How to Rock at Startup PR


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Learn how to pitch your little startup heart out and actually get somewhere with the media peeps!

Join tech journalist Erica Swallow for an overview of how to interact with tech media as a startup. You'll learn the basics of PR for startups, including how to engage and build relationships with the media, how to craft a press release, top tips for writing an awesome email pitch, what "exclusive" and "embargo" mean, which assets are useful for journalists and what not to do. This class will also include a number of case studies from recent pitches that Erica has received. She will show you a behind-the-scenes look at how she was pitched and where each pitch led. Of course, questions are welcome, so bring your queries and a notebook for taking down your top learnings!

Learn more about Erica's class on Skillshare:

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  • Response from me: “I actually heard about the app because you had sent that. :-) My colleague, Matt Silverman, forwarded it along, knowing that I'm flying to Napa/Sonoma today and that I'm a wine enthusiast. ”
  • More details: “Over a ten year period, I've experienced market hardships (Richard Reid shoe bomb), had to sue a major corporation to stop them from making my patent, and struggled as a product entrepreneur trying to compete with footwear leaders. I am offering the most innovative footwear product on the market, and one of the only footwear products in the history to reach  the market with a utility patent (versus a design patent). It is truly novel!”
  • HARO: startups respond to requestsNewsBasis: Follow topics and get suggested pitches / startups can respond to requests
  • HARO: startups respond to requestsNewsBasis: Follow topics and get suggested pitches / startups can respond to requests
  • HARO: startups respond to requestsNewsBasis: Follow topics and get suggested pitches / startups can respond to requests
  • How to Rock at Startup PR

