5 Ways to Get More Press & Generate Positive PR for Your Startup
We’ve been asked for our publicist’s details quite often this year. Afrocenchix has featured in dozens of publications including The Guardian, The Telegraph, iNews, The Independent & Vogue so other founders have very reasonably asked for the hook up.
The truth is we don’t have a publicist, and we’ve never paid for PR. But we do have some tips we can share.
Before I get into how you can get press, the first question I always ask is: why do you want it? Press coverage isn’t a magic bullet, it won’t necessarily lead to sales. Press coverage as part of a broader marketing strategy is hugely important in establishing credibility and trust when you’re building a brand, but it won’t do the heavy lifting alone.
Getting press can be time consuming so if you need press and have the budget, then a good PR person may be the way to go. For people like us who have a story to get out but very limited budgets, here are 5 DIY tips for getting more press & generating positive PR for your startup.
1. Think of your audience and their goals first
The first question to ask is what do journalists want? The second, what do readers want? Most journalists want to write interesting, important stories that help their readers. Most readers want interesting stories and helpful information. Everything about your brand is interesting to you, it’s not necessarily interesting to a reader that doesn’t know you. If a journalist can’t see an interesting story then there’s no reason for them to spend their limited time talking to you.
Make it easy. Put together a press release that would be objectively interesting to someone who isn’t connected to you. If you sell rocket ships and want to get a tech journo to write about you for their martian reader base, then think about what martians want. They likely don’t care about your 3D printed design. They may care about your grand mission of getting every martian back home and your personal struggle with missing Mars that led you to build a rocket ship start up.
Create a media kit to be prepared!
Once you have a genuinely interesting press release, send it to select journalists and have a media kit ready with hi res images of you, your team, your product and your logo. Update this regularly and have landscape as well as portrait images included, headshots, full length shots, staged shots and candid shots. Make it simple for the publication to choose your images over the multiple other options they’ll invariably have.
2. Focus on giving, not getting
Authenticity is everything. You want journalists and bloggers to write about your product or service cos they genuinely love it. So give them the opportunity to see what’s great about your brand. If there’s a journo in your field whose articles you love, offer to send them your products to try out and ask for their honest opinion with no strings attached. If they love it, they’ll be in touch to hear more about your story.
We’ve gifted journalists who have talked about us to other colleagues and gotten us into major publications that our younger selves dreamed of featuring in.
3. Be visible
Press begets press. If it’s easy to find out about you then you’re more likely to get coverage. The first time Afrocenchix featured on BBC national news, the BBC heard about us because someone retweeted an article I wrote on Huff Post. Had I not written the article and tweeted about it, we wouldn’t have gotten the press. Write well researched think pieces, but don’t stop there. Share them. Everything needs a distribution strategy, no matter how good the content. The goal with the Huff Post article was to help other founders, not to get on the BBC, but the visibility helped us as much as others. The BBC press coverage was major for us in terms of brand recognition. It led to high product sales from across the country, and we weren’t even talking about safe, effective natural hair products; we were talking about the impact of the budget on sole traders and small businesses!
We ended up featuring in local press too off the back of the TV appearance. If you get a feature then it’s always worthwhile to leverage it to get other features. Share it with people who might find it interesting and contact local press to see if they’d like to cover the story too.
4. Build relationships with people, not publications
Our superstar Social Media & Content Lead is fantastic with people and as a result, she gets us a lot of press. Jeanette has maintained relationships with various journalists for years and does a great job with keeping them up to date with happenings at Afrocenchix, this keeps us front of mind for news stories.
We’ve featured in 3 major publications because one journalist we love has written about us at different times and in different stages of her career she worked in different places.
Never use people to get into a publication you like, build genuine relationships and people will want to interview you and share your story.
5. Respect PR professionals
People are often shocked to hear that we’re not yet big enough to have a budget for a PR agency, and want to know how we’ve bootstrapped our way into the news. That’s only part of the story though. We have actually worked with PR companies and freelance publicists when we’ve won awards from their clients.
When we won the WeWork creator awards, their incredible PR team got us features in Forbes, Hackney Gazette, The Voice and other publications. Similarly, winning the Precious awards led to the Precious PR team getting us features in magazines like Stylist. We’ve recently had enormous interest from the press and media and have enjoyed coverage in The Telegraph, City AM, and more publications after winning The Consumer & Luxury Rising Star BBBAward.
Winning awards often comes with a press and publicity package. If you’re nominated for an award respect the process and those who are there to get you, and the award, positive PR and make their lives easy. The more cooperative you are, the more positive press you are likely to get.
Those are my main tips! Overall the most important thing to do is focus on your purpose as a company. If you serve your customers and community, and focus on doing your best work, press will come.