How To Get Press For Your Startup
You've done the hard work, but how do you spread the word?
Launching a business is challenging. True success requires endurance and ingenuity, especially if the goal is to build a lasting or even iconic brand.
Getting press for your startup can feel overwhelming, even discouraging at times, especially when entrepreneurs are typically already wearing many hats.
It’s important to remember that creating a great product or service is only half of the equation. Once you have that, you need to focus on building brand awareness, a key element for standing out in a crowded marketplace. In 2023, there is no magic bullet methodology for driving brand recognition. It requires a mix that includes everything from social media, public relations, performance marketing and more.
Luckily, there is overlap between all of these mediums and focusing on one will often help create overarching brand momentum. Conquering the multi-faceted, multi-platform, digital media landscape can feel daunting, but LaRue’s team of 20 plus seasoned publicists, affiliate marketers, account executives and social media experts can offer insights on how to get started.
Research, research, research. The media landscape is vast with more outlets than there have ever been and one common denominator, a need for new content. Spend some time reading and following the platforms where you would like to see or hear about your brand. Go down the rabbit hole and work backwards, starting with the bigger and more obvious publishers to those that might be a little lesser known. Stay current on the content and stories they are creating, promoting, and publishing to see how your brand fits within their work. Of course, if you have an in-house PR person or an agency, it’s their job to do this work, but having awareness of the space will help you understand how to craft the best possible strategy.
Know Your Targets
From doing the research, you should learn about the power players in your specific media landscape. In our current, very digital age, this list will include creators and influencers, editors, writers, producers, podcasters and more. Look at your wish list of targets and make sure you learn everything you can about their beat, their content, what they cover, their interests, personally and professionally, if that’s an option. The key is to become an expert in who they are and what piques their interests, so you can craft the absolute best pitch and standout from your competitive set.
Writing is Key
A well written email is a thing of beauty. Editors, creators, producers, and writers’ inboxes are inundated with pitches and press releases. That means, for your email to get opened it must stand out. A smart subject line, a punchy introduction or thoughtful and well researched opener can make all the difference. Show that you have done your research by referencing by explaining why you chose them to reach out to. BUT the key is to do all of this in three sentences or less. Nobody has time to read through a long email, get to the point. No spelling mistakes.
Gift and Invite
Another great way to get on the radar of key contacts is through experiential marketing. Product sampling and events should be curated and thoughtful. Keep in mind, the ideal is to have the product requested, versus sending it out unsolicited and into the void. It’s also important to note that media are invited to a lot of events; both virtual and IRL. For a brand to garner interest it’s important to create something truly innovative. But its worth the sweat equity. Most creators will only sing a brand's praise if they have had a good experience with the product/service. Sending a standout package or hosting a memorable event or activation will help create brand advocates.
You might think you’re ready, but are you really ready? Is your packaging where it needs to be? Are you entirely happy with the product? How’s the website? Do you have inventory? These are the questions you should be asking before you attempt to place your brand in the hands of the media. You often only get one shot to impress and if you aren’t entirely ready to be seen and shared, it can work against you. There is also nothing worse than getting coverage and not having stock on hand to fulfill initial demand.
Like they always say, timing is everything and the press cycle is a specific one. Editors and creators are planning months and seasons ahead. If you’d like to be considered for a seasonal gift guide, make sure you expose your target to your brand with plenty of time.
This may sound way less appealing than ordering takeout and binge watching shows, but attending industry events and meeting people is a huge part of making inroads. The people you meet at conferences, happy hours and other gatherings often turn out to be allies or friends of allies. If they happen to also be founders, CEOs or creators in the media landscape, they can share insight into what has worked for them and their brand.
Pay attention to what other brands you admire are doing and look to for inspiration. Watch how they evolve, where they are getting coverage and what they are doing to standout. You need to be original, but a little friendly competition is a great motivator.
Set attainable goals. Target five media outlets or creators a month/week/day depending on your bandwidth. Set a goal you know you can stick to and chip away at it. Overnight successes are often years in the making. You might not land your dream outlet or placement right away and that’s okay. It’s far from a failure. Just getting on a writer’s or editor’s radar might lead to coverage down the line when the time is right. The key is patience and perseverance.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take chances and make bold moves. Set your sights high. Without doing that you won’t be able to achieve it. Whether that’s in your outreach by targeting a major outlet or reaching out to a fellow aspirational CEO. Put your brand out there at every chance you get. Name recognition is important.
Hire the Right Team
If you are building a DTC wellness brand, hire a PR firm that has experience in the space. Depending on the industry, you may want a generalist agency that has worked in your category or you may prefer an agency that has expertise in a specific niche. Either option will have the contacts and relationships needed to expedite your trajectory.