When you’re building a product or a service company, trying to focus on increasing the quality of what you’re selling, trying to build your sales team and looking at securing funding, the last thing you probably are thinking about is doing PR.
More common are the entrepreneurs who would love media coverage but can’t afford to hire for it or are tight on internal resources to manage the process.
Prioritizing your business initiatives is important as every minute is valuable to entrepreneurs, but ignoring PR as a resource to grow your business is a faux pa. Just 10 minutes a day can get you great headlines.
If you’re reading business press or tech trades, you are probably reading writers who cover your industry and competitors. Start with the reporters you know – and by know, I mean their style, what they like to cover, how they frame a story. Then hit the email.
Reporters love when they hear directly from companies, especially the CEO. Don’t think you’re above reaching out to a reporter, build a personal relationship and its yours for life. Furthermore, try to be as customized as possible.
When drafting a pitch, there is a lot to remember in terms of getting through the crowded nature of a reporter’s inbox. First, and potentially the most obvious is the subject line. Don’t make it too sales oriented, if it sounds like you’re pushing a used car, a reporter will likely get turned off.
Also, if you have a valuable resource in the pitch, bring it to the top and make mention of it in the subject line. For example: New data says BlackBerry apps will outgrow iPhone by 2012. And in the first line of the email state the data and the source, then get to the meat of your angle and where your company comes in.
You might want to start off as well letting the reporter know you read their coverage regularly. Nick, I caught your piece in Newsweek about the Flip Camera, I was impressed with your angle about the future uses of mini camcorders. Similarly, we develop free open source software for PC computers that takes mobile video from cell phones and contextualizes it for search. Given that Blackberry is poised to outsell iPhone, our PC capability is important to our growth.
Then go right into why this is important to today. There are a lot of angles you can take a conversation over email with a reporter, focusing on the product is just one of them. Think about what you’re a thought leader on – can you speak to the growing space of BlackBerry mobile apps? Have you seen iPhone app developers struggle with a crowded and unfair App Store? Do you have a vision for the enterprise benefiting from mobile apps? Thought topics like this give you a reason to write a reporter and to help gain their interest.
Follow up is key. Take 10 minutes, write your emails and make a few calls. Keep it focused, keep articles and reporters you like in a list and reach out to a few at a time so it’s manageable.
To find out reporter’s contact information, try free alternatives to press databases. Also, do your homework, some reporters have preferences on how they like to be contacted. If you connect over email, connect over LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter instantly. Striking while the iron is hot has never been more important. Remember though that building the relationship is key, so if you chat with a reporter and find something else that might interest them, or you have a comment, keep those coming and let the reporter know you’re paying attention.
Also, if you can, dedicate someone to write press releases. I don’t care what the hype says, the press release is not dead and for less than $300 you can distribute these over PRWeb or another provider. It not only helps disseminate your messages, but it also helps with keeping you in front of a reporter who is tracking your industry or market place. It also gives you another reason to reach out to reporters.
Another activity you can do for 10 minutes a day is read blogs and comment on blogs in your industry. Give your point of view and do it early so that your comment isn’t buried. Reporters will start to pick up on who you are and the value you can add to a story. It also helps attract sales leads in the process.
Get into a routine and dedicate just 10 minutes daily to doing something PR-oriented. It will help you immensely with growing your business, adding headlines to your media room and providing sound commentary on topics that are important to your start-ups growth.
Nicole Messier is the CEO of Portfolio PR Group located in Tech Valley, the Capital Region of New York and has held management positions at SHIFT Communications, Edelman and A&R Partners in Silicon Valley.