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Top PR Tips for Startups - as featured in TechRound


As a startup founder, the list of tasks and tools to optimise business growth and visibility can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? How to know what works? And importantly, how much should you spend?

I specialise in helping tech startups scale through PR and marketing and for me, there are two main principles that count. Impact and cost. This is where I see PR working hard for businesses rooted in technology.

From helping to articulate and spotlight founder-led stories to driving the launch of new products and services. In simple terms, PR can be a cost effective and impactful tool. 

And for tech businesses focused on sharing their story as widely as possible, well structured press releases can help explain a new innovation or complex SaaS service in a succinct and relevant way.

But before I share my PR tips, you might be asking, what’s PR anyway and why do I need it? So here’s a rapid rundown.

PR is the business of curating, managing and sharing information from an individual or an organisation to a specified target audience. 

Unlike advertising, PR coverage is generally not paid for (unless you pay a PR consultant that is!). If  the story is appealing or interesting enough, it will be published as editorial – via a third party such as an online news platform, broadcaster or an influencer’s social channel. 

Also unlike advertising, PR led activity is never guaranteed and so it’s categorised as ‘earned’. In effect your PR story has earned the right to be reviewed and published by an independent third party. 

As a result, PR content is overwhelmingly more ‘trusted’ than advertising. In fact, according to the Nielsen Global Trust Report, 92% of customers view editorial as more trustworthy than advertising.

PR led content can be a brilliant tool for all types of businesses. Here are 3 benefits:




 

1. Driving Awareness

 

Whether you’re targeting investors, retailers or B2B partners, you are in a competitive marketplace. Securing coverage in magazines or online media platforms will enhance positive perceptions for your business – and elevate your profile above competitors.

PR can also play a crucial role in launching new tech products or features. By crafting compelling press releases, organising media events, coordinating product reviews, the machinery of PR can generate buzz and excitement around your latest innovations.

2. Authority and Trust

 

PR can help position your technology business as a leader or at least an emerging challenger in its field. By securing interviews, thought leadership articles, or speaking opportunities for experts within your company, you can amplify your story and create trust built through credibility and visibility. 

What’s more, tech startups launching new products or services are often challenged at the outset by a lack of trust due to low awareness. PR led editorial will help underpin assurance through building third party endorsement.

3. Reputation and Credibility

 
For startups on a journey to secure investment, PR can help shape opinion. If no-one has seen or heard of your tech business, it can be hard to harness the funding you need. But through sharing positive media reviews on your website or investor deck, your story becomes de-risked.

If PR feels right for your tech startup, then here’s some essential steps to deliver successful PR activity. 







Customer Profile and Influences

 

As with any good marketing or communications strategy, knowing your customers inside out is a fundamental starting point. Identifying who you are targeting and their influences will prevent wasted money and hours.

To build an effective PR campaign, you need to profile your target audiences from the outset and identify which media (as well as other factors) might influence them. 
Whether you’re a tech startup in B2B or B2C, get to know your vertical media. Those are the media most closely aligned with the sector your business is in. Depending on the size of your sector, there is always a collection of trade media titles that cover your specific industry. Understanding the type of stories these media cover and who writes what on the editorial team is a great starting point. 

For tech startups, there is a wide range of widely read UK and global technology media titles that cover startup stories, particularly stories where startups have secured funding and investment.

Knowing how to optimise your story, making it interesting enough for publication is a key next step.

 

Prepare Your PR Toolbox

 

Your PR toolbox will become your most useful weapon in delivering effective PR. It means you have all of your PR tools ready to deploy in advance of storytelling opportunities. And this means you can respond to and activate PR activity with speed and agility. With reactive PR,  you will be working to a tight deadline!


Ideally a PR Toolbox should contain the following:

Press releases – At different stages of your business growth – you will have new stories to share. At the early stage of your business, you may want to craft a launch press release.  This will cover details such as a summary of the innovation, what inspired the business, what problem it’s solving and who’s it for. Subsequently, significant investment or funding news does well as content for PR stories.
Make sure you include as much evidential data as possible including business growth statistics for example.

