Expert PR tips for start-ups

When launching a start-up, it’s important to think about what people are saying about your business. As part of the Virgin Media Business VOOM Tour, LondonMedia is offering entrepreneurs some free PR advice, we caught up with one of their team Katie Kilburn, to find out her tips for start-ups…

What is PR and why is it important for start-ups?

In a nutshell, public relations (PR) is the way organisations, companies and individuals communicate with the public and media.

Businesses can succeed or fail depending on what people say about them. The impact of an influencer comment, an article or even an online review can have a huge effect on everything from sales to raising investment.

What are the biggest mistakes start-ups make with PR?

1. Not distilling their story.

Number one on your PR to-do list should be to distil your narrative and key messages. It’s essential that you can succinctly outline your business in a way that instantly grabs people’s attention and can be easily understood. Think about pulling together an ‘elevator pitch’ which perfectly sums up who you are in less than sixty seconds.

2. Not defining clear objectives

Secondly, ensure your communications objectives are aligned with your business objectives. If your PR efforts don’t help your business do better - what’s the point?

The best PR objectives start from knowing your audience. Who do you want to get your business in front of? How do they consume their news and information? What channels are they on? How can you best reach them?

Remember, the media landscape is constantly evolving. Traditional media is important, but less so than it used to be. Try to think about other ways of getting your information out there – whether that’s engaging with customers directly on social media, working with influencers (those with the right social following for your audience), or creating your own interesting content (visual or written).

How can start-ups create an engaging story and get journalists interested?

Think about it from two angles – the business audience and the end-user audience.

1. For a business audience

Is your business doing something disruptive? What will this mean for the future of your industry? Is your team made up of people with a strong reputation within the industry?

2. For a consumer/ end-user audience

What are you doing that’s innovative or different? How will you change people’s lives? Why are you doing it? Is there a story behind what you want to achieve?

Focus on your key points of difference and remember the human-interest angle. The media love people stories. 

What if a start-up doesn’t have a story?

There's always a story! If you’re immersed in your business every day, it can be hard to find that hook that makes you stand out – but it is there… Try talking to people outside your business to spark ideas.

What are your top tips for start-ups when approaching journalists?

1. Identify the right journalists or influencers and be relevant

Blanket emails are rarely effective so it’s best to identify one person at a time – ideally a journalist or influencer who has written something similar before – and then take a personal approach.

2. Think visually

Newspapers – particularly their online versions – are hungry for high quality images and well shot video content. Good visual collateral can help push your story over the line from interest to coverage.

For more PR advice, join the VOOM Tour as it visits cities across the UK and Ireland. The next stop will be Newcastle on July 6th, sign up to register your interest and enter the pitching competition to win £5,000 and brunch with Richard Branson.

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