PR Secrets for Startups

PR Secrets for Startups

Guest author of TechCrunch Brian Solis

Solis is the Principal of FutureWorks, a PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley and also blogs at PR 2.0. Along with Geoff Livingston, Solis recently co-authored Now is Gone, a book that helps businesses learn how to leverage new and social media.


I’ve been overwhelmed with requests from executives and PR
professionals to explain how this new media (r)evolution applies to
them specifically and how they can make PR more effective and personal
during these interesting times. I recently discussed it here
and have been doing so for a long, long time. But since conversations
and attention is discontinuous and distributed, I asked if I could
bring this discussion to a more prominent online epicenter to help
reach a wider array of those looking for answers.

The Long Road Back to Public Relations

Public Relations is experiencing a long overdue renaissance and its
forcing PR stereotypes out from behind the curtain where they operated
comfortably for far too many decades. It didn’t begin this
transformation because of Web 2.0 or the latest Social Media wave, but
instead in the 90’s when the Web gained mass adoption. Yes, it’s taken
that long and it will continue to evolve over the next decade as
communications professionals struggle with putting the public back in
public relations.

Regardless of what we think we know about PR and the New Media or
Social Media revolution, the truth is that we actually may know less
about everything than we care to believe. These are times where we can
lead and learn in order to improve an industry long plagued by
misconceptions and the lack of PR for itself.

PR is now more than ever, something more capable and influential
than simply writing and sending press releases to contacts generated by
media databases. The media landscape has been completely blown open to
not only include traditional media, but also bloggers and most
importantly the very people we want to reach, our customers.

PR 1.0

About 100 years ago, Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays
created and defined the art and science of modern-day PR. Believe it or
not, their philosophies and contributions can still be used to further
evolve PR today – especially when it comes to Social Sciences.

Over the years, the PR 1.0 publicity machine lost its way and its
spark. We got caught up in hype, spin, buzzwords, and spam, and forgot
that PR was supposed to be about Public Relations. But, its still how
many companies continue to approach PR today.

Enter Social Media and the democratization of the Web and content.
Now media and content producers are pushing back, demanding a more
targeted and relevant form of outreach. For those who confuse Social
Media with online marketing, Social Media is anything that uses the
Internet to facilitate conversations between people – it is not the
practice of social marketing. I say people, because it humanizes the
process of communications when you think about conversations instead of
companies marketing at audiences.

PR 2.0 = Conversational PR

The Web changed everything and this ongoing reinvention of PR has been dubbed PR 2.0 or New PR.

PR 2.0, as I defined it many years ago, is the realization that the
Web changed everything, inserting people equally into the process of
traditional influence. Suddenly we were presented with the opportunity
to not only reach our audiences through media gatekeepers, but also use
the online channels where they publish and share information to
communicate more directly and genuinely.

At the very least, PR 2.0 is going back to the roots of PR to bring back relating to the public back into the process.

Now it’s about listening and, in turn, engaging influencers and
stakeholders on their level. It forces PR to stop broadcasting and
start connecting.

It is a chance to not only work with traditional journalists, but
also engage directly with a new set of accidental influencers, and, it
is also our ability to talk with customers directly.

No BS. No hype. It’s an understanding of markets, the needs of
people, and how to reach them at the street level—without insulting
everyone along the way. Conversational PR is becoming a hybrid of
communications, customer service, evangelism, and Web marketing.

The evolution from PR 1.0 to PR 2.0 will result in more informed,
effective, and meaningful Public Relations, without a version number.
It’ll just be good PR.

So what does this mean for you?

It means you have to start thinking about things more intelligently, differently, and personally.

The Secrets

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur with a recently funded company in need
of users, or perhaps you’re bootstrapped and actively seeking financing
and you need a little something that will land you a more attractive
term sheet.

Every VC, as well as every successful entrepreneur, will tell you
that great PR can make you, whereas bad or mediocre PR can stifle your
growth and possibly damage existing and prospective relationships. And,
they all have ideas on how you should proceed.

But right now, the main thing that stands between you and success is
getting those customers – and good press (traditional and new media)
builds the bridge between you and them.

In order to get to the next level, you need to know the secrets of
effective PR, especially in today’s competitive Web 2.0 world.

These are critical times for your business and you can’t simply
entrust the future of your brand to anyone who knows how to write a
press release, place it on the wire, and send it via email.

Secret #1
Understand You’re Not the Only Story in Town

Bloggers and reporters are some of the busiest people you could
possibly hope to meet. They’re actively looking for the most
interesting, relevant, and linkable stories out there, preferably
before anyone else can run with it. But truthfully, they spend most of
their time hacking through the weeds of generic or over-the-top inbound
emails, press releases, Facebook messages, Skypes, SMSes, Tweets, and
IMs. It’s almost a small miracle that anyone can ever get their story
told.

At the end of the day, you’re not the only company with a great
story. Just because your story is new doesn’t make it newsworthy.

Bloggers and journalists are interested in good stories and the more
time you spend developing that story up front, for each person you’re
trying to reach, the more you can help them help you.

Secret #2
Pick the Right Person or Team to Lead PR.

Your investors or advisors will tell you one of two things, usually
starting with “you need PR.” From there, they’ll usually recommend that
you either bring on an agency or consultant, one that they’ve worked
with and can highly recommend. Or, they’ll suggest that you need to do
it yourself (DIY) in order to build relationships with those who are
highly respected in your target markets while conserving cash.

While DIY PR sounds good, you’ll quickly learn however, that it
takes more time than you think to reach those people. Besides, you have
other things to focus on and any good PR program will place you in a
position to build relationships with the influencers that matter to
your business.

Anyone can write a press release and blast it to a bunch of people.
Remember, sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you just
get ripped off. So, it’s important that you find the right solution
that you can afford, but at the same time, offer your PR team the
ability to deliver on the results that are realistic to what you need
now.

When you do meet with PR people, evaluate them based on their
ability to tell you succinctly who they have represented and pay
attention to how well they summarize each company and what they do.
Having existing relationships and the ability to show previous results
is not optional.

Also quiz them on whether or not they understand the market, tech,
benefits and the challenge as it relates to you specifically. If they
can’t sell you on your product, how do you expect them to sell it to
skeptical bloggers and journalists.

The two most important things to ask a potential PR consultant or
agency are 1) do you have the bandwidth required to help us achieve
these defined objectives and – if it’s an agency – 2) who’s going to
work on my account and if it’s not you, can I meet the others on the
team as well.

More Secrets at orig article ….

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