Think your start-up needs PR? Here are some things to think about before you hire an agency... by Trudy Darwin

Guest blogger: Trudy Darwin, LuminousPR

We have been working with startup businesses for a number of years now and we love the job of steering brilliantly innovative - but often journalistically challenged - start-ups and entrepreneurs along the road to understanding what their story is...and isn�t!

We know how to enhance a message with supporting research and data and the best ways to approach the media.

This stuff comes as second nature to us, but we�ve also realised that the world of the media can all be a bit of a mystery to a new business.

You have the brilliant idea, you have a website, you�re developing your proposition and you are starting to grow your user base. This is an awesome achievement and well done for getting this far!

This is the point where many businesses start to think about building awareness of their brand to help grow user numbers, drive engagement, brand awareness and funding opportunities. And as part of this, they may be thinking about PR as an avenue to explore.

If you are thinking about starting your media outreach, here are here are a a few things to think about before you do:



Make sure your house is in order before engaging with journalists

One of the first things we do with our clients is to evaluate their website to ensure the messaging is clear and concise before journalists are directed to it.

Because you probably haven�t had much time away from building your business, you probably know it far too well to be able to think objectively about how a consumer or jour- nalist understands what you do.

Simplify your voice as much as possible and try to display your messaging in ways that make what you do easy to digest.

Why not use a free external resource to proof-read and give you feedback on your site? Being a member of TechHub gives you access to a great community of experts and entre- preneurs with a wealth of experience and knowledge to tap in to. Use them for feedback wherever you can!



Data is the new black!

Get advice about what kind of insights would be useful to know for PR purposes and media outreach. The more data you have, the more stories you will be able to build.

Building PR-able stories from research and data is a common way for businesses to build strong editorial angles. We work with our client�s data to build interesting stories around new trends, changing behaviours, comparisons, cost savings and market insights. Often this type of media outreach is the most successful way to generate lots of coverage across a variety of sectors.



Case Studies

Get to know WHY your service or product makes a difference to people!

It is important to begin engaging when the very first user or customer come on board. You need to understand and be able to reference why they use your service, what the benefits are and why the service specifically makes a difference to them.

A proper case study provides a journalist with the human-element to support the business angle.

The important thing to note here is that a case study isn�t a testimonial or a quote about how great your product or service is.



Social

You know that social media is valuable to businesses of all sizes and provides a return for a fairly low cost. But we understand that it�s often hard to think about prioritising this over all the other things that you need to do when you are starting out.

But, if you are considering spending money on PR services, we strongly suggest that you invest at least some time in building your social media channels first.

But why, you ask?

PR and social activity compliment each other beautifully and, if applied in a smart way, this
partnership can be used to �big-up� the benefits of media coverage.

Whether print, broadcast or online, the media is very socially influential. So, if a publica- tion is pushing out your content via social channels, this is your chance to capitalise on that buzz.

Using social media in this way will help you engage with prospect customers, build com- munities, drive further awareness and connect with influencers.

But this is very hard to do successfully if you have 10 Twitter followers.

We�re not saying you have to have a community of thousands (because you can grow these pretty quickly) but you do need to be in a position to move quickly when the cover- age breaks to keep the buzz going.



Be a sponge

In those early and very busy stages of the startup journey, it�s really hard to look up from time-to-time and to keep abreast of what is happening in the world that is relevant to you. But try to start a folder containing anything that helps to build a picture about your world so that you can easily pull-out and reference this information in business plans, investment pitches and journalist enquiries.

You can make the collation of this information easy for yourself by setting-up media moni- toring tools - like Google news alerts - for keywords relevant to your business.

It could be relevant research or figures that are released, competitor activity, legislation changes or industry statistics. Whatever you find interesting, create a dossier of useful in- formation that is all ready to delve in to.

Your PR team will also thank you for this forethought when it comes to thinking about building your strategy.



Build PR-planning in to your business plan

You may not be ready to start engaging with journalists for a while, but it�s never too early to plan for media outreach.

A PR person will know how to build a story from very little but it�s hard to get longevity and maximum impact from a campaign by just regurgitating the same story.

Start thinking about all your different messages and angles from an early stage in your business.

Without pre-planning, you may be able to launch and talk about investments, but it�s important to plan what else you can say that gives a fresh perspective and endorses you as a game-changer.

Once that first piece of coverage hits, you should aim to fuel the momentum by engaging with the press regularly. This way journalists get to know who you are, what you are doing and where you fit in the eco-system.

You will be in the best position to build a successful and long-term PR strategy if you think ahead about what resource you have in your armoury to help support your message, and develop regular stories.



If you want to find out more about planning for your PR activity, join LuminousPR for a free 121, at their TechHub Resource Centre, on the Tuesday 10th, December. Register here.