The phrase 'if you build it, they will come' is often a strong inspiration for many start-up businesses. Realistically though, if no one knows about 'it' (your product or service) or how 'it' will affect/improve their life, it will be difficult to secure enough customers to stay afloat.
For start-ups or for any company with a small marketing budget, PR is an extremely important tool because it can create awareness of your product/service and the benefits offered at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. Not only is public relations less expensive than advertising, it is also more credible with potential customers as it is often viewed as a third-party endorsement of your product/service (as it comes from a trusted third-party -- a journalist).
Even still, PR is often a low priority for many companies simply because most business owners do not think they have the time or money to develop and execute an effective PR strategy... but it doesn't have to be that way. Effective PR can be undertaken on a small or even non-existent marketing budget (if you are willing to do the work yourself).
There are several PR strategies and tactics that are both inexpensive and simple to implement. These tools should help your company be able to effectively create awareness and, more importantly, shorten the sales cycle. For a start-up, these three PR tactics will be useful for accomplishing these two very important goals, without breaking the bank.
The more stories that you can tell about your company, the more visible your brand will be. There is always a story to tell for every company, so be creative. Think about the problem that your product or service solves and explain why your product/service is valuable to your end-user. Has your product/service changed the industry in any way (positively) or does it signal a new trend in your industry? If so, tell media about it!
Some other ideas...
- Consider pitching publications on a feature on your CEO and his/her expert opinion on an industry topic related to your company's offering.
- Create a list of important upcoming dates that could be a fit for your company. For example, hotels can create a list of all of the most popular travel dates for their destination and, prior to those dates, reach out to media to inform them about any special packages or promotions offered.
Embrace Editorial Calendars
Most print publications create an annual editorial calendar - a schedule of the main topics covered in each upcoming issue of the publication throughout a calendar year. Editorial calendars are typically posted online in a publication's media kit (or advertising kit) and are issued close to the end of the year, for the upcoming year.
Be proactive and examine as many editorial calendars as possible. Keep an ongoing list of upcoming opportunities that are suitable for your company and always ensure that you submit your pitch as early as possible before the journalist's deadline. By doing so, you will have a greater chance of being included in the article.
Speaking Opportunities: Keynotes, Panels and Presentations
It is absolutely worth registering to attend industry events and conferences, but it is even more beneficial to secure speaking opportunities during the conference. Speaking engagements greatly increase your visibility during the event -- both to potential customers and media -- and they are valuable in establishing your credibility in your industry.
To secure a speaking opportunity at an upcoming industry conference/event, you will need to do the following:
- Make a list of all conferences (locally, nationally and internationally) that are related to your industry. Ensure that the people who attend the event are your ideal customers to ensure the highest ROI from your attendance.
- Finding out the deadlines for submission and what the application will consist of. Often, you will be required to write up a specific pitch, which highlights the topic that you are suggesting and which outlines your expertise in the topic.
- Submit the application as early as possible, but most definitely, before the application deadline.
- Feel free to follow up with the event organizers to find out the status of your application, but only after the deadline passes.
Trade journalists often attend these events looking for news stories (and some larger events even have entire issues dedicated to covering the event and its attendees), so reach out to the event organizers and request a list of media that are registered to attend. Once you have the list, email the media and suggest a face-to-face interview and demo of your product, which could yield an opportunity to be included in an upcoming story. Remember to focus on what makes your company, product or service of interest to the industry as a whole, or what is innovative/different about your offering.
Effective PR should be accessible to every business no matter its size, budget or goals. Your company doesn't have to miss out on the huge marketing benefits of PR because you have a small marketing budget. The time is now to begin executing an effective PR strategy at the right price for you.
Need some help getting started with your new PR campaign?
jlnpr has created a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) PR package to provide all of the necessary PR resources, media contact lists and strategic planning for companies who want to handle their own PR in-house but who don't have extensive experience in public relations. The package provides companies with the proper tools to successfully execute their PR strategy without breaking the bank, as it outlines in step-by-step detail that activities that should executed, the key story angles (customized for each company) and the specific day-to-day/week-to-week timeline for its implementation. With this package, the company simply has to follow the step-by-step instructions to ensure that their PR campaign is as effective as possible, without breaking the bank.
To find out more about the DIY PR package, contact me at email@example.com.
About the Author
Jennifer Nagy, President of jlnpr, is a seasoned public relations professional with a passion for the hospitality industry. At jlnpr, she works with companies to increase awareness of their property/product and get their story in front of the audiences that will have a direct impact on their bottom line. jlnpr works with international travel clients in the travel technology, hotel, airline, cruise and meeting/event industries. For more information about jlnpr, please visit www.jlnpr.com or contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.