Many startups want to get their name in front of everyone, thinking that more placements means that they’ll reach more buyers.
But this ignores two important facts:
- Not everyone is your customer.
- Not everyone should be your customer.
Instead of getting as many placements as possible, here are four ways to get higher-quality PR coverage that reaches the people who matter.
1. Set Goals to Drive Success
To understand how your PR efforts will have the biggest impact, you need to define your program’s goals.
Common goals our clients have include…
- Establish credibility among potential investors.
- Raise brand awareness among potential customers.
- Improve brand affinity among current and potential customers.
- Educate potential employees about your company as a great place to work.
When you define your goals early on, your PR team will be able to craft a program that helps you meet them by targeting the publications and focusing on the messages that are most important for the audience(s) you want to reach.
Pointer: Better SEO should not be the primary goal of any PR program. While improved SEO can be a tangential benefit of regular media placements, PR is meant to generate awareness and increase credibility.
2. Get the Right Message in Front of the Right People
Your product isn’t for everyone, so your PR efforts shouldn’t try to reach everyone.
The internet has made it easy for consumers with the same interests, needs, and wants to congregate in one place. These narrowly defined groups, called “tribes” (according to marketing guru Seth Godin), have similar problems and need tailored solutions.
Your “tribe” consists of the people who are highly likely to buy the product or service you’re offering – it’s just what they need!
Let’s return to the goals listed above to see how your PR program might target the right people based on what you’re hoping to achieve:
- If you want to be visible among investors, the most impactful PR program might focus on your business model and the immense growth opportunity before you.
- If you’re hoping to get in front of a customer audience, your public relations team will likely work on getting placements about how your products or services solve common problems.
- If you’re hoping to get the word out among potential employees, your PR team will probably focus on stories about your team, your office, and what it’s like to work at your company.
“Sure,” you might be thinking, “But wouldn’t I reach ALL these audiences at the same time by getting a single placement in a major publication like the Wall Street Journal?”
But “reaching” an audience isn’t the same thing as connecting with them. And even if you were mentioned in a WSJ piece, it’s not likely that piece would include messaging that would signal your company’s relevance to each of your target audiences.
While a WSJ piece might mention your company as part of a trend, along with a few other companies in your space, a startup-focused publication might run a think piece from your CEO about the future of your industry.
A trade magazine might publish an interview with your head of product about how your services are reducing major headaches for your customers.
A local publication might do a full profile of what it’s like to work at your office.
In other words, if you focus your PR efforts on communicating specific messages to the tribes you most want to hear it, and getting those messages in the outlets your tribes are paying attention to, you’ll likely see a bigger impact than if you blast a generic message to a top-tier publication that some of your audience may see.
3. Make the Most of Micro Media
Micro media are publications that cater to a very specific tribe. It’s where tribes go to share ideas, learn how to solve problems, and advance their knowledge.
Think of that one blog you have bookmarked and check each morning because you always learn something useful. Or that podcast you look forward to every week for the same reason.
Micro media publications proliferate thanks to the internet – today’s web tools make it easy for anyone to launch a blog, newsletter, podcast, or online digest for the topics they care about. And that’s good news for anyone currently trying to target a specific audience with a specific message – anyone with a PR program, in other words.
If your PR team suggests targeting micro media, that means they’ve found outlets whose audiences are a home-run hit for one of your key messages. Even if the audience is relatively small, it will likely be hyper-targeted, meaning you can rest assured your name and ideas are getting in front of the right people.
4. Allocate Your Resources Wisely
PR takes a lot of time. The most successful programs flourish thanks to consistent, sustained effort.
So it’s important, especially for startups, to spend that effort where the payout is going to be the highest.
The cost (in time if you’re doing it, or in money if an agency is) of blindly pitching the 30 largest outlets will, more times than not, outweigh the benefits. For one thing, you’re probably casting the net too wide: a lot of those publications may not care about what you’re pitching them.
For another, if you’re focusing only on pitching, you probably don’t have much time to build relationships and conduct meaningful conversations that might turn into more meaningful coverage.
To narrow down a list of people to pitch, look for those who…
- Have strong ties to their audience.
- Influence their readers’ decision-making process.
- Are a perfect fit for the news or commentary you want to share.
When you’re deciding where to put limited resources, focus on pitching the handful of publications where you can make the biggest impact – with readers, viewers, or listeners who are highly likely to be your customers – and on following up with people you’ve worked with in the past.
(That doesn’t always mean sending an email – get more tips for building relationships that drive media coverage in our guide to DIY PR for Startups.)
Don’t Count Placements
One last thought about making sure you get impactful media coverage: don’t focus on how many placements you get. It’s meaningless to get 1,000 placements if none of them reach the right people with the right message or if you do nothing with them after they happen.
Instead, focus on whether you’ve achieved the goals you laid out at the start of your PR program. Have you been featured in places relevant to your target audiences? Those are the ones that will have the most impact.
Curious about how various publications might help raise your company’s profile? Check out our PR Potential checklist to see how much you could benefit from a PR program.