India is a startup nation with one getting launched every day. The escalation of technology startups and their positive impact on almost every aspect of our lives has made us realize the immense potential they hold. Add to this a well thought PR program and it enables tech startups to not only communicate their vision effortlessly and coherently and build a relationship with the customers, but also become the industry thought leaders with a voice that matters. It turns then from just being ‘attention grabbers’ to ‘influencers’.
But before you get started on an extensive PR campaign you need to get a few things straight.
What is your story? | Pitch
PR is storytelling. It means packaging the information into meaningful and interesting narratives to build stronger emotional bond with the customers. Identify what story you want to tell. What do you want your customers to feel when they read about you? Why is your idea the ‘IT’ thing? Why your product/service is the only one that the customers need? The magnitude of interest that your story will have with the media and the customers depends on it. If you are not ready with your why, you should not be telling the story yet. Right at this moment, every media outlet is being bombarded with pitches promising ‘next great tech startup’. What is it that makes you different ? Give them real and interesting content. Be genuine. The concept of ‘fake it till you make it’ doesn’t work here. Great stories aren’t always derived from complex technology and information. Sometimes the most persuasive ones come from simple things, like customer testimonials, community events, etc.
Research based content/Case studies | Content
Effective PR for technology is not only about securing white paper spaces or contributed bylines in the top media publications. It is more than that. As much as your ‘WHAT’ holds importance (what problem are you solving with your technology), your ‘HOW’ plays a pivotal role too (how are your customers getting benefited with your technology). Illustrating the practical applications of what your technology in a view-able / read-able format offers intrigues the media. Don’t go with ‘If you can’t convince them. Confuse them’ strategy! It doesn’t work. Time and again I have seen Tech startups pile up the jargon and befuddle journalists hoping that they will file a story before they manage to swim out of the mess. It doesn’t work. And if it does once…it won’t the second time. Just like you , journalists also have multiple sources from whom they can verify and check out your story. It is better to let it go than to try and come back from a story that was proved false. You would have lost the trust of the journalist and the publication forever.
Media is more interested in knowing about your product/service from your customers rather than chatting with your executives/spokespersons. Involve your customers in the PR programs. Case studies contextualize your message. Promoting technologies with no reference to real-world applications is challenging. Case studies can improve the effectiveness of the PR programs.
Identify your tribe | Media
It is seen very often that startups want to get a mention on a specific portal/magazine (let’s refrain from taking names) that is very famous, regardless of caring much whether it is going to reach out to the customers and users they are targeting. The trick to getting great returns on your PR investment (new customers, new relationships, leads, etc.) is to know your customers and their haunts. Point is to find your niche (where your loyal and dedicated customers are) and offer them the best. You need to choose the media outlets that are best equipped to tell your story. Interact with your customers and collate information on their media viewing habits. Trust me you will be surprised! Engage with journalists who cover your industry. These chosen outlets may not bring heavy traffic but will definitely bring quality traffic and a much higher conversion rate.
Be patient and think long term | Strategy
PR is a tool for brand building, and building a brand takes work and time. It is not an overnight event. It is a long term strategy, a continuous process that needs consistency. PR is about building perception, shaping opinion and managing reputation. Along with publicity, it gives you credibility. The objective of PR is not only getting noticed but also inspiring your target audience to come and talk to you. It focuses on two-way communication and aims to build a strong and constructive relationship between the company and its customers.
PR is ultimately a human-to-human interaction. It’s all about people and relationships. Humanize your media outreach. Do not play the number game. Focus on making friends not just contacts. A successful PR attitude that will ensure every campaign is a hit is if you believe in cultivating and collecting multiple long term mutually beneficial relationships with customers and media.
Shruti Saraswat | Nucleus PR