Public Relations 101 for Start-ups / Small Companies

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How important is PR for your small company? how can you do it it in a cost effective manner? when do you hire an agency? how do you write a press release that resonates? Patrick Mork, Google Play's former global marketing head and a serial start-up marketer shows you the tips and tricks to effective PR strategies in this short, easy to read document

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Public Relations 101 for Start-ups / Small Companies

  1. 1. Marketing-in-a-Box Introduction to Public Relations
  2. 2. Contents • PR – Definition & goals • Messaging – what it is how to use it • How to measure PR effectiveness • PR by stages – when to use what and when • Amplifying PR via social media • Agencies, dealing with press and releases • Appendix: – PR agencies – PR tools & sites – The Art of Newjacking – getting free PR
  3. 3. What is PR? “PR is the practice of managing the spread of information between an organization or person and the public. PR can include a person or company getting exposure to their target audience using topics of public interest and news that do not require direct payment.”
  4. 4. What are the goals of PR? Goals Communicate Company messaging Communicate Product messaging Crisis management Manage Press Relationships
  5. 5. What does PR communicate? The company’s main reason for being / it’s mission The 2-3 key points that differentiate the company Company positioning statement – typically one line Company’s short description – typically 2-3 lines Company’s full description – typically up to a paragraph What is needed Output
  6. 6. What is included in a communications framework? One line: Name of the company; how it’s positioned in the market and what industry it operates in. Multi-liner: Same as One Liner plus mention of the company’s key product / products and what are the 1-2 things that are unique about them in the market. Full paragraph: One liner + Multi liner. Also includes typically where the company is located, backgrounds of 1-2 key, high profile founders or employees as well as who is funding the company, number of worldwide offices and employees.
  7. 7. Practical example – Video Game Developer X One liner: Video Game Developer X is the world leader in hyper-realistic combat games for Tablets Multi-liner: Video Game Developer X is the world leader in hyper realistic combat games for Tablets. The company’s proprietary Sub-Zero platform allows for near photo realistic combat animation while compressing data to minimize gaming lag time Full paragraph: Video Game Developer X is the world leader in hyper realistic combat games for Tablets. The company’s proprietary Sub-Zero platform allows for near photo realistic combat animation while compressing data to minimize gaming lag time. Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, the company’s founders include top executives from EA, Activision, and Dreamworkz. The company was founded in 2006 and is funded by Signia Venture Partners and Crosscut Ventures.
  8. 8. When do you use each? One liner Multi-Liner Full Paragraph • Use when time short • First sentence of each press release • Mention in TV / Radio interview • Sales cold call • Intro at speaking event • Print / Online interviews • Introductory marketing materials (B2B) – website, one pagers, ppt decks, online videos • Self-introduction at speaking events or with TV, Radio journalists • When comparing self with competitors • As part of key executive bios • At the footer of each press release – the boilerplate • Investor / partner presentations / marketing materials • In-depth product or company videos
  9. 9. How do you measure PR effectiveness? 1 2 3 • Reach – number of impressions generated, number of unique views, number of readers, number of TV viewers • Tools – Meltwater.com • Quality– Quality of publications; top 5 pubs in your particular industry / vertical; quality of content. How accurately do the major articles reflect the message being conveyed • Value ($) – What is the equivalent value of the reach achieved? • Tools – Agree with your agency ahead of time a measurement for value. An example could be Reach x % of target audience reached x $ value per person hit. The % audience can be a bit subjective as is the dollar value per impression but when used consistently month on month it can provide a benchmark for future performance
  10. 10. What to communicate / how it can help • Company formation / key founders • Funding announcements • Product launches • Key hires • Strategic partnerships • Knowledge, industry news, opinion papers • M&A activity • Awards / Industry recognition • Makes attracting top talent easier • Awareness makes funding easier / faster • Builds awareness with prospective clients / strategic partners • Makes invitations to key events more likely • Increases chance for nomination to awards / industry recognition • Positively impacts M&A prospects What to communicate Benefits of PR
  11. 11. What types of PR to do and when? Seed / Early stage Series A-B Post Series B • Build direct ties with key editors / reporters in your industry • Use Prwire.com to syndicate your news broadly • Hire PR consultants using The PR Network or other freelance PR services on project basis • Set up a blog and write about your industry to begin positioning yourself as a thought leader • Develop an events strategy and sponsor events related to your industry – always negotiate a speaking / panel opportunity • Hire a small / mid-size agency specialized in your industry for 5-10k / month max • Develop a press release strategy and aim for 1-2 releases per month if possible to build frequency • Leverage and share industry data freely when you have it to build thought leadership • Hire an upscale agency that can also target mass market media 15-20k / month • Hire an in-house PR person full time to manage agencies and key press outreach • Consider a broadcast media agency specialist • Add small / mid size agencies to other key non-US markets • Consider developing your own industry specific event
  12. 12. Amplifying PR via social media • Twitter – Type: Broadcast, 1:many medium – Tools: Hashtag for company, product and/or partner, pre-generated max 150 characters for your news (including link), Twitter page – *Can use Bt.ly to shorten link to news to save characters – Created Twitter ad with download URL for app if appropriate – Email tweets to Signia to amplify via @Signiavc, @Zawthet • Facebook – Type: Broadcast and Engagement; 1: many – Tools: Facebook page, imagery where possible, video when possible, promote page via ads with download links (if appropriate), Mention SigniaVC, Zaw Thet and other investors in posts where possible to share
