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June 02, 2015

Anna Ruth Williams

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Partner

This article originally appeared in PR Daily.

The growth and success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Louisiana has never been more evident. Recent events like Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest tour stop in New Orleans, the killer line-up of nationally known speakers and innovative startups in attendance at NOEW 2015, the 2015 Louisiana Startup Prize event in North Louisiana and the burgeoning Angel Networks and Funds popping up statewide are examples of how Louisiana has become a player in the national startup game.

The Silicon Bayou isn’t the only place outside of Silicon Valley booming with new startups, though. More than half a million startups are born every year across the country.  Each of these startups is clamoring for press coverage of its groundbreaking technology, product or service…and for good reason. Media coverage can put your company on the radar of investors, attract top talent, boost employee morale and drive inbound leads. However, breaking through the clutter to land a headline is no small feat. More than 1,700 press releases are distributed each day over the wire, along with tens of thousands of pitches, making it imperative that you approach your public launch strategically.

Below I’ve broken down each phase of the #MakeNews process, from before the big announcement all the way through landing your dream headline.

PRE-LAUNCH

First, you need to do a little research. If you have not yet done a full audit of your competitors, now is the time. In PR school, they teach us that an announcement must be new, timely, local, have a human-interest element, depict conflict or controversy and/or be odd and unusual in order to obtain earned media coverage. What story are you telling besides announcing the launch of your product? How are you disrupting or innovating the market?  Simply put – craft a compelling story angle that will hook reporters and give them enough meat to write a full feature.

In order to fully develop a winning strategy, there are a few more things you’ll want to consider. It can take time to build relationships and tell your brand’s story. Before your launch, research publications you want to target and begin building relationships with journalists, influencers, bloggers etc. You’ll also need a press release (or a media alert), a media pitch and social media content to get the word out to media through several different touchpoints. Finally, you may have all the media deliverables and social media content you need, but if you pull the trigger at the wrong time, your story might get lost in the clutter. Make sure to check the news cycle to ensure it’s a good time for your product to enter the market and #makenews. Will an announcement from a big company like Google or Apple hinder you from reaching the press? Or will an upcoming holiday, tradeshow or event actually help you optimize your announcement and gain bigger buzz?  The more homework you do ahead of time, the better results you’ll see.

TAKEOFF

So, you are ready to shout your business/product out to the world! Here are the top three strategic media relations tactics you need in the midst of your PR frenzy!

  1. Keep SEO Top of Mind – Make sure your press release is fully optimized and distribute it to your media list as well as via a wire service, for broad online distribution and pick up by news aggregators. The release should include keywords, quotes from founders, investors, prominent influencers, data points, photos and videos {hint: including a mix of multimedia in your release increases your audience by 552%!}. Ultimately, a strong release provides journalists with all the information they need to easily draft a story on your launch. The more work they have to do, the more likely your story will get passed over for something else.

  2. Quality is Better than Quantity –You could send your release to a thousand reporters, but if they don’t cover your industry or write for your target audience your release is going to either not be opened or deleted. Instead of blasting to every publication ever created, use a custom media list that includes email addresses for all your target magazines, TV stations, blogs, newsletters and more to ensure you are reaching out to the right reporters and outlets.

  3. Use Your Resources – Whether it’s prominent influencers (celebrities, bloggers, industry thought leaders) or employees, brand ambassadors, family and friends, use your resources to help spread the word. Have them write guest blog posts and engage on social media with their friends as well as potential consumers/customers. If you have the opportunity, host an event and invite media to come or have your company attend an event where you know media will be present. Don’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you, find ways to create your own.

MISSION INCOMPLETE

You’ve done it! You’ve launched! You are in the market, but now you need to make sure you stay there. Chances are you haven’t heard back from the majority of the reporters you’ve reached out to. Don’t worry! Maybe the reporter missed your first email or meant to reach out and forgot. A simple follow up can bring your story back into their attention. Another way to get in from of them? If you have landed even just one media placement, be sure to share it loud and proud on your social media outlets and website (Did You Know: Journalists form the largest, most active verified, professional group on Twitter?)Anyone who works in PR or has had press success will tell you that PR leads to more PR. Simply put, you can improve your chances of making multiple touchpoints by leveraging all available channels.

Okay, by now you are probably thinking that scoring coverage is a lot harder than it looks, and you’re right! But in the end, a successful media campaign boils down to being strategic, creative and persistent in your strategy and, ultimately, telling a story that’s worth sharing.