Achieve Unicorn PR Status on a Startup Budget

By: Kevin Dinino
Category: Startup | Strategy

Today’s tech startups and the media landscape share so much in common: low attention span, competition galore and everyone is looking for the next big thing. It’s not easy to be a startup these days, much less the marketing or public relations manager operating on a shoestring budget with high expectations for cover stories in Wired and invites to panels at Davos (kidding, well not really).

Where do you start? Clearly, you’re going to have get creative and ultimately, take a chance or two.

Here are five ways to focus your energy and resources on public relations:

  1. Be nimble – you’re a startup, after all – this means that the media that cover your space are very busy and as noted above, have about 5 seconds to read your pitch and act on a decision. So when an opportunity to work with the media strikes – move quickly.
  2. Be a media resource – some of the best PR opportunities are grown the old-fashioned way, by building a relationship with reporters that cover your space. Help them – share insight on a trend that impacts your work, point to compelling data or an industry report and what it means. Make their job as easy as possible. It’s these small things that over time lead to that awesome interview opportunity or feature story. Trust is not built overnight.
  3. Know your target market -seems easy, right? So many startups try to be all things to everyone in search of the quest for growth –and they fail. By targeting a specific audience and market, you can get to know that audience very well and master the media who cover the space. In many cases, achieving trade media success leads to targeted viewership and sales impact.
  4. Leverage untapped resources – hand pick a relevant industry association or local think tank to volunteer in an advisory capacity. These organizations often have great networking with other growing or mature organizations and the infrastructure to support broader marketing and communications initiatives that you/your startup can likely leverage – without footing the bill.
  5. Newsjack – this takes some effort and ups the ante with risk – but if done right, the rewards can be glorious. Newsjacking takes a great PR campaign and plays it into current events. Look at what a $6,000 budget did for Bud Light with its ingenious “victory fridge” campaign, it blanketed Cleveland during last year’s NFL season.

It’s important to remember that consistency is key and that public relations isn’t something you turn on and off like a light switch. You build a good pace and momentum, and then try to stay consistent. A strong startup PR program should always be a few steps ahead and take advantage of the resources many take for granted.

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