Startup PR Dos and Don’ts: A Comprehensive Guide

By , in Tips for startups on . Tagged width: ,

Clara Armand-Delille, a seasoned French-American PR professional and the founder & MD of ThirdEyeMedia, shares do’s and don’ts of PR for startups.

Clara Armand-Delille has 15+ years of experience in communications strategy in the digital and tech space across multiple markets. She has lived and worked in 5 countries, including France, the UK, the US, Portugal and Italy and is fluent in 6 languages.

Clara Armand-Delille by Pedro Sadio
Clara Armand-Delille by Pedro Sadio

More than an expert professional in communications, Clara is also a devoted yoga practitioner and holds a 500-hour Vinyasa Yoga certification.

Public Relations (PR) longevity can be a double-edged sword for businesses.

PR fundamentally revolves around the establishment of brand identity, the cultivation of awareness, and the acquisition of credibility.

Here are the recommended actions to do

Only reach out to a reporter if you possess pertinent news.

If it’s your initial contact, ensure that you provide information that aligns with the reporter’s beat, is presented clearly and succinctly, and offers something of newsworthy value. By sharing valuable and timely communication with a journalist, you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression and initiate a positive professional relationship.

Allow the reporter sufficient time to review and report on the news you’ve shared

Journalists typically receive anywhere from 100 to 500 emails daily. Sending a press release doesn’t assure media coverage. However, providing news under embargo to selected reporters can increase the likelihood of obtaining coverage by allowing them to evaluate the news before its public release.

When presenting a particular story to a reporter, provide a broader perspective or overarching angle

This can be a substantial time-saving advantage for a reporter and might become your most compelling selling point. For instance, when announcing the launch of a freelance platform, include industry statistics regarding the current number of freelancers in your market and the projected growth in independent workers over the next five years. Strengthen your pitch by illustrating the bigger picture with concrete market data.

Prioritize quality over quantity

Establishing a “media footprint” is crucial during the initial phases to enhance your online visibility, supported by reputable sources. A single well-crafted article about your product or founders, effectively communicating your vision and mission, can have a lasting and positive impact on your clients, prospects, and more.

Present an exclusive opportunity to a journalist that holds significance for your business

Depending on the nature of your forthcoming announcement, offering exclusivity can be an effective strategy for securing your desired high-quality coverage. Select a reputable reporter and ensure their commitment to publishing the exclusive news you share with them. The exclusive approach empowers you to exercise better control over the messaging by briefing a single journalist with the news.

Clara Armand-Delille moderating a panel at Web Summit
Clara Armand-Delille moderating a panel at Web Summit

Now, here are some “don’ts” to keep in mind when it comes to PR:

Avoid reaching out to a reporter without specific news.

The era of mass media blasting, where you send a press release to a long list of reporters, is no longer effective. Instead, create a shorter, personalized press list with relevant contacts for each announcement. You’ll achieve better results with a targeted approach.

Refrain from bothering a reporter without a valid reason.

Reporters are typically occupied during business hours, and there isn’t necessarily a perfect time to contact them. Minimize phone calls unless necessary, and don’t propose face-to-face meetings unless there’s a compelling reason, such as embargoed information to share, a specific briefing, or an exclusive product demo.

Avoid using sensational email subject lines like “URGENT.”

It’s up to the reporter and their editor to determine the urgency of news. Instead, use clear, concise, and specific subject lines that convey the essence of your message. For example, a subject line like “Facebook acquires Company X” is more engaging than a generic “Press release.”

Timing matters.

Don’t contact a reporter too early or too late with your news. If your startup is in its infancy and lacks a proof of concept and users, it’s premature to approach reporters. Wait until you have a compelling founding story to pitch to the media. Conversely, avoid reaching out too late, such as two weeks after news has already been released.

Steer clear of sharing approximate or fabricated news with the media.

While it may be tempting to paint a rosy picture of your company’s future or pre-announce forthcoming features, sticking to facts is advisable. Avoid making hyperbolic statements or providing unrealistic estimates. Once information is in the public domain, it’s challenging to retract or correct it.

These guidelines will help you navigate the PR landscape effectively and establish a positive rapport with journalists.