PR lessons every start-up should know

If you’re struggling to get media attention for your start-up, thinking about hiring a PR firm, or both, check out our advice below.

We’ve distilled the four main lessons below:

1. Good PR Does Not Substitute for a Good Product

PR exists to build momentum. PR gets your name out there, letting you showcase what you’re doing well and driving awareness of your offering… PR is no substitute for having a great product. Nor is it a guarantee of sales, sign-ups, or funding—if anyone promises you otherwise, be wary!

The lesson: PR alone won’t catapult your company to instant success, but combined with a great product, it can dramatically widen your reach and help you gain momentum faster.

2. You Want the Press That’s Right for You

If you’re a new company trying to get users to sign-up for your services or download your app, the best press you can get is digital press. Think about it: It’s rare that someone is going to read the morning paper, see the name of your company, run to the computer, double-check the story to get the URL right, and go to your site. But if you’re featured in an online tech publication, readers will be able to click straight to your product home page—and that’s much more likely to translate to exactly the type of exposure you want.

The lesson: Know your audience, and know where they get their information. A story in the daily edition of the Wall Street Journal won’t help you much if your target audience gets all their news from Mashable.

3. It’s Better To Be Successful Than Sexy

Don’t try to be cool, try to be successful… More importantly, don’t use PR to try and be something you’re not. ​ If you built a tool that you thought was going to be the great new thing used by every social media enthusiast, but it turns out it’s actually better suited to be a super-functional internal tool for large companies? Awesome. Ditch the “we’re the next Facebook” angle, and shift your focus to getting your name in front of large, corporate audiences.

The lesson: Don’t get too attached to your own ideas about success (social media sensation vs. useful corporate tool, for example). Instead, let your company’s early successes guide you toward finding your niche.

4. Launch is a Crapshoot

It’s impossible to guess how many people will actually read about your product on launch day? Nobody. But that’s the way it is… With so many new companies, and only so many spots to get media coverage, it’s tough out there.

The lesson: If your launch isn’t as successful as you’d hoped, don’t let it get you down. Launch day alone won’t make or break your company. It’s how you create and sustain value after the launch that really matters.

What would you add to these tips?