Gaining good press is an important objective for most startups. It is a good way to reach a large audience and has a credibility beyond paid advertising. That said, PR agencies can be very expensive. Most don’t like to start working with startups for anything less than $5,000 per month and usually target relationships that are north of $10,000. For early companies, this is simply out of reach.
Ken Westin, the founder of GadgetTrak, has had impressive results in getting press for his company without the aid of a PR firm. Despite being self-funded and entirely bootstrapped, Ken has managed to get his company and product featured nationally in such programs and publications as Dateline NBC, Good Morning America, CBS Evening news, Forbes, Newsweek, NY Times and others. This is an impressive list that would make any company envious.
How did he do it? Here is what Ken recommends:
- Build relationships with the press personally. He emphasized the importance of giving the press access to founders.
- Polish and practice your pitch. Force yourself to condense your message and deliver it in an accessible way. Don’t use industry or technical jargon.
- To get connected, overcome your fear and reach out to the media outlets you would like to be covered by. No media outlet is too big.
- Focus on the problem you solve. The customers problem is always more interesting than your technology.
- Write the story for them. Journalists are very busy. Present them with a compelling pre-written story with added information like statistics.
- Highlight how your product can be featured visually for television/video outlets.
- Have a blog with engaging content. Organic search is important to press and a blog help them find you for their story.
Granted, not every startup has a story as sexy as recovering stolen laptops, but with a little work and careful crafting of the stories you want told lean startups can accomplish a lot for a little. Target your media outlets, practice and refine your story, and enlist the founders of your company to become active spokespeople to the press and bloggers. You will be surprised at your own results.