    1. 1. How To Rockat #StartupPR
    2. 2. Preliminary Reading #StartupPR
    3. 3. What Defines Startup PR?• No reputation• No budget• No time• Newness• Passion• No PR experience #StartupPR
    4. 4. 1. Know What’s Newsworthy• Startup’s launch• New product• Study or data• Current event• Partnership #StartupPR
    5. 5. 1. Know What’s Newsworthy Startup’s Launch / Relaunch “Bizzy is going to change local search by launching a Bizzy Recommendation Engine and Local Business Census at the end of the month and the Founder and President of Bizzy, Gadi Shamia, would like to sit down with you prior to the announcement to show you how the engine will work. The Local Business Census will ask users 20 questions about the local businesses in their area in order to gage their preferences. Once complete, Bizzy will have what it needs to provide you with a recommendation the way a friend would in a fun and interactive way. So far there have really been two tiers of online local search: 1) Yellow Pages and 2) Yelp and Zagats reviews. We are moving into the third tier of predictive technology, creating the ability to provide users and consumers with recommendations based on their preferences. Bizzys recommendations wont just be based on what your friends like or recommend - because we dont necessarily always agree with what our friends and family like - but Bizzys unique and proprietary algorithm will match your data with the best fit for you anywhere you go.” #StartupPR
    6. 6. 1. Know What’s Newsworthy New Product “Saw on Twitter that you had downloaded our new app Snooth Wine Pro. Hope youre enjoying it or will enjoy it on your trip to Napa/Sonoma. Ive sent some information to your counterparts at Mashable in hopes of receiving some Mashable love in the form of coverage and havent heard anything just yet. I had luck pitching back in 2008 when I was still in college and had my own streaming music search engine, Streamzy - but this time seems a bit more challenging. This is my first big project since Ive arrived at Snooth and Id be forever grateful if you could consider covering the new app - its the first of its kind and were extremely proud of it. Ive included our press release below and a link to find screenshots and contest info. Let me know if youd like some promo codes to gift to your readers. Again, I appreciate your consideration.” #StartupPR
    7. 7. 1. Know What’s Newsworthy Study or Data “My client, QuBit, has done some research into retail websites and has come up with a list of top reasons that people dont convert into paying customers - wed be more than happy to do a Top ways to improve website conversions style piece off the back of this if youd be interested.” #StartupPR
    8. 8. 2. Have a Concise, Value-Driven Message• YES – “Skillshare is a community marketplace to learn anything from anyone.” – “Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world online or from an iPhone.” – “Lot18 is a membership by invitation website for wine and epicurean products from coveted producers at attractive discounts.”• NO – Companies are now adopting the same level of attention to data–driven design, optimization, engagement and monetization that their social game counterparts are. And, many of them are winning big. Company X, a user analytics firm based in SF, helps them to do so – would you be interested in learning more? – Company Y offers consumers and businesses an innovative, easy way to cut the clutter, save some trees and even save money by storing and organizing all their purchase receipts in the cloud. #StartupPR
    9. 9. 2. Have a Concise, Value-Driven Message Creating a Message • Fill in the blank: “*My startup+ is a ____________.” • Cut down on industry jargon • Use it everywhere #StartupPR
    10. 10. 3. Understand Coverage Area & Audience • Try to avoid this sentence: – “I read your recent post called ‘XYZ,’ and I think you’d be interested in my startup.” • With that being said… – “Loved your piece a few days ago (I sent it around to all of [Company X] to read) - is this a preview of your class? I’ve been meaning to reach out to you because our CEO, *Person Y+ just published his first book, [Book Title], which addresses a lot of the points you made, as well as…” #StartupPR
    11. 11. 3. Understand Coverage Area & Audience Don’t Send Me This • “ArchPort Footwear began offering the first sandals with flashlights that fit inside the sole; there are 20 days remaining to take advantage of this offer. Each pair of ArchPort Sandals arrive with a flashlight that fits into a chamber located in the arch of the sole. The flashlight is ideal for night outings during the summer…” #StartupPR
    12. 12. 4. Customize Your Pitches• Journalist’s name• Mention of his or her publication• True interest in recent coverage / coverage area #StartupPR
    13. 13. 5. Avoid Press Releases• 95% of press releases are useless• If you use one… – Be informative, not sales-y – Omit quotes (good publications don’t use them) – Attach or copy-and-paste it below the email – Embed a link to the press release – Or offer to send the press release later• If you don’t use one… – 1 sentence defining your startup – 2-3 sentences explaining the occasion for your pitch• EMAIL SUBJECT LINES ARE VERY IMPORTANT! #StartupPR
    14. 14. 5. Avoid Press Releases Composing a Subject Line • YES – Story: Building Landing Pages That Convert – Snooth Launches "Shazam" for Wine – Top tips for e-commerce websites – Exclusive: Performance Reviews Go Social (infographic) • NO – Press Release for – PRESS RELEASE - ARCHPORT SANDALS WITH FLASHLIGHT IN THE SOLE – Plextor Debuts Superfast Limited Edition SSD – Telligent Announces Social Community Software at WPC • I forwarded to a coworker, saying, “For you if interested. These PR peeps have no idea what I do.” #StartupPR
    15. 15. 6. Have Useful Assets Available• Useful assets include: – A company or product description – Photos relevant to the story – Screenshots of the product – Company logos• Ideas for implementation: – Zipped file as an attachment – Link to “press” page #StartupPR
    16. 16. 7. Exclusives & Embargoes• Exclusive: when a publication is given the right to be the first publication to report on a given story• Embargo: a request by a source that the information or news provided by that source not be published until a certain date or certain conditions have been met #StartupPR
    17. 17. 8. Offer Up Unique Data #StartupPR
    18. 18. 9. Follow Reporters on Twitter• “It’s amazing to me that I get a MUCH higher response rate when pitching reporters via Twitter than email. I would actually go as far as to say that every time I’ve pitched a reporter via Twitter, I have gotten some sort of response (often resulting in a story for my client). Via email, I have maybe a 50% response rate. The phone call response rate would be my lowest.” - Nicole Denton, PR, Pyxl #StartupPR
    19. 19. 10. Reverse Pitch with HARO & NewsBasis #StartupPR
    20. 20. 10. Reverse Pitch with HARO & NewsBasis Stories I’ve Written with HARO • 13 Branded iPhone Apps That Enhance Their Company’s Products • 13 Ways to Improve Your International SEM Strategy • 7 Unique Eco-Friendly Company Transportation Alternatives • 6 New & Innovative Social Media Campaigns to Learn From • 7 Twitter Marketing Campaigns to Learn From • How The iPad Is Helping Businesses Go Green #StartupPR
    21. 21. Final Tips• Be concise.• Have a very clear message.• Think like the reader. #StartupPR
    22. 22. Questions?