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Use PR to Help Launch Your Tech Startup

At the end of every good supply chain are brand new and, hopefully, newsworthy products. As hard as getting the product from design to reality might have been, getting the attention of the press might be just a little bit harder. However, knowing the basic rules will help.

The news media, especially the journalists who cover technology, are fascinated by new companies and startups, especially if the new technology is really cool and interesting. Yes, social media offer wonderful opportunities to get the word out about your company and direction. However, by leveraging the power of technology media — which your cohorts, investors, and potential customers access and read every day — you can greatly increase the word of mouth and knowledge about your company.

Making your case
What makes your startup unique and interesting? To be honest, all budding entrepreneurs think their startup is the most interesting and most fascinating business opportunity that has ever existed. And if you don't think that, you don't deserve to be forming a startup. However, you need to be able to convince the rest of the world that you are going to make a difference.

What problem are you solving? Is this really a problem? Is it a minor problem, or is it a major challenge? A small technology tweak can be very valuable, but it is hard to get cynical industry reporters and writers to care about an upgrade. They are looking for the big picture. Like most other people, the editorial world is basically in WIFM mode: What's in it for me? They are looking for stories that will catch the interest of their readers. The more readers they have, the more eyeballs, the more hits, and the more their publications can charge their advertisers. Yes, it is all about the money.

Reporters really like being the first to the party — the first media person to find and write about your startup. Not only is it a great story for them, but, like most people, they may take a proprietary interest in you and your company, and they may really want to see it succeed. They like hanging out with their peers and boasting about finding a small company that will become the next Google or Facebook.

Help the media to help you
Know what makes your product special and unique. Why is your new product or service so much better than everything else on the market? It is not good enough to be 10% less expensive. Competing on cost alone is not a big attraction — unless, of course, you are cutting the cost of a needed technology by 50% or more.

Once you've established that the new technology is unique and could change the world, make sure it exists. Vaporware is a killer. Yes, delivery can be a few months off, but don't make the claim that the product is available now if you're not even close to production.

Not only will you alienate reporters and ensure that they will never talk to you again, but you will antagonize all the potential customers who saw the news and rushed to your website to buy your product. Be relatively honest about when the product or service will be available to the world. Most reporters are quite cynical. They have seen it all, and they will see easily through BS and untruths. They may not actually confront you in the interview, but your news will never hit their pages.

10 comments on “Use PR to Help Launch Your Tech Startup

  1. t.alex
    April 11, 2014

    Is there any PR platform to help startups outreach to a wide range of audience/customers?

  2. SRSTechPR
    April 12, 2014

    I am not aware of any PR platform that really works effectively. Yes, there are many programs that can send out press releases and news to editors and social networks, but most editors are overwhelmed with these kinds of pitches and do not pay much attention. The most effective way of getting traction with technology editors is by contacting them directly. Crafting a pitch that is of interest to them and establishing relationships. It is not difficult but it does take time and perserverance.

  3. ITempire
    April 16, 2014

    Yes to startup, sometimes it's important to have good PR. Once you are able to maintain strong relationship with reporters, it will require little skills to convince customers' to buy your product. For the long-term benefits, your technology should contain all the features in real which are mentioned in the advertisement.

  4. SRSTechPR
    April 16, 2014

    It is also important to use and leverage your PR successes as a way to motivate sales. Post a summary of press successes on your web site. Tweet them out. Brag about them in your newsletters. Make copies for your sales teams to use as marketing collateral. It may sound obvious but make sure everyone in your company knows about the PR successes – especially everyone in Marcom and Sales as well as upper level management.

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 16, 2014

    To underline what mark says, the PR release services are useful up to a point–when an editor or journalist is actively searching for a topic. I'd also say that most journalists are more intrigued by a story that hasn't been sent out to the whole world–and has graphics to go with it and a spokesperson who is actually available to speak in a timely manner.

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 16, 2014

    @Mark, i'll bet its challenging for smaller and newer companies to create such a well oiled machine that includes PR, marketing, sales, social media and the rest.

  7. t.alex
    April 17, 2014

    I guess the trick is whenever we make announcement or press release, we have to avoid looking like spamming.

  8. SRSTechPR
    April 17, 2014

    Yes. It is important to send your press releases to the right editor and reporter. You need to make sure you are sending them important informaiton – news that they can use. They get deluged by hundreds if not thousands of stupid press releases that are not NEWS and also have nothing to do with their beats.

    That is one of the problems with the press release platrforms – they mass mail press releases to everyone – regardless of what their specific interests are. There is little or no quality control. They mass mail news that is not news – 

    Establishing a personal relationship with the editors that actually write about and care about your space – and then following up – is still the best way to get positive publicity for your company's products and/or services.

    Mark Shapiro – SRS Tech PR

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 18, 2014

    @Mark, targetting is really important. You need to be able to tell the editor why their readers care about that particular news. The reality is that with the deluge of email that most editors get, they don't have time to take several minutes to figure out if a release is relevent to them.

  10. t.alex
    April 19, 2014

    Mark, yours is definitely good advice. Building up and maintaining good relationship with PR firms is one of the important process companies have to take care of.

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