Swyft has nearly 10 years of experience helping B2B tech companies in a wide variety of verticals with their PR initiatives. We have supported clients from around the world ranging from bootstrapped startups to some of the largest tech enterprises in the world.
That breadth of experience has given us a unique perspective on what kinds of PR campaigns get the best results in terms of media coverage and market buzz in the tech industry.
Our team decided to pool its insights in order to list what we think are the most effective PR campaigns in order to help prioritize your PR strategy for 2020. While not every recommendation below will apply to your startup, most are easily within reach.
Capital raises from investors allow startups to build their technology offering and grow the business. Even companies that are technically NOT startups anymore — ones that are scaling and well on their way to becoming revenue-positive — may take a late stage funding round to give it a final boost toward profitable growth against entrenched competitors.
Each funding round represents a huge potential for media coverage, both at the local and national level. The larger the funding round — these days, it needs to be an 8-figure capital raise — the more potential for news coverage. For instance, a $25 million Series B funding round netted The Guild, an Austin-based short-term accommodation provider, a whopping 15 media pickups on one day (January 5, 2020) in such publications as TechCrunch, WSJ Pro, AustinInno and Axios.
Even if your company doesn’t plan to do an 8-figure capital raise, it can still gain media coverage in both local and industry-related publications. Media placements in trade publications will put your tech business in front of your target audience, while local news coverage in your home market will provide a good boost to your corporate brand awareness and help with future hiring (more on that later).
Tech startups can also capitalize on plans to go public. The news opportunities involved during this phase of growth are more complex as they start falling under the governance of the SEC. For more insight into PR opportunities for pre-IPO tech companies, check out our separate blog post here.
Major client wins
Product launches continue to be a mainstay of B2B tech PR strategy. Startups are no exception. Every industry vertical has its share of trade publications that do their best to track advances in technology. Yours may very well have a half dozen or more publications that produce at least some content about the latest happenings impacting your industry.
New product launches, or even incremental advances if they are substantial enough, will almost certainly yield media coverage in trade publications. One way to capitalize is to ensure that your annual PR plan includes your company’s plans for product launches and refreshes as noted in the product roadmap. If you have multiple product lines, then capture the information for each one. Assuming your PR resources are not limitless, you will have to prioritize how you will share the announcements with the news media.
For instance, some companies announce their most important product innovations at an annual trade show in order to get more buzz and traffic to their booth. It’s a smart strategy and will work splendidly most of the time. BUT, if you are a smaller player in the industry and know that your news won’t compare to the industry titans, then you may consider doing a pre-show announcement to capitalize on the news lull before the trade show kick-off.
C-suite new hire
If your tech startup is well established or has a fairly high profile, C-suite new hires almost always get the interest of a local business journal or the daily newspaper. Some will even devote an entire article about the hire, often in a digital version of the publication. A new C-suiter often comes from another local company, or at the very least represents a major hire and an indication of something deeper happening at the company. Make sure to share more than just a resume — include details about the new role, what the new hire brings to your company and future opportunities for your company. Don’t forget to include a quote from the CEO or another high-level executive.
Word of warning: new hires must be shared when they happen. Don’t expect to get any news coverage if you reveal that the new CFO joined six months ago.
Every tech startup, whether it offers actual physical products, software or cloud-based services, has a news opportunity every time it achieves certain milestones. Media outlets look to milestones to measure a company’s performance against the competition as well as its overall performance. Remember when Facebook’s monthly active users passed one billion users back in 2012? It was the first social media platform to do so and other platforms are measured against that metric to see how they measure up.
In your company’s case, it may be other key metrics that matter more: time on site (or in the app), the volume of transactions in a given amount of time, the dollar value transactions, the number of units sold, the size and types of customers, etc.
The key is to figure out the milestones and metrics that matter to the media outlets you are targeting and make sure that yours are significant enough to warrant attention. In other words, if your key metrics pale in comparison to the competition, then chances are your pitch will fall flat. But, even if your product is weak in a certain category, it may excel in another one that could still be of interest to media outlets.
Tech startup growth stories work well with local media outreach. That’s because most local media want to know what is happening in their backyard, usually in terms of dollars, jobs and real estate. If your startup has plans to move to a new office then let the local media know the details about what’s driving the change. This happens more frequently with startups, especially after they close successive funding rounds and increase hiring to scale their growth.
Growth stories are effective at projecting your company as a strong performer in your market and community. Having a steady stream of these media pickups will provide a boost to your recruiting efforts as you seek to lure top talent from other companies. They also provide more social validation to your brand in the eyes of potential customers who are measuring you against the competition. For instance, while not a startup, Apple’s initial announcement that it planned to build a second campus in the red-hot Austin tech market generated a landslide of media reporting. The stories allowed Apple to telegraph its future need to hire another 5,000 employees over the next couple years. It also cemented its reputation as one of the largest tech employers in Austin, giving hometown favorite Dell a run for its money as a top tech employer.