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by Garrett Spence
4/6/2016 9:19:49 AM

Public Relations "PR" for Startups

In a crowded market, especially one like Silicon Valley, Austin, Portland, Minneapolis or other startup markets favored by venture capitalists, getting attention can be tough. When we talk about “PR,” it’s important to define what we’re really talking about. “Public Relations” refers to the art and science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public. Bear in mind that “the public” isn’t the same as seeking funding, taking out a bank loan, or establishing a base of customers. Here, we’re truly talking about how your startup is perceived by the public at large, and what benefits or challenges present themselves by the manner in which your startup is perceived. The goal here is becoming a known brand.

For many new startups, the public relations process begins and ends with a press notice from TechCrunch. While the site is a great media platform and getting the attention of their journalists is no small feat, there is a lot more your startup team can do to make the most of your PR strategy.

Startups that have a great product that customers love have it easy in more ways than one. Aside from the obvious benefit of publicity, these types of operations get free advertising from their customers but more importantly the very nature of the product gives their founders credibility. For startups that haven’t yet settled on a product or service, press coverage can be a huge burden. Press coverage is only really valuable if you’re running a startup that is ready to start increasing its scalability.

Many startups are taking a fresh approach that shies away from a vain attempt to secure media coverage and moving towards a more altruistic approach that focuses on building relationships instead of getting attention. Focusing on human relations instead of media coverage means working hard to establish meaningful social relationships that are built on authentic exchanges of information that subsequently create long-lasting relationships.

The focus of your startup’s PR plan should be about making friends, not contacts. Brands that are ready to focus on their PR strategy should spend time scheduling tweets and posting Facebook updates. This is traditionally known as “inbound marketing,” meaning you’re trying to draw in your audience to an authentic conversation, rather than blasting out your messaging via dramatic public relations tactics and platforms. The important word here is authenticity; just as you must invest in relationships with your customers instead of mindlessly pushing coupons and content on them, you must invest in building genuine relationships with writers and other constituents of your startup.

Remember these Rules:

1. Be Brief – Never leave home without a tight and effective elevator pitch.

2. Be Authentic – Don’t fake familiarity. If you’re genuine, it will show.

3. Actively Listen – Never underestimate the power of listening instead of waiting to speak.

By keeping these rules in mind and concentrating on long-term relationships over immediate gratification, you will achieve greater success in establishing the media coverage you want and need at the time that you need it.

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