Your mother was right – - you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
The Holy Grail for many entrepreneurs is getting press. While this is a worthwhile goal, many startups go about it in the wrong way, and fail miserably. Others may get the desired coverage, but then do not effectively leverage the public relations value for future opportunities.
Here are the 5 top mistakes startups make, and how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: Launching a PR Campaign Too Soon
You’re chomping at the bit to let everyone know how absolutely wonderful your idea/product/service is, and decide that sooner is better. Sound familiar? If so, take a cold shower and rethink your strategy.
Many companies launch in one form, and a few pivots later end up a completely different animal. If you pitched the media on your initial idea, you will not have much luck getting anyone to pay attention a second time (unless you have street cred from a previous startup success).
Key takeaway: Make sure you are ready for primetime, before you court the press.
Mistake #2: The Wrong Pitch
You’ve pivoted once or twice, your customer base is growing, and you’re ready to get some media love. You reach out to the press, and dead silence. What did you do wrong?
Journalists are always on the lookout for fresh content, but sending them a generic press release without a specific angle is going to fall flat. A much better approach is to craft a pitch that is targeted to the writer’s publication, and clearly explains how your product can benefit their readers. And make sure you’ve actually read some of the writer’s articles and blog posts!
Key takeaway: Spend time coming up with a unique angle that provides value to a specific audience.
Mistake #3: Playing Hide and Seek With Important Information
So you’ve caught a journalist’s attention with a well-timed, well-crafted pitch, and now they want to know more. The first thing they are going to do is go to your website for additional information, and you don’t want to disappoint. If they have to dig around for what they need, they will leave and never come back.
Makes their job easier by providing a digital press kit that contains a company fact sheet, the founder’s bio, and high res photos of the product. Also include any previous press coverage, and customer testimonials.
Key takeaway: You’ll win friends in the media by making information accessible on your website.
Mistake #4: Not Taking Advantage Of Media Coverage
Congratulations! You’ve received some press coverage including the ultimate TechCrunch profile. Your website received a huge surge in traffic, and you’ve been asked to sit on a panel at the next startup event. Stop gloating! Do you have any idea how many companies were in the same position, and then blew it?
One of the biggest mistakes you can now make is being complacent. You may have been the big news yesterday, but someone else has already taken your place. Unless you make a concerted effort to stay top of mind, you will soon be forgotten.
The good news is that there are many ways to leverage press coverage including the following:
Mistake #5: Not Following Up
It’s amazing how many people forget to make the simple yet powerful gesture of personally thanking a journalist for writing about their startup. Try sending a personal email, a DM tweet, or just pick up the phone and say thank you. You’ll not only stand out from the crowd, but will also make a good impression that will provide the foundation for a long-term relationship.
I’d love to hear about any PR mistakes you’ve made and what you learned.