Public relations can be a delicate balancing act. If your business does PR right, it could skyrocket in popularity overnight. If, however, you run afoul of public opinion, you may find your company falls as fast as it grew.
Startups, especially, may be at a disadvantage. They don’t have dedicated PR firms behind them and have to develop unique ways to engage the public that get them noticed and ensure their relevance. For a discussion on some of the methods startups may not have considered, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share what they’d recommend to boost PR efforts and how these approaches can result in a better company image.
1. Zero In On The Right Media
In an effort to get your brand out there, the importance of zeroing in on the right media is often lost. Especially as a startup, it can be tempting to invest in every media outlet available and try to reach everyone who will listen. But not all media will be right for your brand. You have to make sure that the ones you choose truly speak to your target audience. Start by researching each media outlet you’re considering. If it seems like it would be a good fit for the direction and goals of your brand, then move forward with creating personal relationships and investing in content creation. Taking the time to do your research before diving in will ensure you invest in the right media platforms so your public relations efforts reach the right audience and provide the most value. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
2. Leverage Word-Of-Mouth
One of the most powerful public relations weapons for startups is word-of-mouth. Most of the time, business owners focus their efforts on paid marketing and advertising. While it’s also good to invest in that, word-of-mouth can get your message across without the expense of advertising. One way to generate word-of-mouth is through publicity. You can do this through product giveaways, media releases and special events. Another way is to make sure that you take care of your customers by delivering consistently great customer service so that they’ll spread the word about your products and excellent service, providing an edge over your tough competitors. – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
3. Use Local Influencers
Find the people online who align with your brand. Search out blogs, podcasts and Instagram to see who would be interested in what your company offers. Influencers are always looking for new content and they can provide an affordable source of press and, ultimately, new customers. There are so many niche influencers out there; tapping into their following results in quick exposure and thousands of eyes on you and your organization. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity
4. Make Use Of Social Media
Public relations nowadays is not all cold email pitches and rubbing elbows with journalists. Marketing and PR are nearly synonymous. Don’t overlook the power of social media. Whether it’s posting to Instagram Stories or writing native articles on LinkedIn, social sharing is a powerful and cost-effective way to get your name and your business’s name out there. You can network as much as possible, send hundreds of emails and so forth, but if your company isn’t offering any substance or value past that first interaction, your PR efforts aren’t going to go far. – Shay Berman, Digital Resource
5. Work With Various PR Experts
Every PR person has their own unique list of media contacts, as well as different levels of creativity (in their pitch) and rapport (with existing journalists and bloggers). You shouldn’t expect that a single agency, in-house rep or PR freelancer can support your brand’s publicity efforts in all markets as effectively as multiple specialists would. This is especially true if you have a presence in different markets, regions or cities since it takes a lot of experience and on-the-ground knowledge to effectively do PR in Oregon versus Arizona. In big states like Texas, you may even need separate PR folks that understand Houston and Austin since the media markets are completely different in both cities too. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
6. Sponsor Relevant Events
If you can sponsor an event that has a good impact-related focus, then you can do a lot of good for your brand and carry a strong message across based on the association. That’s just the branding value obviously. The inherent good is more than enough reason to take action on this type of activity, and with the large volume of virtual events now, it’s easier to get in on it and at a lower cost than with a live event. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
7. Join Relevant Forums And Roundups
A startup needs to build its PR efforts by joining relevant forums and participating in expert roundups. Join a platform like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You’ll get questions from different publications and journalists and this will give you the opportunity to share your perspective. If your answer gets chosen, you’ll have your answer published on different websites and get good quality backlinks to your website. You’ll need to put in some effort to find forums that you can join. Writing for them takes work too. But the result is that you’ll build your online presence and brand yourself, creating positive PR. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
8. Create Free Audience Resources
Startups can build positive PR by creating free resources for their audience. This can be in the form of instructional blog posts, video courses, how-to content and more. Think about problems that your customers face and the needs they have. By creating a resource for them to find information, you’re providing a solid form of service and you could boost your SEO at the same time. Launch a series of blog posts or make a video on an area in your business where people struggle. Doing this will win people over and act as a form of PR. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner