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The Impact team is pleased to share the best public relations advice we gathered from Tim Tsoriev during our workshop entitled “PR, Communication and Brand Awareness”.
Tim Tsoriev is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Strategic Relations at Socialbakers, a social media software analytics partner to thousands of enterprise and SME companies, including over 100 companies on the Fortune Global 500. He has spent 14 years in corporate relations and nearly 20 years working in the media realm.
So if you are a tech startup aiming to launch in the U.S., here are some actionable insights to nail your press launch!
Set your goals before defining the type of publications you need
First of all, you need to decide what you want to achieve through your PR campaigns. Are you pursuing more customers or partners? Are you looking to raise a new round of funding? Your answers to these questions will help you choose where to start. Most tech startups are looking for rapid recognition in the startup and VC world. Two types of publications are recommended to start for this purpose:
In other words, you need to first secure coverage in your specific industry before elevating the conversation and targeting national and international publications such as USA Today or The NY Times. Also, keep in mind that for every industry there are typically only one or two people that cover your domain of expertise.
Build relationships and talk directly to reporters
Remember that the U.S. is unique. In Europe, when you are working in communications, you most often need agencies. It’s impossible to cover every country because of different languages, different medias and different reporters. In the U.S., 320 million people speak the same language and there are only a handful of publications and reporters.
So having an agency or a consultant that helps you refine your strategy and your approach can be valuable, but reporters also appreciate when founders talk to them directly! Don’t be afraid to take the initiative when reaching out to media outlets. You are the most valuable PR resource for your company – no consultant, no agency could replace you!
Manage PR in-house as much as possible
After the first year or so, if your company is large enough you should hire 1 to 3 people full-time to run PR. Due to high turnover in PR agencies, your contacts are at risk of leaving, taking the relationships you have forged with them. With people in-house, you don’t need to start over and over again, making it a more effective strategy in the long-run.
Good news or good angle, that’s the rule
Try to be unique with your story. Messaging is important but try to create interesting and unexpected stories. Bear in mind that reporters love when you :
– Use large events to make yourself more relevant and more interesting to the audience. Superbowl ads epitomize the power that big events can deliver: Death Wish Coffee Death Wish Coffee saw its web traffic double after winning a free super bowl ad. Of course, the news was relayed by many reporters, driving even more brand awareness.
– Challenge the status quo, look to disrupt an industry, a competitor or a market. Elon Musk’s views on the perils of artificial intelligence and his fear of machine-learning’s progress can be a relevant exemple:
Establish an orderly process to prepare your campaigns in the U.S.
1. Decide on what your strategy is.
2. Launch your first campaign jointly, either with a strategic partner or using the name of your strategic customers.
3. Prioritize: put together a shortlist of 7 media outlets you want to work with that will get you the most potential coverage and begin negotiating with them. Tell them a couple of weeks prior to a major announcement that you’re willing to give them an exclusive.
4. Get help if you can: when seeking out a consultant or an agency, don’t necessarily settle for a large agency – find somebody that understands your market.
As much as possible, try to give the impression you are communicating something new
To follow this rule, you should communicate through different regional publications and in different languages if necessary.
Keep in mind the strong correlation between PR, social media marketing and demand generation
PR generates press coverage which is a great way to shape your reputation and your public perception. If you have a good reputation, your potential customers are more likely to choose your product. Press coverage is a tool that you should use as a resource in demand generation and social media marketing. PR and demand generation work in conjunction.
Do your networking homework
When you don’t have something groundbreaking to share, you need to keep your eyes and ears open to stories and trends outside your company. Do your networking homework. If you are planning to launch a new product in 3 months, use these 3 months to identify the 5 or 7 reporters most important for your company and reach out in advance. Very soon these connections will pay off.
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