Crash Course: PR for Startups

August 12, 2017

Don't miss my detailed "Guide to Startup PR" presentation here!


I've often been amazed by how under-utilized PR is by companies in Tech. The vast majority of press you read is limited to simply funding announcements, product launches and M&A. Since most companies can go quite some time without either of the above happening, many companies pop up onto our radar only to disappear just as quickly as they appeared. 

In addition, the few times that companies have the opportunity to get on Techcrunch, Venturebeat or the Wall Street Journal, they don't fully take advantage of the opportunity and have unclear messaging, rambling product descriptions or miss the opportunity to tell us what their story is and why we should care. 

Sadly, when startup entrepreneurs do get it right they get a brief 24 hour spot in the sunlight which is basically the only public presence they have until their next press release 6-12 months later.  What kind of brand presence can you build and sustain over 6 months with two press releases?  Not much.

The reality is that if you're going to do PR seriously you need to need to be consistent about it.   Like sales, customer retention, 30 DAU's etc you need to set yourself some goals, measure performance, iterate and work on it month after month.  Most importantly, you need resources to it both in terms of time, people and a little bit of money.   

When I ran marketing at GetJar years ago we put out 2-3 press releases every month. We then measured and tracked this PR using tools like Meltwater or Cision which helped us share the results with our board at the end of the month and tell them the exact number of eyeballs each piece of news generated, the estimated dollar value of this PR, where we achieved coverage, how much share of voice (ie the number of mentions in our sector vs. competitors) we had vs. our competition and how much it cost us to get there.  Not only did we release the obvious like funding announcements, key hires and awards but we also heavily promoted our strategic partnerships with the likes of AT%T, Yahoo!, Rovio, The Salvation Army and others and put out tons of data related pieces.  


We started small with a boutique agency based out of SF but eventually scaled as we grew and received funding.  By the time we were series C, we had a full time in house team of 2.5 people and three agencies (1 in SF covering tech & business, 1 in NYC covering broadcast media and consumer and 1 in London covering the UK and Western Europe doing tech, business and consumer press).   


Most importantly, we leveraged our data to create blog posts and e-books which gave people an idea of where the app industry was going (like the App Sizing report which was the first report of its kind to estimate the value of the apps market), which platforms were relevant, which apps most popular and what this meant for the industry as a whole.  We released data in some form on a weekly basis and released it so often that eventually reporters came to us for any news related to the Apps ecosystem (this was made easier by the fact that neither Google nor Apple shared any useful apps data - they still don't!).  With all this effort and focus on average we were able to generate of $2 million in monthly PR hits which only cost us time, effort and the retainer of our PR agencies (about $50k a month once we were series C).  

So how do you get started?  Well the good news for you is that I've created a deck which you can find here.  It's about 20 slides and is a quick and easy intro to PR.  In it you'll find:


1.  An intro to PR; goals and how to measure its effectiveness

2. Brief explanation of what you'll need and how to use it

3. An overview of what types of PR you should be doing at each stage growth

4. A short overview on how to hire your first PR agency

5. A quick recap of how to deal with interviews and things to be aware of 

6. Short tips on how you can amplify the PR that you do

7. A reference list and links to the best PR agencies in SF and the US

I hope this helps.  If this article and the deck are useful to you I'd appreciate a like, share and any comments you might have.  Likewise, if you have any questions feel free to post comments or just tweet me @madmork.  Make sure to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter and YouTube.  





Chief Storyteller

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