There are many common myths surrounding the ideas of Public Relations and in our world – startup PR. The most common myth being that PR is only about media releases and nagging journalists – we recommend not nagging and taking a much more friendly approach.
But there are several myths surrounding the idea of startup PR that are less talked about but more rampant - which is why we felt it was our responsibility to set things straight.
Here are five startup PR myths we at Onboardly would like to put an end to:
1. You Have to Pay for Coverage
Recently, a hot topic appeared on the headlines of TechCrunch when an American PR agency was caught charging clients a fee in exchange for coverage on TechCrunch. The idea that this was going on was so troubling, that TC reporter Alexia Tsotsis addressed the issue herself in a follow-up article, even going so far as to offer to personally pay back all those who were taken advantage of by the agency.
The moral of the story? You should never have to pay for press coverage. While there is a substantial difference in hiring a freelancer to pen a submission on your behalf for a major third party publication (Huffington Post, Fast Company or Forbes) – never agree to paying a reporter or agency a fee for an article. A great agency will know how to get you the press coverage you want – for free.
2. Knowing a Writer = Guaranteed Press Coverage
We’ve talked before about the importance of building a relationship with a writer before you ask them to cover your startup. The simple rule of “make friends before you need friends” always applies especially when you are pitching the media. But don’t be quick to assume just because you’ve made a friend at Mashable that they will always cover your news.
While having a connection or an in at any media outlet is a bonus – it should never be taken for granted. For starters – at the end of the day, you are not really friends with this writer. Which means if you bombard them with far too many pitches or inquiries – there will be no hard feelings on their end when they end correspondence. Similarly, your contact may cover all things SaaS which was great when your last company was founded but now your new startup and mobile app just closed a round of funding and you’re ready to announce it to the world. Your contact probably isn’t the best person for the job which means two bad things can happen; they take a crack at it anyway and the quality of the piece is lacking or they don’t write it at all.
Guaranteed press coverage? Not always. Which is why you should always, actively engage with writers from a variety of outlets on the regular via Twitter or commenting on their recent posts. Build your network before you need it. The wider the network – the more opportunity.
3. It’s All in the Press Release
When preparing media assets and your media kit, the final touch is always the media release. Typically, it is the one asset that requires the most time and concentration and should always highlight the problem-solution fit, your value proposition and your call to action. And it should be top notch.
But don’t get entirely caught up in the press release and assume it is the key to securing media coverage. We often tell our own clients that while a high level media release is important – it will rarely be the hook that sells the journalist. The hook is always in the pitch.
This means that while it’s important to spend time drafting and perfecting a great release – it’s equally as important, if not more, to have a high impact, personalized pitch for every writer.
4. Quantity vs Quality
Another common misconception about media coverage is that a lot of press is better than only a little bit of press. But be warned – we like to follow the general idea that high quality press coverage is better than high quantity.
Let’s say your startup is making a funding announcement. You’ve secured interest from various media outlets and you’ve had several great interviews with writers. When the embargo lifts – you end up with coverage on ten outlets. You may find yourself in the situation where eight of those pieces are merely representations of the media release you circulated while two pieces are thought provoking pieces that really look at your value prop and why it’s important – not just that you’ve closed a funding round.
At the end of the day – it’s those unique pieces that you want and while it’s great to have your name in lights everywhere, several high quality pieces can have just as much impact as a dozen that are all the same.
5. You Need to Hire a PR Firm
You may think that this is where we tell you that yes – you should always hire someone to do Startup PR for your startup and that we’re the team for the job. But we know that’s not the case for everyone. We also understand that there are a lot of startups out there without the funding or the means to bring on an agency to help out with press outreach.
We’re here to debunk the myth that you won’t survive without it. You can. It should come as no shock that the internet is abundant with great resources and there are many out there to help you every step of the way when it comes to startup PR. From affordable startup plays to high level tips and tricks from the experts at KISSmetrics – you aren’t alone and anyone who tells you that you won’t succeed without the help of a PR agency is wrong.
Got a myth you’d like us to set straight? Leave us a comment below and we’ll happily shed some light!