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    Why startups need more than just press releases

    Why startups need more than just press releases

    You’ve got a solid business plan and secured funding, and you are eager to introduce your brand to the media. You’re told that you need PR, which stands for press release, right? 

    When discussing public relations with startups, the misconception that PR only involves press releases frequently surfaces. Add earned media — a specific type of PR — to the mix, and things get even murkier.

    Worse are the startups that believe their brands don’t need PR because they haven’t had any “bad press.” For the record, handling bad press (or proactively preventing it) is another specific type of PR called crisis communications.

    Considering today’s consumers spend more time researching brands — reading reviews, comparing products, listening to podcasts, seeing what trusted influencers say — than ever before, confusing earned media for crisis comms or writing a press release is a real problem.

    Your marketing materials will never be as influential as third-party validation, so if you want your startup to succeed, it’s time to understand how earned media falls under the PR umbrella.

    The PR umbrella

    Public relations generally refers to any form of strategic communication between a brand and the media. But colloquially, the definition has come to refer to moment-based press (and, yes, this includes press releases). Today, PR generally refers to engaging with the media to amplify a specific event, announcement, or moment — i.e., good and exciting things for your company. 

    Crisis communication also falls under the PR umbrella and is tied to specific events or moments — only this time, they’re negative ones. Whether it’s bad press you’ve already garnered and need to respond to or an upcoming event that could be portrayed negatively in the press (think layoffs, changing leadership, etc.), crisis communications is about communicating with the media during times of crisis. 

    The third category — earned media — is often the most confusing or misunderstood. Earned media isn’t dependent on specific moments or events, though moment-based PR can generate earned media. Earned media is, simply, the media coverage that you “earn” or garner. It can refer to a publication that compared your product to someone else’s, to a podcast your CEO was invited to speak on or to an influencer who name-dropped your brand in one of their live streams. 

    Earned media is about building brand awareness, credibility and market share through third-party validation. 

    Dig deeper: Breaking through the noise: How brands can connect with today’s consumers

    What type of PR do startups need? 

    The type of PR your startup needs depends on your triggers and goals. When you’re going to market, yes, a press release introducing your brand followed by a PR campaign to make the most of your moment is important. 

    Whether that means a go-to-market moment, a product launch, a funding announcement, or something undoubtedly newsworthy, you should be asking yourself, how can I capitalize on this moment to garner attention? Moment-based PR is fast-moving and all about taking advantage of opportunities to cut through the noise. 

    But, moment-based PR is only effective if you have a “moment” to amplify. You need news to be newsworthy. Unfortunately, much of what businesses see as “news” is quite boring. My company created Snooze or News, a free AI tool that reviews and rates press releases. It provides brutally honest feedback and helping PR professionals identify how to best revise and pitch their news to the media.   

    But even Snooze or News can’t take non-news and turn it into something worth reading — PR professionals cannot create the sizzle if there is no steak to begin with. Shifting PR tactics to earned media is exceedingly more valuable than building a campaign around something unimpressive or uninteresting.

    Dig deeper: Building a brand strategy: Essentials for long-term success

    Gaining market traction with earned media 

    You’ve launched your brand; you’ve taken advantage of newsworthy moments — now what? 

    To stay relevant in the marketplace and begin building traction, you need to grow your market share and position your brand as a leader in the industry. Few things are as powerful as having a respected publication or influencer speak highly of your brand or give you a platform to tell your story. And to get that endorsement and platform, you have to earn it.

    Unlike moment-based PR, earned media does not happen within a designated time frame. On the contrary, your earned media strategy should be ongoing — ideally in tandem with organic and paid social media efforts to amplify each piece of earned media you secure. With earned media, the goal is to build a consistent cadence of earned press, ranging from contributed articles to podcasts, interviews, awards, influencer relationships and beyond. 

    The earned media you secure becomes easily accessible by search, increasing your brand’s reach while lending unmatched credibility. Having these assets time-stamped helps to build a history of your brand, showing that your company is resilient, reliable and successful. 

    Repetition drives revenue in marketing, and this is especially true with earned media. Brands that grow their share of voice through third-party validation see higher rates of conversion and client retention. 

    Dig deeper: Your guide to successful content creator partnerships

    When do crisis communications come into play? 

    While no one wants to think about crisis communications, it’s better to have a plan before the worst happens than to try to make one on the fly.

    Triggers for crisis communications often include layoffs, legal matters, security and data breaches and office closures. PR professionals can help startups manage and navigate crises by taking control of the narrative and shaping it to serve the company’s best interests. Ideally, crisis communications will nip an issue in the bud, shorten the news cycle and get eyes off the crisis as soon as possible. 

    Startups should remember that we can only control the controllable. Embodying crisis communications when necessary allows companies to maintain their market confidence and consumer trust. Of course, these things go a long way and are critical to public perception and overall company growth. In times of crisis, the most important approach is to be highly adaptable.

    Earned media also plays a vital role in crisis communications. When startups have solid, consistent, third-party representations of their brands in the media, it’s easier to remind audiences of who the brand is outside of the crisis to come out on the other side. By nurturing and understanding a brand’s approach to earned media and PR, startups build a strong foundation for long-term successful news coverage.

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    The post Why startups need more than just press releases appeared first on MarTech.

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