By Melissa A. Vitale
*While this post is a guide to whether a public relations campaign is right for you, only a consultation with a PR professional can definitively determine whether your start-up or established brand is ready for a PR campaign.
To learn more about rates and to schedule a consultation, visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/consulting.html
Every company wants to spread the word and increase name recognition throughout their brand journey. After inevitable minor setbacks, it can seem like a miracle when a new brand takes off. Immediately, entrepreneurs look for the best way to maximize exposure, which typically means hiring a public relations professional to help navigate the media industry, a multifaceted, multiplatform world nowadays.
Unless your young company has been acquired by a corporate conglomerate or your mentor is Elon Musk, publicizing new brands, embedding your product’s name in the public consciousness through mass exposure, requires time, patience and a good storyline.
The traditional benefit of public relations is placing mentions, articles, quotes, and commentary in digital, print, and broadcast media outlets.
Working with a PR professional gives the client a knight in the battle to procure media coverage — the channels to maneuver, the hoops to jump through, the ladders to climb. A good PR professional knows how to overcome all those impediments. Aside from choosing the best storylines and topics for a brand to reach its target audience, the best public relations operation can transform a quick email into interviews with reporters from influential outlets like Forbes, Fast Company, Inc.com, and Entrepreneur.
Almost every company believes it is doing something different, but success requires more than having a new product to sell and a unique story to tell. So how does a start-up know when it is ready for a public relations campaign? Check out this checklist from Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations.
Is your brand newsworthy?
“Start-up has customers” doesn’t make an exciting headline. Standing out in the herd of new companies competing for customers and the attentions of journalists requires having something exciting to share: the launch of a product out of beta, the closing of a funding round, or the collaboration with an industry heavyweight. Sometimes the mundane makes news: a series of successful backtest reports or case studies that demonstrate competitive advantage. If your brand is doing something thrilling in its industry, the media are more likely to step up to the plate …. with a publicist’s pitch.
Is there are a compelling story to tell?
Even if a brand isn’t launching a new product or closing a funding round, a start-up with a compelling story or mission can attract media attention. Some seemingly routine topics are actually newsworthy:
A skilled publicist will isolate and amplify key areas of a brand’s story that will appeal most to the media.
Are you doing something exciting in the industry?
Just being an entrepreneur isn’t enough to garner news coverage anymore. Forbes recognizes more than 900 entrepreneurs every year on its “30 Under 30” lists. My cat, Jack, who has his own line, Glam Hats for Cats, is an entrepreneur. Start-up founders are often guilty of wearing blinders. In their quest not to let the competition rattle them, they often overlook some of the more noteworthy achievements of another brand or similar concept. Unfortunately, only so many stories can be published in a day or a month, so securing feature press becomes extra difficult if a start-up twice the size of yours launches or offers what you are offering. But so long as your brand is disruptive in its industry, your company will stick out.
Does your startup have solidified branding and a concrete direction?
If your brand is all over the place, offering a variety of services or products with no specific niche or staple item, it may be premature to start a PR campaign. Journalists can size up a story possibility in
90 seconds or less, so you had better be able to hook them fast with vital info, including who you are, what you do, and your competitive advantage. Along with solidified direction and messaging, your branding should be ready for mass audiences before engaging a PR professional. Your publicist probably isn’t tech-savvy beyond Photoshop (if that!), so it is essential to already have a website and whatever branded materials that are up to industry standards.
Are you committed to getting your messaging out there?
Hiring a publicist doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to promote your product and name. Especially in the early stages of promoting a new brand, a publicist will often have time-sensitive questions for the client. Since most start-ups don’t have a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or VP of Communications to answer questions or do interviews, CEOs and founders will need to dedicate time and energy not just to answering questions, but also preparing for interviews, traveling to broadcast studios , or meeting for cocktails with journalists, when requested.
If you don't have the time to answer your publicist or speak with journalists, and there is no one else at the company with similar authority, starting a PR engagement may be a waste of resources.
Can you afford to wait for quality results?
In the same arena, often times, public relations campaigns can take up to a month from sending the first month’s retainer to seeing a feature article. At a publishing house, there can be writers, freelancers, editors, managing editors, editorial directors and site directors that have to edit and go through content before it gets published. This can make the process from interview to publication take up to two months.
If you don’t have time to wait for articles to curate, there may be better communications solutions than a traditional press strategy.
Do you want PR for the right reasons?
In my experience, clients seek public relations for everything from getting a verified blue check on Twitter or Instagram to increasing sales to attracting investors and, most commonly, raising brand awareness. Let me be clear: public relations can help a client achieve one of those goals — brand awareness, which, could trigger more sales and investor interest, but PR is never evaluated by sales. Public relations is measured in Ad Value – how much organic press did a brand receive thanks to the publicist? Asking a publicist to deliver sales, investors, or improved social media presence could divert focus from the campaign and produce dissatisfaction with the publicist.
Do you have the budget for public relations?
While every brand can use a little PR, not every start-up is financially ready. A successful PR campaign can cost a couple of thousand a month, for at least three months. If you’re hoping to attract enough new business from the first month of the campaign to pay for the second, ask yourself: When was the last time you read an article and instantly bought the featured product?
Before hiring a publicist, make sure you have the budget necessary to pay the PR professional and sustain the campaign and your business until sales soar. An article on a top-tier outlet like Forbes can define a brand, but it doesn’t happen overnight nor does it yield six-figure sales. The last thing you want to do is stiff a person who made a profession of being a source for journalists who cover the ins and outs of companies and startups.
If you can answer yes to five or more of these questions, then you are ready for public relations; so get in touch with us today.
To learn more about rates and to schedule an introductory consultation with Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations, visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/consulting.html
Relying on a proprietary strategy, storytelling, and strong relationships across the media industry, Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations has delivered full-feature results for clients.
(For examples of work: https://www.melissaavitale.com/in-the-news.html and case studies: https://www.melissaavitale.com/case-studies.html)