The usual startup is hungry for a lot of things—funding, employees, customers, connections, and many more. However, with limited reach and exposure, startups may find it difficult to search and secure these goals to stabilize and expand their business. While seemingly not as immediate as, say, obtaining the required governmental permits or creating a budget, formulating a public relations or PR strategy allows startups to secure their footing on their brand and establish their presence in the scene to gain more opportunities to expand their business.
Do Startups Need PR?
Public relations offers you a way to dictate how your brand will be perceived by the rest of the world. In the early stage where there is a dire need to attract investors, customers, media coverage and anybody else that can support your startup, what is most important is having a reason for them to do so. The product of public relations is brand awareness and credibility. Marketing efforts may expose your brand to a wider audience, but public relations is what makes them take a second glance and consider your product or services. If advertising generates more profit for the brand, public relations generates your brand’s reputation and legitimacy.
Another reason to consider public relations for startups is that it allows you to have control on how your brand is presented. Information is now an asset that must be invested in and developed wisely. Ensuring the success of your brand means that you must also hold the reins as to how it is seen by the public and media.
Building The Foundations For Your PR Strategy
Before delving into the tactics and strategy, let us start first with what we have on hand. What exactly is your brand? Who does it cater to? What problems does it want to solve? What does the startup aim for? These questions will be important later on when creating a startup PR strategy, and would determine as well what your brand identity will be.
In order to start, you must first have a place where people interested in your products or services will go to to learn more. This can be your own website or blog, or social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Make sure that these are well-maintained and contain all the necessary information that your potential customers, investors, or journalists may need to know, such as your mission and vision, list of products or services, an “About Us” section, and whatever else you feel is necessary. Your site’s appearance also makes or breaks the first impression, so have a presentable visual format and user friendly UI/UX to keep them from closing the tab.
You should also consider whether you would want to hire a PR agency or do the PR work yourself. Hiring a PR agency allows you to focus on other important matters, and you get to work with people with more experience, resources, and connections to help you with your brand. If you’re on the road to becoming a successful startup in the Philippines, tapping into a PR agency can help you jumpstart your public relations efforts.
Public Relations for Startups
The ubiquitous startup PR strategy is pitching to media outlets—this could be anything from blogs, publications, broadcasting companies and even influencers. The idea is to pitch a story or feature that the recipient may be interested in covering, and in turn giving your brand some much-needed publicity and a media footprint. However, it is important to consider who you will be pitching to.
An important factor to note is who your target audience is. Rather than just looking for big-time journalists or famous bloggers, you should endeavor to find media outlets who are well-connected with the type of audience you want to attract. After all, it is the customers and not the media who generates your profit. Finding the right media would require some thorough research. Read up daily on the news, online articles to see who’s writing what. Google is your friend here if you know what keywords to type in. Compile them into a detailed list classified by the author, their contact information, and what type of content they cover. Here are some Philippine media outlets that Filipino startups may look into for a possible pitch, depending on the type of startup:
- Tech: YugaTech, TechPinas, TechnoBaboy
- Business: BusinessWorld, BizNewsAsia, Entrepreneur Philippines
- Lifestyle: Candy Magazine, Liwayway, Cosmo PH
- General: Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Inquirer
YugaTech reports launch of Rideshare startup “Arcade City” in 2018
Your pitch should be concise and to the point. Focus on what makes your pitch relevant to your recipient, the target demographic, what you have to offer, and who you are and what your startup is. You can pitch a couple of things that might interest the recipient to respond, such as:
- Newsworthy content (product launch, milestone achievements)
- Product pitch (product testing/review)
- Guest articles (thought leadership, opinions, commentary and/or advice)
- Speaker or host at an event, conference, seminar/webinar or podcast/video
Make sure to add that touch of human element to your emails. Maybe refer to them by their first name, or mention the article they wrote that caught your attention and brought you to offer them a pitch. Give them as much material to work with as they can, such as data, detailed information, commentary and the like to make their writing process easier. As early as now, you should start building amiable relationships with the media that are mutually beneficial. Who knows, maybe you can form partnerships in the future and they may be more likely to cover your brand when it counts.
Apart from pitching to media outlets, there are other startup PR strategies you can employ. Work on your website blog and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Distinguish yourself and your startup from the rest of the pack through creative means. Engage in social media—answer customers’ queries, make polls, or post engaging content. Organize events and invite journalists to cover them. There are many ways to put your brand out there for Filipino startups, and each provides a different way of accomplishing a certain goal, so look through your options carefully to see what may be the best option.
Filipinos are well-known to be social media maniacs, topping the charts for the most active on Facebook and general Internet usage, according to Rappler. The rise of social media also gave rise to influencers who have gained a massive following and have gotten sponsored by top brands and companies. For the Filipino startup, social media will be an important consideration to tack onto your startup PR strategies, especially famous ones such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. You may opt to incorporate them as your possible options or get the attention of an influencer who may be interested in your brand, as their reach in social media can help bolster your existing PR tactics.
Mommy Ginger, famous blogger and influencer, shares an interview with fellow momtrepreneur in her blog
Public relations for startups is a lot of work, and PR seems secondary to the other critical tasks you have to do. However, getting a working PR strategy up and running will help your startup get the exposure it needs to spring off the ground.
- Written by Russel Sastrillo