As a startup company, you are probably trying to keep your PR activities inhouse, rather than hiring an agency as it is often a pricey solution. But, you might not know enough about PR and thus decide to copy big companies and use their promoting strategies for your business. That’s not the best idea, as PR should be customized for every industry and every company differently. So, what can you do to get the most out of your current PR skills and what should you focus on?
- Nourish your internal communications
The first step in building brand presence is defining your internal communications. Internal communications (IC) are based on nourishing open communication in the company. IC’s main function is to produce messages and campaigns on behalf of management, as well as making the communication between all employees easier and developing the employees’ communication skills.
Even though its strategies vary from company to company, most companies focus on two things, which you should also consider:
develop your company’s strategy to define what your company hopes to achieve and how it will be achieved. There are different ways to develop this strategy. You might think that only the management should take part in this process. You might want to include other teams like the human resources team or you can include every team and all employees. Either way, make sure to define it so you know what your goals are and how far (or close) you are from achieving them. Make sure that everyone in the company knows your plans and ways of achieving them, as you are all focused on the same goal.
That’s why you will also need to develop your internal communications strategy. It will educate your employees about your goals, the market you want to cover, the kind of customers you want to attract, how you will communicate with the market, which messages you want to give out, which channels will be used for that purpose, etc.
When making these strategies, keep in mind that most of your employees are active online on various channels. By working in your company, they automatically take part in your niche to some extent. You could use their help in raising brand presence. They could spread your message to their social media followers. That way, they would spread the pool of people who have heard about your company, who want to learn more about it, who want to be a part of it, who want to use your services or whatever it is that you defined with your company strategy. Not only should you educate your employees about your goals and future plans, you should also include them (at least to some extent) in deciding what your next steps are going to be. If they do not agree with them, they will not talk about it online (or they will talk about it – negatively), nor will they stay at your company for a long time. And no startup can succeed without the people.
Once you’ve decided on these strategies, it is time to implement them in building your brand presence. Here are the other most important steps to consider in this process.
2. Work on social media presence:
Spreading the word about your company is one of the first tasks you’ll have to do to build your online presence. And what’s the easiest (and free) way to do it nowadays? Using the power of social media.
When writing this blog, I came across a lot of startups who only use one or two social media networks. Usually, it’s either Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Since we live in the age of social media, this is wrong, especially for businesses that are just starting out and need to be present all over the Internet. Why you may ask? Well, social media can be very beneficial, if you use it right.
The more social media platforms you cover, the more your chances are of promoting your business, reaching out to people, talking directly to your (potential) customers, seeing what your competitors are up to, understanding new trends in your industry, and else. As a new PR company, you should focus on social media marketing. Create accounts on as many social media platforms you need (the “basics” are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), but you can also search for other platforms if they fit your goals (for example, Reddit, Quora, HARO, etc.) You’re also going to need a coherent webpage, and your own blog page won’t do any harm either. It could be a platform for promoting your business through interesting, shareable blogs as well.
Of course, all this makes sense only if you actually post regularly on your accounts. It is not enough to post regularly, you also need to post wisely.
That’s why you should make a social media strategy for every platform you use. They may seem all the same, but they are definitely not. They all have a different audience and different promotion possibilities. That’s why your way of reaching out to people on these platforms has to be thought through your strategy.
When making a social media strategy keep the 3 w’s in mind. Who, what, and how. After you decide who it is you want to reach out to, what it is you want to give out to the public, and how you’re going to approach the audience with it on various social media platforms, create quality content on a regular basis. The kind of content I’m talking about is the one that will promote your brand, but also be interesting enough for your followers to engage with. The whole point of social media marketing is to produce content that your followers will interact with. And that way, in the long run, you can increase your brand awareness and broaden your customer base. So, think wisely and create interesting and useful content as much as you can.
3. Reach out to reporters & bloggers
Besides spreading the word about your business via social media, try doing it through reporters.
Check out online newspapers, magazines, and blogs that cover topics relevant for your niche. Then, search for official e-mails or other forms of contact that are publicly available at the pages of the authors of those articles. Once you gather all the relevant contacts you could find, make a list of reporters and bloggers who write about topics similar to your business. Reach out to them via e-mail to see if they would cover a story about your startup or include it in their next story. Make sure the pitch e-mail is short, personalized, and contains only the most important info.
And, most importantly, that it shows the reporter why covering the story about your startup would be useful to their article and how it fits into what they usually write about. Keep in mind that reporters and bloggers are not dying to cover a story about a small PR company (for free) unless you give them a great reason to do so.