  • Fact Sheet – Your fact sheet operates as a tool to provide easy to digest and accessible information about the business.  Best presented in bullet points, include information about when the business was launched, who the Founders are, unique and key features as well as growth or funding rounds. This will help make a journalist’s life easier and hopefully, more inclined to write about your startup

  • Founder biographies  Focus on interesting points including educational and career backgrounds – particularly in relevance to the new startup. But also ensure the ‘human’ is visible in the story. Some of the most interesting Founder stories are nothing to do with education and everything to do with life experiences

  • Strong visuals.  These include high quality portrait images of the Founders, product images and where possible, short films or infographics that help illustrate complex technology or innovation stories


What’s Your Story?
Editorial opportunities for all startups tend to fit within one of these areas: 

Founder Profiles
 As an early stage business, your founder story is front and centre. Craft a clear narrative to show how you or your Founder’s unique skills and experiences contributed to the creation of the business or innovation.
Whilst not all Founder stories will get published, unique views or insights can fuel thought leadership articles related to newsworthy topics. And you may want to start sharing your Founder insights on your own social media. In effect – being seen as a ‘trusted source’.
To plan for this PR opportunity, make sure your business Founder biographies are available and up to date. And ensure you have a package of visual assets including simple high quality portrait images.  




Admittedly, not all founders have the time or skills to create well written articles so this may be where you invest in a specialist copywriter. 

Research and Education
 Whether you are launching a new product or the Founder is writing around a topical issue, including evidential data is key. 

Much of this research could already be available as part of your tech innovation. But including wider evidence that gives context to your story can help. 
For example, some of my PR work supporting clean air startups on the Breathable Cities accelerator programme meant I was sharing the startup’s own specific insights as well as general data about air pollution worldwide for a wider perspective.
Conducting additional research through surveys is a good tactic but there are guidelines about how to make this research newsworthy and ripe for PR. For example, make sure the survey respondents cover at least 2,000 people and ideally your research has been undertaken with a reputable firm such as YouGov.
Providing educational content is also useful for journalists as it can save them time in their own research.  But also a Founder willing to share key business tips such as ‘how to fundraise’ or ‘tips for successful scaling’ works well for media titles seeking  informative content that can increase reader engagement.

News and Topicality
 Recognising where your startup business might fit in a current, developing or upcoming news story is where PR can work really well.  
Develop a 6 month calendar of theme dates or opportunities that tie in with your business innovation. For example there are significant events in 2024 that I am bookmarking for my own clients including International Women’s Day, London Tech Week and London Climate Week.
Equally, keeping on top of developing news stories may well offer opportunities for your expert comment – particularly with broadcast media such as local radio or TV. Often journalists and research teams are actively seeking commentary – and will share requests on social media channels such as X.
Great PR is also about creating story opportunities too. For example, I have recently secured TV coverage for tech startups by bringing their innovation into school assemblies and inviting special VIP guests to attend. Adding these creative angles can help secure wider PR coverage that otherwise couldn’t be achieved with straight product or service PR.
 
Don’t Give Up!
And finally. Don’t be disheartened if your first press release or emailed launch story doesn’t land as widely as you would like.  Tech journalists receive over 150 press releases per day so competition for space is intense. 

Do make sure you have researched and read the type of stories your target writer covers, reference previous editorial relevance to your own business innovation and keep your emails succinct. Whilst it might be worth following up with the journalist if you don’t hear back the first time, recognise too that writers can’t respond to all emails. 
A way to optimise story publication is to ensure you have a PR plan that offers more than one ‘moment’  – over the course of 6 months or a year – for your story to be told. 
Ideally focus on different aspects of the business story or identify timely moments when your business solution has more topical relevance.

Gaby Jesson is Founder of The Prospect Society that exclusively supports startups and lean scaleups. She is Fractional PR Director for Growth Studio who run accelerator programmes for tech startups and Board Advisor for Impact Hub, global innovation hubs for startups.

 


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