I get quite a bit of deal flow from startups that are struggling to get press for their amazing world changing products and services.
You had the bold courage to venture out into the tough journey of entrepreneurship. You developed a team, set up the company, and you’ve spent the last couple of months grinding day and night in developing your products and servicing your first customers. You are finally at this point when you started to get your first sales, yet it’s not what you expected. You were hoping to receive a huge buzz for your startup, gain a mass following and generate that into sales, but that didn’t happen. This is a common problem for many startups. However, I’m here to show you the steps to take so that you inevitably achieve your goals.
One of the most cost efficient ways to build buzz around your startup is to get it placed in various forms of media that makes sense for your target market. But how do you really do that?
Most people think that it’s enough to merely post every once in a while on their company’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. Wrong.
There are many avenues to help grow your influence, many of which should begin long before you actually launch your startup or product.
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1) Pick up the Phone
Yes, you should be utilizing the online tools at your disposal like social media, blogs, and promotion tools. But never underestimate the value of the old-fashioned phone call.
Pick up the phone, call journalists or bloggers and form a true relationship. Get to know them, find out what they are looking for and what their goals are. Once you know that, you know better on how to approach them and pitch them if they are a publicist or curator of content. Phone calls establish trust and allows for a more solid relationship for future media outreach.
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2) Get Personal
Take the time to attend networking events, trade shows, and/or industry events especially if you know journalists will be there.
From there, introduce yourself and chat about anything ranging from sports, to ongoing news in the industry, to what you’re currently working on that is relevant to potential stories they have in the pipeline. The beauty is that most of these events are usually just a few hours long and are often times free.
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3) Leverage Other Low-Cost Social Media Tools
While getting actively involved in your company’s Facebook page and Twitter feed is essential these days, and using those same tools to follow the media outlets that cover your industry, it might be enough to attract the attention you want. What follows, then, are additional tips from fellow business owners about how to get press for your new business using both tried-and-true methods as well as the benefits you can reap from tapping the latest in social media technology to get your business some media attention.
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4) Capitalize on Other Low-Cost Social Media Tools
While many of you may associate press with Facebook and Twitter, there are a plethora of other options to attract media spotlight. Some examples include PRWeb.com, Free Press Release, and PRLog.com. These are all places where you can upload and distribute content and/or press releases to a variety of news and press sources at one time. Furthermore, be actively searching to become a contributing writer on influential content platforms. It’s free to write, and as long as you gain one feature or contribution to the platform, it only adds to your credibility and in turn helps boosts your sphere of influence.
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5) Form Strategic Partnerships
This is a great strategy, especially when you’re just starting out. For startups there are obvious advantages to partnering with more established companies. By leveraging the media relationships of seasoned companies, startups can also spare themselves some time on the bench while trying to get in the game. Forming these relationships, gives you automatic credibility, social clout and the ability to position you and your startup better in your industry.
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6) Be Charitable
“Attaching yourself to a benefit or charity is one of the easiest and most beneficial practices in PR… Consumers love hearing about charitable organizations and their events, and journalists know this.”
— Ryan Carlin, Roaming Hunger
Strategically align yourself with charities and non-profits that associate well with your brand and company.
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7) Tap Influential Bloggers
Almost all products are created for a distinct population of users. And whatever your product or service may be, there are numerous bloggers who continually write about it or about the industry. These bloggers are the people that keep a beating pulse of information to provide for all industry participants. They are almost always interested in new products and services, so prior to launching your product or service, develop a list of these people with their e-mail and contact info and reach out to them to try out your product or service before it is released to the public.
Additionally, journalists and bloggers are constantly looking out for the newest trends and statistics that can have an impact on the various industries they cover. These new trends and statistics are information you can actually provide for them. As I neared the launch of Zafaré, the social media and commerce platform for fashion, I made it a point to reach out and establish relationships with the most influential fashion bloggers. I followed them, learned what they like, what they follow, and gauge what they care about. I found ways I could help them, and ultimately got to a point where emails are exchanged a few times a week. Having these relationships was extremely key for us as it allowed us to pull potential users from their enormous social following.
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8) Make Yourself an Expert
I can’t stress this enough. The best way to gain a following is to establish and promote yourself as an expert in your field. If you guys recall we spoke about this before in “How to become an Authority and Influencer.”
So take the time to promote yourself as an expert in your field and create content designed to position yourself as an influential authority in your industry, city, profession, firm, etc.
The best way to do this is to write. Whether it be your own blog, case studies, and research papers that you can disseminate to the media, your customers, and other professionals in your industry. If you have developed some great experiences in something, write about it and redeliver it to a target audience.
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9) Take on Speaking Engagements
From writing and distributing content to target audiences, you can set yourself up for speaking engagements. Here’s a quick snippet about my good friend, who I just spoke to just a few weeks ago: Nikhil Goyal.
Lauded by the Washington Post as a future U.S. Secretary of Education, Nikhil Goyal is an activist and author of One Size Does Not Fit All of the forthcoming book Reclaiming Our Freedom to Learn. He is currently working on the City as the School experiment and a Student Bill of Rights. He has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC and FOX and has written for the New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, and Forbes. An international speaker, Goyal has spoken at Google, The Atlantic, Fast Company, NBC, MIT, Stanford University, Barnard College, SXSW,TEDxYouth and others. He lives in New York.
And guess what guys. He’s only 18 years old. That’s right, he just graduated from high school and skipping out on college altogether. For all of you out there, who think it’s too hard, or you can’t do it, or you can’t find the time. Goyal is a shining example that it is truly possible. Fed up with the education system, Goyal went off to begin his career in journalism, writing posts and articles about fellow students’ opinions on the draining environment that we call school. His posts continued to gain following, and as such he carved his words into a book – confirming his sphere of influence. Now he travels across the nation leading rallies with audiences of over 5,000 to 10,000 joining him to help spark change in the education sector.
His example can be learning lesson for many of us. If you’re working on a new technology, start writing posts or creating content that questions whether or not the status quo can support the needs of users. If you’re working on a green energy startup that utilizes new technologies, spark a discussion through content on whether or not it is viable.
If you are a thought leader, this is your opportunity and outlet to spark thought and gauge what the public thinks.
And through this, you can develop a platform for speaking engagements, which only help you improve your presentation skills.
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10) Apply to Awards Programs
I know this sounds like the weird one on the list. But bear with me. Yes, applying to industry awards or broad-based ones like the Inc. 5000 or Forbes lists can be time consuming, they can also attract the attention of media and new customer. Being recognized in the eyes of masses and media for your innovating ideas or business practices generates an overwhelming following – not to mention it’s an easy way to publicize your company. And by merely winning one award, you just gave yourself leverage to win another.
This concludes the segment. I hope all of you were able to pick up on some things that can help you gain press as you seek to launch your next product or even your startup, for that matter.
As always, don’t ever hesitate to reach out.
Keep hustling, my friends.
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