Launching a new business has never been easier thanks to the Internet. Startups and small businesses are constantly booming thanks to this new vast digital landscape, so it is important now more than ever to be seen. Whether you have secured financial backing or are self-funded, marketing and PR are often not at the top of a startup’s to-do list on a lean budget but incorporating a PR strategy into your launch is a must. Here are four startup marketing and PR dos to ensure media success in today’s technology-driven marketing when starting your own business:
1. INVEST IN PHOTOGRAPHY
Today’s consumer marketplace is visual. Quality photography allows you to capture the beauty of your product or service and make it easier for editors seeking images for their editorial coverage. Take the time to decide how you want your audience to perceive your brand and then collaborate with a photographer to connect the right angle, lighting and aesthetic that communicates your vision visually.
Within your marketing collateral, make sure you have high-resolution product stills on models, lifestyle images and against a plain white backdrop. If you have a service-based business, be sure your images convey the service you are providing. Integrating some stock images is okay, but designate either a half-day per week or one weekend per month for the first few months to curate your own organic images that capture your brand’s aesthetic.
2. ROLE OF WEBSITE
Your website is your single hardest working employee. It is working for you 24/7. As a marketing tool, its function is to sell products and services, generate sales and legitimize your business digitally. It serves as the initial greeter into your brand’s ethos and messaging.
As a PR resource, be sure your website is attractive; contains social media links; ready for the influx of traffic; items need to be available for purchase; has email capture; and have a means to respond to consumer inquiries before beginning your outreach. Your website needs to be easy to navigate with crisp, clear images, language that speaks to your culture and secure payment process. Editors won’t cover products and services that aren’t available for their readers to experience as well. Once you receive coverage, consider adding a slider or clickable image on your homepage that directs visitors where they can get more information on the product or service you just received coverage on.
3. HARNESSING THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
After your website, social media is your second hardest working employee. It requires your brand to communicate its authentic self, be accessible and extend your brand ethos through imagery and captions. Social media is a proven, cost-effective marketing tool for driving word-of-mouth for your business. Facebook and Twitter are great for distributing content, media placements and establishing your brand in the marketplace. Instagram is a visual platform that’s great for communicating the lifestyle of your brand. New entrant, Snapchat, has established itself as a great resource for campaign teases and behind-the-scenes glimpses that humanizes brands, Pinterest is ideal for sharing tips and curating ideas.
Combined, these platforms allow you to curate your brand’s story and communicate directly with your audience; so developing a well-thought-out strategy is a must. From consumer regards to hashtag selection, each post creates another footprint in your startup’s story.
As part of your PR outreach, use your social networks to share images and links to press hits with a thank-you to the news outlet goes a long way in furthering your relationships with editors. It also is another means to connect directly with editors and influencers and gain feedback as well as build relationships.
4. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Startups often miss out on opportunities because of poor timing. During the development process, time is allocated for samples, manufacturing, production, website design/update, photography, etc. but does not include media outreach. Why? Media coverage provides your brand with exposure and gives you legitimacy.
Plan accordingly. Timing is an important factor in how much coverage a story may receive. Media outlets operate 4-6 months in advance for print, and 3-4 weeks for digital. An on-going calendar of industry-related events, conferences, national and hashtag holidays will aid in your media outreach planning. Be sure to research the editors and influencers prior to contacting them - read their past work and understand their content to ensure your brand aligns with them. In your pitch, embed all the information they need to help them do their job, including: image, description, pricing and where it can be purchased. If you are in the alpha/beta-launch phase, use that time to get editor’s (and influencer’s) feedback and build a relationship. When you are ready to launch, reach back out to the same editors (and influencers) and allow them the exclusive at your release. Remember, they love what’s new and trending.
Ultimately, it’s not one thing or another that generates buzz, rather it is typically many things working together that produces results. Once you have established your initial buzz, have a plan in place for ways to sustain the momentum and avoid the lulls. Happy pitching!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
S. Angelique Mingo is the Creative Director at Sinala Noir,
a fashion and lifestyle communications agency for contemporary brands on the rise. S. Angelique designs multi-tiered public relations and social media strategies to help generate buzz and build brand awareness. She specializes in storytelling, brand development and project management and is known for her energetic, hit-the-ground running approach to every client.