking points to the publications and reporters you want to pitch.

3. Leverage your contacts. One way to increase the visibility of your startup is to leverage high-profile employees or investors. These names not only validate your business, they can help generate real interest in what you do. However, they should never be the sole face of your business and should not replace your own team’s experts, who are best prepared to talk in-depth about your solution.

4. Know when to hire a PR pro or agency and how to work with them. The timing of hiring an in-house individual, freelancer or agency depends on your current staffing model and company stage. Once the needs become apparent, you want to find the right person or agency for your start up. Some startups will hire someone in-house to oversee and manage the program while others may find that hiring a contractor or agency allows their internal teams to focus on more pressing matters. For those hiring external partners, the secret to a successful relationship is transparency and communication. The more data you can provide your communications partner, the more options and ideas they can work with.

5. Know your media. Anthony Ha noted, “I have yet to meet a CEO who didn’t want a big story about their company in the New York Times.” But rarely are these national publications the main news source for their startup’s product buyers. Allocate your time and resources wisely. Focus your PR efforts on the publications, reporters, experts and audiences that drive directly to your top goals.

6. Know how to react to "bad" coverage. Sometimes good reporters write bad coverage – this could be mistaken facts (if so, contact the reporter for a correction) or a lackluster review. Review each coverage piece separately to identify where you can adjust your messaging or approach and move forward. Reacting in such a forward-looking way could yield positive coverage in the next round of communications.
Launching a startup is not easy, but with effective PR, when done correctly, can help startups maximize opportunities and resources, driving visibility and achieving goals.

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