Start-ups need PR
Current start-up dates
It is particularly important for founders to develop a wealth of ideas, perseverance and a neutral view of their own product in their press work. It is risky for journalists to report on products that have yet to prove themselves on the market. It is all the more important to think journalistically when developing press topics and contacting media representatives, to create topics with broad relevance and to communicate them transparently.
Before the actual operational PR work begins, founders should therefore first consider a communication strategy and prepare appropriate basic documents - a procedure that is not dissimilar to drawing up a business plan. Even in the base camp, i.e. in the run-up to the PR summit trip, the focus is on the issues of which key messages are going to the press, which target groups can be reached by the public and what they should learn about the product. It makes sense to formulate specific messages for each target group, because potential investors are interested in other aspects than a user, for example. So-called key media must continue to be identified so that the core messages reach the target group. This means finding out which media the actual target group uses, in which media the start-up has a good chance of being mentioned or with which topics and information the appropriate media sections can be used.
Press kit and founder profile
The press kit, consisting of a company portrait, founder profile and a short footer, is essential for a summit mission. The company portrait presents the start-up and the product in a nutshell and contains all the important information and facts about the company. The footer is usually an excerpt from the portrait. It summarizes all "W questions" (who, what, when, where, why?) In a maximum of 1000 characters and is used as a link for all press releases. Founder profiles are also recommended to give journalists a picture of who is actually behind the company, what their previous experience and motives were for founding the company and what vision the founder is pursuing with his idea. In contact with journalists, company and founder profiles are a welcome service, so that the editor does not have to search for the most important questions himself.
A further must in the standard equipment for start-up PR is meaningful visual material. Good visual content increases the chance of being picked up by the press. Therefore, start-ups should have professional pictures of the founders, products, maybe a look behind the scenes as well as the website or app created in printable quality right from the start. In addition to professionalism, authenticity also plays a major role in images, as does the aspect of being able to visually tell a story about the company, the product and the people behind it.
Online PR area
Another basic tool for professional press work is the online press area. In the best case scenario, journalists should be able to download all current information, the press kit and images themselves simply and easily. A personalized press contact is important so that the journalist can address his questions directly to the appropriate contact person. For the preparatory press work, a topic plan (as a roadmap for the next press releases) and wording (internal documentation with recurring or critical questions) are also relevant within the company.
The operational PR work
When the strategic basics are in place, the operational press work begins, the intermediate stage on the way to the PR mountain top. This includes the writing and sending of press releases, personal contact with the respective editors and bloggers, media research, competition monitoring and recurring topic finding - be it setting topics yourself (agenda setting) or referring to current topics (agenda surfing). Classic press topics are all important company events that are of interest to the target groups. It should be noted here that while a Google update can be interesting news for consumers, unfortunately no one is interested in the product update of an unknown start-up. But if a new CEO is hired who was previously with a very well-known company, it could be an exciting story for business media.
But even if nothing happens in the start-up that could be of interest to the press, topics can be found based on current events that can be linked to your own start-up or the product. As an online dealer for car tires, for example, you can evaluate the most popular winter tires when the season is approaching. Even without a current reason, topics can be found that could be of interest to the target group. In times when publishers are saving more and more, editors are often grateful when PR people support them with images and texts.
Another important component of press work is the journalist pitch, the preliminary approach to potential editors. It is important here to deal carefully with the target medium and its reporting beforehand. A journalist receives countless emails and calls a day. It should therefore be possible to formulate the request concisely in a few sentences by email or on the phone and in no way promotionally. Many journalists prefer to receive news and topic suggestions by email, and that should also be accepted. Annoying follow-up calls are only time-consuming and annoying for obviously disinterested editors and tend to lead to the company leaving a negative impression.
Important for every envisaged summit conquest: With every PR topic that you implement, a long-term storytelling strategy should be pursued that is in line with the goals and visions of the company - because a well-told story that evokes images in the head tends to stay with the company Memory as mere facts and arguments.
In-house or agency?
To get to the mountainous destination, entrepreneurial high-altitude hikers have two options to choose from: Should the start-up invest directly in its own team on the demanding route and hire an internal specialist? Or would you rather fall back on the longstanding expertise of an external agency? Both have advantages and disadvantages: whether in-house or agency, a prerequisite for successful and targeted PR is extensive industry-specific knowledge. In the case of in-house PR, it is "vital" for the company to have a well-trained and, above all, well-trained expert. Ultimately, success depends largely on his know-how and his ability to get used to it quickly.
But an expert who is qualitatively able to meet all technical requirements must first be found on the market and won over to the company.
Start-ups are not the first choice for all communication professionals. Especially when it comes to costs and time, young companies should ask themselves: "What can I do on my own and is it even worth it for me?" In addition, most start-ups cannot afford an experienced PR employee at the beginning. If the CEO, marketing manager or an intern takes on the tasks of press work in a start-up, in addition to a basic understanding of communication and PR, the knowledge to differentiate between marketing, a good writing, a portion of creativity and an overview of the current media landscape above all, there must be time. The time factor is one of the most common misjudgments in PR work. A sustainable and credible communication strategy cannot be implemented at the push of a button.
However, if you have the time and know-how, there is basically nothing against doing press work in-house. Some founders specify topics themselves, write the texts and ultimately leave the agency only with the distribution and addressing the journalists, the last few meters to the destination.
What PR agencies offer
When does it make sense to work with external PR professionals? If companies are only missing individual services, such as press kits, press releases or mailing lists, during the first stage of promotion, these can be purchased from agencies individually and on a project-by-project basis. If, however, there is generally a lack of time for PR, start-ups can concentrate better on their core business by outsourcing their PR work to an agency. But that doesn't mean that you don't have anything to do with PR anymore. Even with an agency, the founder must be present and available as the face of the company.
But regardless of time and PR knowledge, there are a few reasons that speak for an agency: Whether a simple high-altitude hike or a demanding high-tech mountain route - a PR agency brings up a whole bunch of experienced and tried summit storm experts with individual specialist knowledge and is thus armed for a wide range of topics. You can provide targeted advice to companies and achieve results right from the start. Current trends in the industry are also quickly picked up in everyday agency work. What also speaks for an agency is that it delivers an independent and professional view from the outside. From her neutral position she can express constructive criticism, make suggestions for improvement, give tips for the future and provide creative input without being internally burdened or influenced by subjective opinions.
When it comes to the journalist network, the agency is in the lead in most cases and makes use of professional media databases. In order for the agency to work effectively, it depends on a lively exchange. Start-ups must therefore be aware that they have to plan capacities to support the agency in order to always provide them with all relevant topics, coordinate documents and coordinate strategies. Since agencies are dependent on input from companies, cooperation works best when there is a permanent contact person on the company side who takes care of the coordination. Founders often try very hard here, but often simply do not have the time in their everyday life to manage the PR - an internal interface is the ideal complement here.
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