Early stage startup founders waste a lot of money on PR before proving their concept

- October 30, 2017 3 MIN READ

Over the last six years I have seen a lot of startup founders make the mistake of engaging with media before they are ready to. Further to that, there are some that spend a great deal of money on engaging a PR firm to chase media engagement for them, and while this may result in coverage and getting your story out there, the traction or the influx of enquiries one hopes to get by seeing their company name in headlines often falls short of expectations set by a founder’s inaccurate perception that media coverage equals business growth.

We know that startups operate in an unpredictable manner – especially in the beginning where the initial idea regularly pivots, initial target markets prove to be different to what you hypothesised, and you sometimes discover that the business has no commercial viability and needs to be shut down. It’s harder to do all that when your approach has been to be super-public about everything before things are humming along at least quasi-smoothly.

Before I continue, let me be very clear – I think that PR firms play a very important role once companies begin to enter the scale up phase of their business, which for startups happens quite quickly.

Once you have proven product-market fit and have all of your proverbial ducks in a row, a robust media strategy around branding and perception in your chosen industry works wonders. Look at the way that brands like Kogan, Freelancer, Showpo, and HiSmile have used internal and external PR professionals to grow an audience, be the spokespeople of choice in their industries, and then leveraged the perception that has created for them in order to execute targeted marketing campaigns that have resulted in record financial growth.

At the very beginning however, I think that money is better spent on strategies that financially grow your startup, and as the founder you should initially be building direct relationships with key people in the media yourself – it is much better down the track to have a personal relationship with journalists and producers. Like most industries, personal connections are used heavily to drive the storytelling in the Australian media landscape.

It may seem daunting, but building a strong relationship with the media – particularly trade and industry media – is actually easier than one may think, and it is a skill that I believe all startup founders and marketers in green field operations should have in their arsenal. That is why I have partnered with Zambesian Australian startup and marketplace for intimate face-to-face workshops.

On Saturday November 23 I will be running Killer PR without an agency: Get media coverage that sells, an intimate workshop limited to 12 participants at the Startup Daily offices at Barangaroo.

Participants in the workshop will spend the day developing key skills around securing media coverage and building healthy strategic relationships with the media, including:

  • Developing the ability to differentiate a newsworthy story that would be of the public interest and a story that is only interesting to yourself or a limited group of people
  • Learning to create a newsworthy press release to get the attention of journalists and producers covering your industry
  • Creating a content strategy for your company that can be leveraged for further coverage in the mainstream press
  • Developing a content planner for your company that can be leveraged for media and sales
  • Learning to navigate the noisy world of Australian press, television, radio, and online channels and connect with the right key individuals for future coverage
  • Learning how to speak and present confidently and stay on message when talking on radio or television

The workshop will be quite hands on, with participants working on actual media strategies for their company that can be set into motion on the Monday following the workshop.

I am also giving readers of Startup Daily readers a further discount off the early bird pricing until Wednesday at 5PM, meaning that you will only pay $350. After clicking ‘register’ this discount will automatically apply for you on the system.

Places are limited. To register now for this workshop go to: zambesi.com/courses/10


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