7 Common PR Mistakes Startups Make and What to Do Instead
As it turns out, it’s easy to get a startup off the ground if you have a great idea. You form a company, pitch to investors, secure funding, hire employees, and ta-da! you’re officially a founder.
Then comes the hard part: Acquiring customers.
While there are many marketing channels to get the word out about your product or service, a thoughtful PR strategy is among the most important. Keep in mind, PR and advertising, while both under the marketing umbrella, are vastly different.
Advertising is paid promotion. Public relations focuses on strategically communicating to audiences via trusted media outlets with no stake in the game. Most people know when they are being sold to, especially now as social media and digital channels are working overtime to get in front of users and make money doing it. PR is a way brands, including startups, can break through the noise and establish a solid reputation that creates loyal customers.
Here are 7 common mistakes startups make in PR, including what NOT to do if you hope for a successful PR campaign that wows your prospects, establishes a positive brand identity and makes your investors happy.
The Most Common Mistakes Startups Make in PR
- You don’t have a PR plan in place.
You can’t wing it. Instead, you must form a strategic plan for your startup. Consider hiring a PR professional to lay out a strategy that makes sense for your brand. The plan should have goals, audience demographics, targeted media, a crisis management strategy, a social media plan and more. Don’t set unrealistic expectations and expect success overnight. It often takes time.
- You assume every journalist and media outlet wants to cover your story.
Everyone wants their story reported. Build media relationships over time. Do your homework. Get to know new journalists. You can help those getting started while they are helping you get your brand name out. Build a lifelong relationship with media outlets and establish a strong contact on a regular basis.
- You think every detail of your brand is newsworthy.
It’s not. Media hates it when you bug them with a boring-inside-baseball-who-cares story. Pitch the good stuff. Tell your brand story. Look at it as someone reading about it, not as the too-close-to-it founder.
- You’re too wordy in your pitches.
Remember, people are easily distracted. Research shows that attention spans have decreased in the last decade. A journalist is not going to take the time to read a lengthy email about why they should report on your story.
Make it short and sweet, get to the point and make it clear. Why does your business stand out and deserve this extra attention? If you send an email request, be to the point and make sure you have a subject line that makes the recipient want to read it. Remember media outlets and journalists get hundreds of pitches daily.
- You don’t take the timing of your news announcements into consideration.
Be patient. It takes time to create a new brand or product and get it out to the public. Not everything will happen overnight.
It is important to stay current on news and trends, and that is even more true when you are planning to present a new product or feature. Make sure your news is launched when there are not any major events or holidays that will overshadow and thus reduce the attention that you receive. Sometimes waiting leads to better results.
- You fail to include visuals for potential stories.
Journalists are busy. They do not have time to contact you or track down a photo. They must make coverage decisions quickly, so if you send them your story and attach a photo to accompany it, they are more likely to include it. They need you to provide a story that is prepared and ready to go.
Be sure to send press releases to the outlets in editable format and not in PDF form, in case they choose to copy and paste from parts of it. You should also send the image or images in different sizes, so it will fit that publication and so they do not have to spend time editing and adjusting the image.
- You only target national media outlets.
Instead, start small and then go big. You’ll get a stronger response from local media outlets or trade outlets (aka publications with your industry as their target audience). This approach helps you get your message out there and start growing your business before the bigger well-known media outlets take notice. After your story has been shared and your name gets out there, coverage will grow.
How Do I Launch a PR Strategy?
Now that you know what not to do, focus on what to do. As you get started, remember to:
- Develop your brand voice
- Identify your audience
- Create key messages
- Determine what important features make your brand stand out
- Take any details that could threaten your brand messages into consideration
- Determine which publications best match your brand and message
- Research specific journalists and their beats as they relate to your industry
- Take your time and do things right
- Grow your business
- Establish third-party credibility
- Get brand recognition and increase your bottom line
PR is essential to the success of your startup. Make sure your PR plan is on track. Enlisting the help of a PR professional benefits your brand development and business growth. Meeting with experts then asking them to help develop a strategic plan is beneficial to how your business grows. Starting a business without a strategic PR plan is a major mistake that can be devastating to your brand’s future.
You can benefit from putting the extra time and effort into developing your PR plan and holding off on your press releases until the time is right and you have everything properly prepared. By having a strong PR plan and by having your PR and marketing efforts work together seamlessly, you can be rest assured that your business will grow.
Trust Relations Team