Does PR help with VC fundraising? It’s the proverbial chicken or the egg conundrum.
The short answer is – it’s complicated.
Fear not, however, as there are ways early-stage startups can pick up valuable media before and during your VC capital raise.
Start small, right in your backyard
Just because you’re a startup and would love to score a massive PR win in the form of a TechCrunch article, the odds of that happening are slim to none.
Enter: local news media in your local community. Don’t overlook the influence and reach of local news coverage. The beauty of PR is that you don’t have to be Amazon or Apple to score news coverage in your community. You simply have to find the best possible message that resonates with local news outlets’ audiences.
Getting covered in the local daily newspaper, community news sites, and even the occasional TV news report involves aligning your startup’s core offerings with any hot trends or seasonal story hooks impacting your community.
Go niche or go home
Who says you have to be worthy of the Wall Street Journal to get national news coverage? By going niche – and by niche, we mean industry vertical media covering an industry you are explicitly targeting – you have a much better chance of getting in the national news.
Vertical news media often search for new trends and technologies that promise to transform their industry. If you’re an early-stage startup with a few solid use cases, then you stand an excellent chance of getting the attention of an editor of a tech news vertical.
The key is to reach out with solid angles for pitches. For example, opportune pitches would come before a new release of your software offering or an announcement about a partnership with an influential industry player or major client win.
For one of our clients, Swyft net over five solid pieces of news coverage from niche trade publications by contending that a product announcement would help pave the way for accelerated adoption of the metaverse.
When you’re an early-stage startup, pull out all the stops, see what sticks, then go full throttle!
Contributed articles are your expertise on display
Another way to win valuable media coverage is by offering to pen articles for industry media outlets personally.
This thought leadership strategy is a valuable way to build relationships with editors of influential trade publications, many of which are starved for content. Why? Because they don’t have enough time and resources to create all the content themselves.
By leaning on industry experts to create valuable content, trade publication websites are continuously fresh with new content that will drive clicks and, ultimately, help sell ads.
The key here is to study the industry landscape, see what trends and seasonal topics there are, then conduct several brainstorming sessions to develop some top article topics you can run by editors of industry pubs.
The return of trade shows
Don’t overlook trade shows as an opportunity to win news coverage for your early-stage startup. If you plan to have a booth at an influential trade show, prepare your product marketing and media outreach months in advance.
Trade shows are great opportunities to launch new products or major upgrades. Your communications strategy should encompass the principal talking points of the new product or upgrade, offer some customer testimonials, plenty of visual collateral, and a chance to speak to executive team members during the show.
Your PR professional, or outsourced PR team, would be wise to research past news coverage at the trade show to see what topics were most frequently covered and who produced them. That, combined with monitoring the social media activity of industry media, should give you a head start on who to target during your pitching campaign.
If you plan to have a booth, don’t forget to ask the trade show organizers if they have a media list of news professionals who have committed to attending. Not every show offers this, but it’s definitely worth an inquiry.