Though the lines between marketing and public relations have blurred in recent years, there’s still some hesitation from startup tech marketers to incorporate PR into their marketing communications strategy.
Whether you feel like it’s too early to pursue PR or simply don’t think media outreach is worth the time and investment, earned media activities typically aren’t at the top of a startup marketer’s priorities.
But here’s why it should be: earned media not only accelerates brand awareness and boosts SEO, but it can even drive more leads through the funnel and ultimately impact your bottom line.
Below, we’re sharing more about why startup tech marketers should care about PR.
Accelerated brand awareness
One major concern of startups is being new. As a fairly unknown entrant in an existing industry, brand awareness is key in order to build credibility and claim your stake in the market. While there’s no doubt certain marketing activities are essential for growing brand awareness, nothing spreads the word about your startup faster and farther than getting the media to write about you.
Earned media is essentially a third party vouching for you, and this sort of promotion just isn’t possible through owned channels like email lists and social media content. When a respected news media outlet writes about your startup, people listen and take note — and there’s nothing that creates visibility for your startup in this way through traditional marketing. If you want to accelerate brand awareness for your startup, pursuing media coverage by working with a tech PR firm or even handling PR internally, is key.
PR helps drive TOFU leads
While brand awareness helps inform the buyer’s journey above the funnel, another challenge for startup marketers is getting more leads into the sales funnel so that your marketing can work its magic. But a lesser known fact is that PR helps push leads into and down the funnel as effectively as any marketing content when shared with prospects.
When articles get covered in national and local tech and business news outlets, startups not only experience a massive uplift in brand awareness, but can even receive an uptick in website traffic through Direct or Referral sources. Combined with a well optimized website and an effective content marketing strategy, startups can successfully convert inbound traffic stemming either directly or indirectly from news media coverage.
Speaking of website traffic, one lesser-known way to strengthen your startup’s SEO is through the use of public relations. Think of it this way: a solid PR strategy can win dozens of news placements in respected news outlets with high domain authorities. Translation: your startup’s SEO strategy will benefit immensely from PR.
According to HubSpot, domain authority is based on three things: backlinks, outbound links on your website, and the age of your site. While the time your startup’s website has existed is out of your control, you do have control over the first two factors. The secret behind using PR to boost SEO is in the backlinks.
When your startup lands earned media coverage in reputable tech news media outlets with high domain authority, like Forbes, WSJ or TechCrunch, you not only build brand credibility, but Google itself will even recognize your website as a more trusted source of information. This ability to build out high-value links that Google’s algorithm prioritizes gives PR more organic influence over the SEO outcomes that are considered reliable tactics for many marketers.
A huge component of sales enablement is supplying the social validation that buyers need to feel when they are about to choose between a newcomer and an established competitor. During the research phase of a buyer’s journey, seeing a brand in respected publications can go a long way in earning their trust, even if they don’t initially know that much about the company.
Positive media coverage from respected industry journalists and influencers anoints a startup’s brand with a caché that is hard to duplicate with marketing content. Similar to receiving glowing customer testimonials for your product, getting a reputable media outlet to share their objective third-party opinion about your startup can be enough validation a buyer needs to pull the trigger.
PR is becoming an effective contributor to sales enablement at the BOFU in that media coverage should be shared by the sales team to their highest priority SQLs as an objective validation of your startup’s potential value. Media coverage at this stage in the funnel helps make the case with continued favorable product news, customer success news, industry awards, and much more.
To use PR effectively at this stage, sales teams can use media placements and award announcements as part of their ongoing one-on-one prospect engagement, providing them with an excuse to reach out and keep the buyers in the loop.
Amplify company news
Big news requires big amplification. If your startup is closing a funding round, for example, you’ll need to make sure you have a PR campaign in place to share the news. While you can simply share the announcement through your company blog and across social channels like LinkedIn, landing media coverage will make much bigger waves.
Not only will media coverage solidify your startup as a major player in the industry, but PR extends the reach of your startup’s major announcements, whether you’ve hit a growth milestone or raised funding. With enough reach, your startup will garner attention from key players in the industry including competitors and potential investors.