A Startups Guide to Public Relations 

By: Grace Decicco, 1903 Public Relations

Congratulations! You just embarked on a new business venture, now what? Every new business comes with the expected, but endless responsibilities. With tasks like building your client roster, hiring on team members and getting your business in order, introducing Public Relations (PR) may not be at the top of your priority list; however, you might regret it in the long run if you are not including it in your overall business strategy. 

When it comes to creating a positive image and brand awareness, PR can tilt the scales, elevating your business and reaching potential customers faster than you thought possible. PR for startups is about laying the foundation to help develop your company’s persona. By solidifying who you are as a business, building relationships with the media, and setting realistic expectations, your business can reach new heights – even in its earliest days.

Define Your Messaging And Find Target Audience

The most basic PR initiative is developing your key messaging. What benefit do you deliver? What makes your business standout from competitors? How do you want to be perceived by the public? Having clear and consistent messaging will help you establish your business voice and clearly articulate why your potential customers should buy from you.

Knowing who your customers are is equally crucial to your success. Find who your target audience is and where to reach them. Whether it be through industry specific publications or social media platforms, there are endless resources to help land your product in the right spotlight. Understanding the demographics of the audience you want to reach is the key to not only selling your product, but also selling your business.

Make Connections With Media Professionals

PR is all about building relationships with media professionals (a.k.a. reporters) and to make sure you’re spending your time with the right ones takes time researching industry specific publications. Offering valuable content such as exclusive stories or subject matter expert (SME) insights can help establish your business as a trustworthy source and potentially drive more coverage for your brand. 

Most media professionals get hundreds of pitches a day that do not necessarily fit into their specific coverage area. Email pitches that are sent without any thought tend to get overlooked or even placed right into the trash/spam pile. Making sure you take the time to thoroughly research what your news is and how it fits into the writer’s coverage area will increase your odds of getting a response and coverage.

While pitching your story is important, it is equally valuable to interact with media professionals outside of formal business outreach. No one likes it when someone reaches out to them solely for their own personal gain. It’s no different for reporters, journalists, and editors. Whether you connect on their social platforms or interact with their work, making genuine connections with media professionals can help build rapport and strengthen relationships.

Be Patient: It’s Not A Sprint, But A Marathon 

It is important to remember that PR is not an overnight solution. The odds of your business landing a feature in The New York Times without putting in constant work is unlikely. It is not impossible to achieve if you put in the effort over time. To see results and receive your desired coverage, you have to be patient. As time goes on, being able to tweak your outreach strategy and make the appropriate changes based on feedback and media interaction is vital to ongoing, long-term success. PR is a continuous process of building relationships, refining your messages, responding to news cycles/trends and having realistic goals.

As you continue on your startup journey, remember to enjoy the ride and embrace the opportunities as they come. PR has the ability to target your audience with relevant messages from trusted sources, if you have time to do the research and patience to develop the relationship. By integrating PR into your overall business strategy you can create a positive image for your startup and establish the platform for future success.

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