Using Public Relations to Market Your Business Startup

Marketing a startup is one of the biggest struggles for any entrepreneur. You need to increase sales and grow your customer base, but effective advertising is expensive. While the internet provides significant opportunities for low-cost and no-cost marketing, many business owners overlook the value in establishing an in-house public relations system.

What is Public Relations?

Public relations encompass the work that needs to be done to get your company in the news. The efforts should include building relationships with appropriate news editors, writing effective press releases, and planning how to best use press relations to enhance your marketing plan. Of course, it is possible to hire a PR firm to do this work for you, but they can be expensive and do not have the same stake in seeing your venture succeed as you do.

In addition, a PR firm will have to be taught about your company — what you do, how you do it, what will be newsworthy, and who should be targeted. You will be charged for the hours it takes to get them up to speed. A better entrepreneurial option is to teach yourself all you can about effective public relations, then assign the tasks to your key employees as you grow.

Planning PR

The primary objective of public relations is to expose more potential customers to your company and product(s). You may have a secondary objective of exposing potential investors to your company, as well. Thus, your first step is to define what is and will be newsworthy about your business. Sending out sporadic press releases is far less effective than developing a steady stream of publicity. The editors who review hundreds of press releases per day are more likely to notice yours and hopefully become interested in your progress if they see your company name on a regular basis.

News events are fairly easy to come by with a startup. Consider planning press releases for:

– What your business will do

– Who will benefit from your product or service (consider seeking “testers”)

– Securing investors or financing

– Business launch or grand opening

– New product releases

– New contracts awarded (with your client’s permission, of course)

– Staff changes and additions

– Website content additions, especially freebies

– Events you sponsor or co-sponsor

Once your business is launched, every milestone that you noted in your business planning is an opportunity for a press release. Be creative and stay on top of the process. Interesting news is important, but consistency is critical.

Meet the Press

The best planned PR campaign is only as effective as who it reaches. Do your due diligence in finding the right news sources to reach your potential customers. Most newspapers and television stations have editors dedicated to business news. Find out who they are and make an effort to get to know them. Let them know that, plese visit:- as an expert in whatever it is you do, you are more than happy to provide information on your business, industry, target market, or whatever else they need. One great way to meet members of the press (local, anyway) is through networking events. If there is an important guest or popular speaker, chances are the beat reporter will be there. While everyone else is clamoring to make contact with the star, take that opportunity to get to know the reporter.

Building a good relationship with the right members of the press is invaluable. If they can count on you to provide informative and interesting quotes or sound bites, you will not only build your reputation as the expert in your field, but your company will garner free advertising every time you are used as a source.

Finding the right outlets, and knowing their editorial schedules, is critical. Don’t just randomly send out press releases, but do your homework so you know they are going to the right person at the right publication. Most magazines have a three-month advance requirement, meaning articles they write today will not be published for three months. Local newspapers and magazines tend to have much shorter news cycles. Keep this in mind when setting up your public relations marketing plan. Select the media outlets that are likely to meet your objectives. Whatever your target market reads, that’s where you want to be. Gather all the editorial information you can about these sources. Read the magazines (and subscribe), watch the TV shows. Pay attention to the details of how they present information. If a single, square, color photograph is standard with an article, be sure that is what you send. If articles are short, keep your press release short. Building these contacts takes time, but is well worth your effort. After a few distributions, you will establish a system for reaching your best opportunities and the time required will be significantly reduced.

Writing the Right Press Release

Press editors are flooded with press releases, often reviewing a hundred or more each day. The trick is to make your press releases stand out to the reviewer. Every news item you distribute should say “News Release” and your company name at the top. Avoid sending press releases on standard letterhead. The next line is your headline. Headlines can be the most difficult, yet most important line in the entire document. It needs to grab the editor’s attention and urge them to read on. Reporters and journalists are looking for news items that are important to their readers. Spend some time on the headlines, they are your first obstacle to getting free press.

The body of your press release contains two parts — the news item itself and a general company description. The news item should include complete answers to the classic questions — who, what, when, where, why, and how. Use an active voice — say what you do, not have done or will do. Include quotes from you or other key employees and be sure to make the information relevant and interesting to your target market.

The final paragraph of your press release should be “About the Company” — a good description of what your business does. Include media contact information at the end, with at least your name, title, telephone number, and email address so that the contact can reach you for more information. Excellent samples of press releases from within your industry can be found at PRWeb by searching your keywords.

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