Friday, 25 July 2014

Start-up Founders Guide to Public Relations

I've often been amazed by how under-utilized PR is by companies in Silicon Valley.  Often, the vast majority of press you read is limited to simply funding announcements,  product launches and M&A. Since most companies can go quite some time without either of the above happening, many companies pop up onto our radar only to disappear just as quickly as they appeared.

In addition, the few times that companies have the opportunity to get on +Techcrunch, +Venturebeat or the +WallStreetJournal, they don't fully take advantage of the opportunity when they have unclear messaging, rambling product descriptions or miss the opportunity to tell us how their company truly differentiates in the market place.

Finally, when #startup entrepreneurs do get it right they get a brief 24 hour spot in the sunlight which is basically the only public presence that they have until their next press release 6 months later.  What kind of brand presence can you build and sustain over 6 months with two press releases?  Not much.

The reality is that if you're going to do PR seriously you need to need to be religious about it.   Like sales, customer retention, 30 DAU's etc you need to set yourself some goals, measure performance, iterate and improve.  Most importantly, you need to be on it constantly.

When I ran marketing at #GetJar several years ago we put out 2-3 press releases each month.  These were then measured and tracked using #Meltwater and we could go back to our board at the end of the month and tell them the exact dollar value of PR, where we achieved coverage, how much we had vs. competition and how much it cost us to get there.  Not only did we release the obvious like funding announcements, key hires and awards but we also heavily promoted our strategic partnerships with the likes of #ATT, #Yahoo! and others.  We leveraged our data to create blog posts giving people an idea of where the app industry was going (like the App Sizing report with +ChetanSharmaconsulting), which platforms were relevant, which apps most popular and what this meant for the industry as a whole.  We had an opinion and weren't shy about expressing it.  The results at the time spoke for themselves: coverage in every major tech blog on nearly a quarterly basis, winning over 1/2 awards over 2 years, being nominated as "One of The Companies that will change your Life" by #TIME magazine in 2011 and appearances on #CNBC, #BBC, and #Reuters to name a few.

But that's not really the point of this post.  The point is that anybody can significantly boast the visibility and even value of their company by understanding the basics of doing good PR.  Hiring the right agency, the basics of writing a press release, how to leverage social media like #Facebook, #Twitter, #Google+ and #Quibb to make your news go viral and how to evolve the structure of your PR efforts as your company scales.

So enough talk - to make it easier for you I've put together this short Intro to Public Relations deck as part of my work here at #SigniaVC.  It's only about 20 slides and should be short and simple reading.  I hope you enjoy it and feel free to post, tweet me #madmork or email me if you have comments or questions.

Good luck!

Madmorks' Intro to Public Relations