Right at the end of August, we had the honor of participating in Maria 01’s PR ABC event. Together with the wonderful Kim Oguilve from Revieve and Anna Brchisky from Zero Four, we got to talk about PR for early-stage companies.
What is the role of media relations in growing brand awareness and positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry? What is the modern way for growth companies to do PR?
In this blog, we will share our top 5 takeaways from the event. Despite the event being targeted at early-stage companies, these tips are invaluable for every single company that does PR – whether in-house or with an external PR partner.
1. PR is more than just a one-off campaign
As tempting as it sounds, doing a one-off campaign every once in a while is not the most fruitful way to go. Sure, it might get you some media attention, but in the long run, you will not gain the best possible benefits. PR is continuous work – it takes time and effort.
Some might say that PR is just about writing and publishing press releases. On the contrary, PR takes a lot of interpersonal work. PR is all about communicating with people – be it clients, journalists, or other PR professionals. Pitching stories to journalists once in a blue moon will not make you memorable to anybody – however, consistency and high quality will.
2. Start building relationships with journalists early on
As said, interpersonal relationships are a significant part of PR work. Whether your company is a rising star in the startup ecosystem or you’ve been operating for years and now want to make PR and media visibility a bigger part of your company, building relationships with journalists is crucial.
Even if a journalist doesn’t publish your piece of news, make sure to keep in touch with them and also share your future story suggestions with them – as long as it’s something you think they could be interested in. This way, they will remember your name and the chances of you getting in the press the next time around are higher.
3. Pitch your story to journalists before sending out the press release
By pitching your story to journalists under embargo, you’re more likely to get your story in the media. Pitching gives journalists more time to react to your news and organize their workday accordingly. Journalists may also want to interview the media contacts for your company, so give them enough time to do interviews before the embargo lifts.
What is the appropriate time period for pitching? We recommend a good two weeks. This way, you have time to pitch to journalists and find further contacts if the person you contacted first is out of office or their schedule is already packed. So, this also gives you more playtime to contact other journalists if need be. Also, at several editorial offices, journalists need to pitch the articles they want to work on to their managing editor. Make sure to give them time to do exactly that!
Pitches should be short and sweet – make sure to include the news in the very first sentence. Using bullet points is a good idea. This way, the content is skimmable and thus easier to read.
4. PR newswires are a great addition, but they shouldn’t be the core of your press relations
As said, we don’t recommend just sending out a press release and hoping for the best. PR newswires are an important tool for hosting your press release online, but without pre-pitching, your press releases aren’t as likely to get posted in media outlets.
It’s important to evaluate all your stories and decide what the best approach is. Sometimes, a press release isn’t the way to go, but you might consider sending a briefing document to a handful of key journalists, turning the topic into an exclusive interview pitch, or look into guest article opportunities.
5. When you have nothing to announce, rely on thought leadership articles and op-eds
Even if you have nothing to announce, you should still make sure you put that PR work in! Thought leadership articles are a great way to keep up your media visibility. They can be written about multiple different topics from different angles – what more could you possibly want?
With thought leadership pieces, you are able to talk about topics you might not usually cover in news stories. Guest articles don’t always need to cover an urgent news story, but they can provide more in-depth ideas about a trend in your company’s industry. A well-placed guest article can lead to additional opportunities, like being invited to events as a keynote speaker!
Furthermore, thought leadership articles are a great way to bring out the people in your company. Someone might know a surprising amount of information on a topic you may not have thought of before, and someone else is a great advocate for talking about company values, for example.
Like with any PR work, having a clear plan on how to bring your key individuals out as experts in your field is crucial when it comes to thought leadership pieces. Planning is key!