As we are nearing the New Year, it’s time to assess your business goal setting and strategic planning, especially your marketing and PR plans. Startups often shy away PR stating that such activities need a lot of money. But it’s quite the opposite; if you have restricted funds (which is almost always the case with startups), PR is just the right option for you. Even better, a well-planned PR is not only economical but is also far more effective than traditional advertising. According to a 2014 Nielsen report, “PR is 90 percent more effective than advertising.”
When it comes to planning your PR activities for the coming year, start with setting clear objectives along with a well-defined plan in order to achieve optimum results. Make sure you are considering the full year ahead. The best practice is to plan your PR activities for the first six months and do revise the planning in three months’ time. This will help you to remain flexible and respond better to changes. Also, planning ahead and revising it at regular intervals will help you revise the budget, ensuring that you are not wasting money on something unworthy.
In this post we will discuss 5 tips to help you create cost-effective, low-budget PR campaigns for your startup.
Create a News Release Calendar
The first tip for an effective PR campaign for your startup business is to plan out the news releases for the year in advance. You can make a very basic list of the news you intend to release throughout the year and revise the calendar from time to time. This news release calendar will act as your initial structure, something you can adhere to all-through the year to stay focused on your PR goals.
However, be flexible enough to change the calendar as startups are usually susceptible to changes that arises from unprecedented or sudden situations. You can use a project management tool to create the news calendar and share it with your team. But most of the tools would require a premium package if you want to collaborate with a larger group. So if you are in a budget constraint, there are several free options to consider as well. For example, those working with WordPress can use editorial calendar plugins like CoSchedule to get started. In addition, you can also use Google Docs and many other free editorial calendars to create and share your news release calendar.
Boost Your Media Outreach
You also need to plan out your strategy for media reach well in advance. The foundation for any effective PR campaign is having a solid media reach. Even before you start with your PR activities, start creating a database of the premium publications related to your particular industry. After you are done with the list, devote some time for media outreach. Contact these publication houses individually and introduce yourself asking for a media coverage for your company. This is not even very challenging to achieve as more and more publication houses are willing to give exposure to new, dynamic startups, especially those with innovative solutions and services.
Also, follow the editorial calendars of these publication houses carefully and plan your media exposure accordingly. Follow them to identify opportunities when and where you can contribute articles or perhaps ask for a feature in your company. One interesting factor about these publication houses is that they usually have submission deadlines months before their actual publication dates. You should therefore be very careful about the closing dates, so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Leverage low-cost social media tools. We are not talking only about Facebook and Twitter. There are several press release sites to publish your news such as Free Press Release, PRLog.com, and PRWeb.com etc. In addition, always answer media inquiries from reporters and you are more likely to find a space on their editorial calendars.
Launch Project-Based PR Campaigns
If you are awaiting a major product launch, try to do that in conjunction with some major event where you are participating, especially a trade event. It will provide you with maximum opportunity to reach out to your target audience and tell them about your new product. Start your PR activities a few months before the event. Create and distribute press release, sales pitch, promotional content and social media outlets within 4 months before the event. And during the show, set up personal briefings with media people and analysts for better coverage.
You are already investing in the trade show; so there is hardly any point to spend more money on a product launch. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to get maximum media exposure and coverage for your new product.
Don’t Spend a Fortune on Your Global Campaign
We all want the maximum possible exposure for on brands and reaching out to the global audience effectively is a dream of businesses catering to global customers. But a PR campaign of such magnitude can burn a hole in your pocket. Right?
Not necessarily. What most businesses do is that they hire a large PR agency or a few smaller agencies to launch and manage their campaign. While this is often a good strategy to initial global PR campaigns, it is no doubt an expensive one. A better option is to opt for boutique firms offering one-stop solution for all your PR needs, ranging from global to local. Moreover, they will cost you just a fraction of what you would have to pay to hire a large agency with global offices.
Use Your Content More Than Once
Creating quality content takes a lot of time and effort, which is again equivalent to money. Therefore, try to leverage your content in as many ways as possible. Today, the message delivery options are no more limited to blogs, articles or press releases. Thanks to social media, it is now possible to deliver the same message in multiple ways, which in turn, also expands your audience reach. How? Consider this:
A CrowdFactory and PR Newswire analysis found that “each press release share generates 2 new views; expands total audience by 70 percent.” Twitter is the best channel to share your press releases as it drives more number of press release views compared to Facebook. The secret is to tweet the most interesting part of your press release along with a link to the release. You can do the same thing with your articles.
That said, do not limit this strategy to Twitter alone. Use the same formula for Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels. You can also use interesting information from the post to comment on relevant blogs to post a response or to post an answer on LinkedIn or any other forum. The goal is to distribute your content in multiple ways using social media. So just get creative.
Contrary to what many believe, PR is not an expensive affair, provided you know how to do it properly. And it all begins with planning your PR strategy in advance, so that you can explore the existing ideas and opportunities as well as generate some new to improve your market reach. That said, PR plans are subject to change, and therefore must be flexible enough to adjust according to the rising situation. All you need to do is focus on your overall goals and keep exploring.