4. Host events
Another great way to place yourself out there and make your voice heard is through hosting events. These events can be organized in various ways and with different goals in mind. It can be to get in touch with the market, to get in touch with your customers, or something else. What is important to keep in mind is, whichever it is you want to accomplish with the event, plan it out wisely.
As you will be reaching out to people directly through these events, they can help with various things. From raising brand awareness to meeting possible business partners or future employees. As you will (probably) host events in the same city that you work in, the people that come to your events might even someday apply for a job in your company.
But, as a company that is starting out, you should aim at raising the visibility of your services to potential clients. That can be best done by organizing a presentation or a talk. The topic of that kind of event should be something about your niche that will be useful for your possible clients. Get someone from your team with good presentation skills as a host. Getting someone from your team to talk is also a good idea, but getting an expert on the topic as a guest speaker is going to be like hitting a jackpot. An expert is probably already known to a lot of people which could bring more people into your event. They could share the news of the guest talk on their social media channels and that way also spread the word about you to more people.
But, same as with getting reporters to publish a story about you – you will have to work hard to get the experts to talk at your event. You have to give them a strong reason as to why they should take part in your event. Think about how they could gain from this guest talk and emphasize it when asking them to be your guest.
The main tip on event hosting is to focus on the structure of your event. Especially if it’s your first one as that first impression will stick with the audience. If you organize a bad event, they probably won’t come to the next one. Give yourself into organizing the best event possible. Take enough time to organize it and do all you can to host an educational and useful but also interesting, fun and well-organized event.
5. Track what is being said about your company online
Besides boosting your social media presence and reaching out to reporters and bloggers, another great way of promoting your startup is with the help of media monitoring tools. As we explained in the previous part, when promoting your brand, it is important to boost your social media presence and reach out to reporters & bloggers. But, it is also wise to put media monitoring tools in the equation. You keep in mind that these tools can come in handy when reaching out to reporters and bloggers as they can help you track who published your press release (learn more about it in our blog How to track which websites published your press release). You should also remember that when sending out information to the public, it is important to receive feedback. It’s easy to know what people think about your startup when someone comments on your posts or sends you a direct message.
But, what about the hundreds and thousands of online mentions of your company that you have no knowledge of since you were not directly mentioned in them? That’s where media monitoring comes to the rescue. It tracks online mentions of any term you want to track that way giving you amazing data that you can then use in your favor.
By tracking online mentions of your brand across social media, web, blogs, forums, etc. you will be able to engage with people directly. Especially those who could be your potential customers. That way, you can see what people are saying about your brand and keep up with the features they see as positive. Or, you can work on the negative ones before they choose your competitor over you.
Speaking of competitors, not only should you track online mentions of your own company, but you should also track online mentions of your competitors.
Mediatoolkit offers a great competitor analysis. It will enable you to compare all the mentions of your brand with the mentions of your competitor(s). As seen in the example below, I’m tracking some of the most important gaming startups. Their competitive analysis enables me to see total mentions per query for each, share of voice, total mentions per channel, top influencers talking about each, etc. and the tool then compares all of those segments for me.
To make it a bit clearer, here’s an example of what the Share of voice between Gamestream, Seemba, Klang Games, Sviper and Sorare looks like in the tool:
If you want to read more about competitor analysis, our blog How to use media monitoring for competitor analysis will be great for learning. Since you and your competitors have the same pool of potential customers, it is important to see what is being said about their product to improve your own. In the long run, that could turn that pool of potential customers into loyal customers.
Of course, to do that, you have to give your customers a quality service and something your competition cannot. That’s why it is also important to track the latest trends in your industry.
Conclusion: use all the help you can
As startups begin in small teams with usually small fundings and no PR experts to help them with their PR strategy, online presence and brand awareness, and, since PR should be customized for every industry and every company differently, it is important for startups to use all the free (and freeish) help available.
Besides defining your company’s strategy, boosting your social media presence, reaching out to reporters who write about topics concerning your niche, or hosting educational and interesting events, there’s another ally you should consider. It’s media monitoring tools. They can be powerful allies in making the most out of your PR strategy and helping the message about your startup be heard. Be it through tracking of online mentions of your brand all over the Internet, tracking which websites published your press release, competitor analysis, or other useful insights, media monitoring will help you build your brand presence.
To try out media monitoring yourself. Start your 7-day free trial with Mediatoolkit today. Don’t hesitate, get your startup growing!