A startup should NOT hire a publicist.
To quote Mark Cuban “Never hire a PR firm. A public relations firm will call or email people in the publications you already read, on the shows you already watch and at the websites you already surf.
Those people publish their emails. Whenever you consume any information related to your field, get the email of the person publishing it and send them a message introducing yourself and the company. Their job is to find new stuff. They will welcome hearing from the founder instead of some PR flack. Once you establish communication with that person, make yourself available to answer their questions about the industry and be a source for them. If you are smart, they will use you.”
Cash should be conserved at a startup and a $50,000 retainer to a PR firm that doesn´t know your business just doesn’t make sense.
You don’t need a rolodex of contacts to do your own PR now. The world has changed. Blogs have proliferated and the internet is open. Below I list some effective tools to execute your own Public Relations.
Find your sources
How do you figure out who´s who in your industry? What are the writer´s writing about and how can you reach out to them? This is what PR firms used to be good at. Even now a database with this information is usually worth upwards of $3,000.
Unfortunately for the PR industry, the internet is open. By using backlink trackers you can see where your competitors have been featured, who writes about your industry and where you can find those writers. For instance, I use SEOMoz´s backlink locator. It’s simple just enter your competitors site address and you can take a look at any incoming links going to their site.
Any media links will appear in the report and now you have a personally curated list of media in your field.
This is monotonous work. But using the same list of backlinks from competitors you can simply pay a few hundred dollars to someone on elance or odesk to begin building a reporter database for you. You´re cost basis is 10% of the price of purchasing the list from someone else.
Track your data
TOUTAPP! This is the greatest PR tool recently launched. You can track your emails, see which ones have been read and which templates CONVERT! It removes the guess work and allows you to focus on results.
If you send a note to a reporter, you´ll be able to tell if they read the message. If they have maybe a follow up may be in order. If they haven´t hold on a few more days before you message again.
Look for Reporter Inquiries
Sorry, I had to plug Fursos here.
By using the spanish language tool, Fursos, you can see what reporters are looking for. If you see a request that you´d be able to speak on, send a short message. This way instead of inundating reporters with Press Releases, you´re sending curated content that they´re specifically requesting.
Know who´s covering your industry. Set up google alerts to notify you when a reporter publishes a new story. Send them a note congratulating them on a newsworthy article.
If you notice an industry trend, send a quick comment to your media list. This effort isn´t about featuring yourself, so don´t push it if the trends don´t fit your company. However, in the future it´ll be much easier to get an article from the storyteller.
Public Relations is cheap. Don´t break the bank.
Build your story, know your story and go forth and publicize!
Featured image by Images of Money