Here’s something to think about if you hire somebody to look after your start-up’s PR: is it just plain boring?
In many cases, PR agencies will write any old story to tick boxes for their clients and generate arbitrary press coverage. And while general publicity doesn’t do any harm, it often doesn’t have a measurable impact on a start-up’s business performance.
PR activity that’s exciting, opinionated and valuable to other people will always yield future success and new business leads.
PR start-ups should avoid
Before we discuss the type of PR activity start-ups should undertake, it’s worth going over a few classic PR activities start-ups should avoid:
- Digital PR Asking for new followers and ‘likes’ on social media. It’s not a successful tactic to gain popularity on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, it’s often counter-intuitive and not very exciting to read on a news feed.
- Traditional PR Press releases about irrelevant events. Newly installed coffee machines and the hiring of a new part-time receptionist is not effective PR. These sorts of stories do nothing to encourage people to find out more about your business.
- Trade PR Paying for “colour separations”. Here’s a secret. Trade PR is dominated by something colour separations, which means that as long as the publication gets paid by the PR agency or client, they’ll publish any press release they’re given. This results in industry magazines full of promotional copy that nobody reads. Not very good value for money.
PR start-ups should embrace
Start-ups need their PR to have personality and value to put their name on the map and win new business. Here are three examples of PR activity that deliver fantastic results:
- Digital PR Maintaining an exciting blog about your business. This is one of the most effective ways to increase website traffic and website conversions, but it does take a lot of work over a period of time. Quality copywriting, good sharing practices and persistence deliver the goods.
- Traditional PR Press releases about new business wins. Journalists love a good business success story. If your start-up has just landed its first major contract – shout about it. Stories like this provide genuine evidence that the business is doing well. Some good photography can really spice up a press cutting, too. Much better than an advertorial.
- Trade PR Holding trade press events. PR agencies really earn their fee when they build relationships with influential journalists. A great way of doing this is to host a product launch or industry lunch and invite some industry hacks along. It’s a fantastic way of getting to know the people who could do wonders for your start-up in the future.
Lucas Coe is founder of PR99, a PR service for start-ups and small businesses.