10 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
The startup life is nothing short of an adventure made up of a series of mini-quests. These tasks become increasingly difficult to complete in bootstrap mode, forcing entrepreneurs to do more with less. The ability to delegate any type of task becomes a luxury and regardless of strong suits and weak spots, everything must be taken on as a DIY project.
The first steps behind most initiatives are easy to take. It doesn't take a lot of effort to set up email addresses, secure domains, and use a simple template to populate a decent website. However, it's safe to say that most entrepreneurs behind tech companies tend to have a product-centric mindset rather than one that revolves around marketing, advertising, and / or public relations. They quickly learn the hard way that having just one great product is not enough. The product / service must be known. But how can bootstrap entrepreneurs launch PR and brand awareness campaigns, especially if they don't have the clout themselves?
PR plans tend to go hand in hand with online marketing strategies as the goal is to have as many eyeballs in front of your eyes while maintaining relevance in order to develop business opportunities in the long run. One cannot realistically rely on virality to take control or that quick profits with lasting effects will be achieved.
The puzzle is made up of many pieces, and it takes time to build brand awareness and credibility to be attractive enough to be featured by journalists. According to Alona Stein, VP and partner of the award-winning global tech PR company ReBlonde, “bootstrapping” means not having an additional budget for branding campaigns, especially at the beginning. When a company makes the decision to bootstrap, they should use other marketing channels that can help them get the word out and fall on the right ears. PR campaigns need to be intelligent, accurate and mostly result-oriented. The effort and expense must grow with the company's income. It is also important to note that the “opening the door” approach to PR differs from the “brand awareness” approach that companies and entrepreneurs typically associate with PR. PR is good for brand building, but it is certainly not the only purpose. Getting the right story from the most relevant journalist can have an incomparably positive impact on the company's roadmap. "
PR is not a one-shot deal. It's an ongoing effort that may seem like a chore at first, but once you get into the groove it can become a matter of course to keep it going.
Here is the best practice for tackling PR initiatives in bootstrap.
Research everything before developing a strategy
Before entrepreneurs even think about PR campaigns, it is best to have a good idea of their target audiences and a feel for their best marketing touchpoints. It falls under basic market research and helps create the conditions for how strategies should be implemented. The next step is to clearly identify the advertising goals and work backwards from there.
For example, if the goal is to attract potential clients or angel investors, more research would need to be done to determine where they spend most of their time. What media are you keeping an eye on? Which blogs do you visit? The answers to these questions serve as the basis for a media wish list that can later be broken down into levels based on popularity or accessibility.
Work to make social media work for you
Once the media wish list is filled, the next step is to follow each of these outlets on major social networks, both personal and branded accounts. Between this and regular engagement, this would increase the chances of getting noticed by writers, editors, bloggers, journalists, and reporters.
With that in mind, it's important to ensure that valuable interactions are only conducted with the most relevant media members. According to an article by global speaker and tech journalist Hillel Fuld, “You need to make sure you know what to expect. Who is the relevant journalist? Did they write about your space? Your competitors? Do you love her? Hate her Are you active on Twitter? "After all, it would be counterproductive (and downright embarrassing) to recruit the wrong people who are sure to give a tough pass.
As with any other relationship, social media relationships take time to build and a lot of effort to maintain. When interacting with goals, it's important not to be selfish. Instead, it would make far more sense to share / praise their content, share helpful information, and answer their questions. Of course, media representatives respond best to people who are familiar with their content.
Charm journalists with taste
To add to the previous section, it is important to be tactful when trying to target journalists and plan a few steps ahead as if you were playing a game of chess. People respond best when there are common interests.
To get a few steps ahead of the conversation game, one can set up Google Alerts on relevant industry terms to get a better understanding of who is focused on what types of topics at any given time and try to find a way to find out who is including own brand in this story.
For example, if the ABC123 convention is the hot topic of the month a journalist wrote about, an entrepreneur can use this as an opportunity to record a short video about predictions or to contribute to the convention and quote the journalist on it. Once the material is online, the journalist can search for their findings on social media. This could be a great way to get started on LinkedIn and officially introduce yourself.
Bootstrap startup life requires wearing many hats, and one of those hats is the editor. It must always be worn to take advantage of opportunities so that anything and everything can become a PR opportunity.
Master network offline
Entrepreneurs need to recognize the importance of networking at events from the earliest stages. After all, founding members are the face of the product and the ultimate representative of the company. When you start making friends with other founders, influencers, or even just general enthusiasts in the room, there is a list of connections that you can refer to later when it comes to important intros, testimonials, promotional support, or even collaboration.
According to Yoav Vilner, CEO of sales automation startup Walnut, offline networking is invaluable. “As a repeat founder, I am familiar with the problems and difficulties involved in bootstrapping. I can always more or less identify with that, ”says Vilner. “Networking in events is really everything. People who might otherwise have been dissatisfied online step openly into these events and make themselves more receptive. Many of the relationships that arise at industry events quickly become true friendships in which both parties help each other. I know that time is not on the side of bootstrap entrepreneurs, but they need to network as much as possible, both online and offline. "
If possible, it would also be a good idea to invite world-class connections to a lunch meeting to familiarize them with the product / service and its mission.
Use Newswire (free) services
I have mixed feelings about including this point, but I'll include it anyway.
Newswire services can be a hit or miss, but when a hit is, the best are paid ones, like Cision, PR Newswire, Business Wire, Newswire, Marketwired, and PRWeb. However, if it is impossible to spend hundreds of dollars on PR sales, then consider the free services.
Some popular free services are PR.com, NewswireToday.com, and PRlog.org. You can't expect a wealth of coverage to come out of it, but it's still better to be on this than on any Newswire service at all. If anything, having multiple messages from the same company via Newswire services serves as a legitimizer and can (to some extent) also help with search engine optimization.
Remember, free newswire services each have their own catch. They would ask for payment for things like adding an extra hyperlink, adding an image, getting prominent placement in their directories, and of course, premium sales services. Free offers are bare bones at best, but at least they are something.
Take the first steps to become a thought leader
What all entrepreneurs have in common is an overwhelming sense of passion that inspired them to take this crazy leap of faith in the volatile business world. This passion goes hand in hand with expertise and strong opinions. You might as well turn these insights and opinions into references by becoming a published expert in the field.
In addition to publishing content (with consistency) in the form of a blog / vlog / podcast / etc., it is recommended to contact industry publications / blogs and inquire about guest posts or interview opportunities. This would be one of the ultimate punch builders and would inherently help put the Bootstrap company and its website on the map. If you later push for a wider range of respected publications, the risk of potential VCs of interest will increase significantly.
Apply / tick original content for visibility
Entrepreneurs should use their own networks and social media communities to exchange exciting updates from the company. These updates include press releases, media mentions and of course editorials. Cross-promotion would also be a good idea. For example, a new product explanation video can be uploaded to YouTube, uploaded to IGTV, featured on Facebook and LinkedIn and even embedded in a post on Medium. The more exposure the better.
According to an article by Jennifer Spencer, CEO of Energent Media, “A strong corporate brand is critical to your success. Technology and online search engines are making it easier than ever for customers to research companies before buying. They become more demanding in their decisions and choose companies that are seen as trustworthy and authentic. "
One size does not fit all business areas, especially not for PR campaigns. There are many variables to consider that vary depending on the culture of the industry itself. Ultimately, consistency is key, and the best PR messages are those that focus on the concept and potential impact of the product / service in such a way that the business owner can deliver appropriately and live up to the hype.