  13. 13. Other ways to amplify PR • Create a blog – all PR releases, news, knowledge and research should also be sourced from your blog – Type: 1: Many good for targeted broadcast and for user feedback – Tools: Varies from blog to blog. Services available include – Blogger, WordPress, Wix, Weebly among others, Always add links to blog posts; mention key persons, funds, partners using links in any articles to provide ease of sharing / syndication, add graphics / video where appropriate, create compelling / short headers with key search terms in title (Google, Android, iOS, Apple, etc.) • Other tools – Alternative / less noisy social platforms: Quibb, Hacker News (for YC), Product Hung – Email / CRM: create a distribution list (with clear opt out) and regularly share your press releases and posts with press, partners, users) – Clear company / team sections in company website together with team bios, linkedin page links and blog section. More best practices check here – Mobile re-targeting
  14. 14. How to source the right PR agency 1. Create a clear brief (1-2 pages) that details – who you are, your key challenges, your product(s), your goals and what your measurable metrics are. Ask the agency for a plan on how to meet these goals within a specified time and budget X 2. Create a short list of at least 5-10 agencies that have demonstrated track record in your industry and send them the brief asking them to pitch 3. Get references from existing and past clients. Clearly ask which clients are current. Ask who specifically will be on your account team, their bios and how many other clients they will manage (the fewer the better) 4. Use whatever agency you select on a project / trial basis first (a single project or 1-3 month trial). Agree on key performance metrics before starting any project (views, impressions, number of unique users, value of PR) 5. Jointly establish a weekly PR meeting and monthly performance report to track progress. Any good agency will agree to measurable metrics as well as on a frequency to review these 6. Ask the agency what feedback they would like from you and agree to a half yearly or at least yearly client feedback where you score them on a pre-agreed list of criteria (responsiveness, number of interviews, number of speaking agreements negotiated for free, value of PR generated, quality of publications reached and number of times hit). Allow the agency a 360 feedback where they provide feedback on you as a client
  15. 15. Tips on managing the press / journalists • Don’t sell your product / company; sell yourself as an expert / thought leader • Press is always on a deadline. Be available or have someone who is • Provide data even if not directly relevant to your product / company • Build relationships; don’t always have an angle; give freebies (swag, lunch, product peeks) • Give occasional “exclusives” but not on critical product / news • Write the headline for them; give them soundbites that will drive traffic interest in their news • Never harass or antagonize them if they don’t print what you like. Clarify; ask why?
  16. 16. Interviews - crash course in media training • You’re always “on the record” unless you say otherwise – Off-the-record: nothing you say can be printed – On background: what you say can be printed but not attributed to you • Avoid saying “no comment” - re-direct thorny questions to someone who has expertise or explain why you might not be able to provide a response • Avoid questions outside your area of expertise – re-direct to what you can discuss and are comfortable with or feel free to say “I’m not sure but let me check and get back to you”. • Stick to facts / data that you can support with numbers • Stay positive / avoid bad-mouthing competition • Always re-direct to the main point of what you’re trying to communicate • If caught off guard / surprised, re-phrase the question for clarity and to buy time • Never mention a particular journalists’ competition • Smile, have fun and create discussion and conversation – remember you’re building a relationship
  17. 17. Tips on writing great press releases • Keep it short! 1-1.5 pages • Keep it simple; avoid technical jargon • Add images, video or stats when possible • Write the release with the reader in mind first! • Deliver the key Soundbite. What makes this story sexy? • Always add key partner quotes if possible (and approved by the partner). Prestigious partners enhance the story • Proofread! They might print the story exactly as your write it (also they might not) • Be available for questions – provide time / days when you or a member of your time can answer questions
  18. 18. APPENDIX Introduction to Public Relations
  19. 19. Start-up friendly PR agencies & useful links • SparkPR • Mighty PR • Atomico • Outcast • Brew • Komodo (UK only) • Tips for Finding the Perfect agency • How to use PR in a startup • Why most startups don’t get PR • Top ranked SF agencies (by USD$) • Top ranked Tech PR agencies -2013
  20. 20. Tools & Sites • The PR Network – Site for freelance PR professionals that can be hired on full-time or half time basis. Mostly UK based but also have US freelancers. Broader sites for freelancers include Odesk and Guru.com • Meltwater – PR service that helps capture online news coverage globally. Provides link source, number of views, audience size as well as translation of articles in foreign languages into English • PR Wire – News distribution & syndication service. Allows companies to upload and distribute their news for a fee. Includes reporting by day of where news was featured including news source, links and audience size. Alternatives include Brand.com and Prweb
  21. 21. The Art of Newsjacking • What is Newsjacking? – The art of commenting or creating news around someone else’s story • When is the best time to do this? – Following a company’s earnings release (if public) – Following a major product launch / strategic announcement – Following any major regulatory changes or M&A activity in the industry – Immediately after the news breaks but before all the facts are out • What’s the best way to do this? – Take a position on an issue based on fact and data – Have a strong point of view that is defendable and appears impartial – Put forward new reliable data points to support your point of view – Act fast! • Reach out to the article’s author directly to provide the information and offer an interview to explain your position (if you’re a small company consider offering an exclusive to the journalist)

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