Congratulations, you’re a tech startup about to receive your Series A round! Now what to do about gaining media attention? It’s well known that a Series A may generate a bit of media buzz from industry reports, blogs and business press but there are huge gains that can be made if you allocate additional resources towards PR to make the most of your announcement. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and get the most bang for your buck in terms of media attention upon launching, then follow these six tech PR tips.
Tech PR Tip 1: Decide how much you want to spend.
The choices available to firms when it comes to PR can often be overwhelming and not worth the work. It may be easier to choose a large agency in Silicon Valley or NYC, but be aware that you will be spending around $10,000 / month for quantity over quality, perception over substance. Sure, they may promise a highly experienced PR professional will work your account but there’s a reasonable chance that you will have a pretty “green” staffer doing most of the work. There are many options you should consider before signing on a major PR agency ranging from independent contractors to boutique PR firms staffed by highly experienced PR pros. Some smaller, local PR firms may charge a reasonable amount for services and are often well connected with the media you need to get in front of. Some independent PR consultants work on-demand at a fairly affordable hourly rate. There are even some PR firms who offer pay-for-performance pricing that blends lower up-front retainers with bonuses tied to actual media results. Whichever way you go, you should keep your options open and not assume that the highest priced agency equates to the best service and, more importantly, the best media results for your startup.
Tech PR Tip 2: Start early.
If you are announcing your Series A while your Series B is about to start, then you’re too late. Our advice is to get ready to plan your Series A announcement two months in advance in order to get the maximum buzz from tech blogs, industry publications and even local media outlets. Be sure to pick one influential tech blog like TechCrunch, VentureBeat or Gigaom and promise it the “exclusive” right to be the first to announce your Series A before all the others jump on the news. It will endear you to the blogger and make him or her look good in the eyes of the blog’s editors. Bottom-line, there are a lot of moving parts to a PR campaign so starting early will give your PR firm a better shot at maximizing the media impact of your launch.
Tech PR Tip 3. Pick an appropriate message design.
There are two main approaches when it comes to deciding on how to position your startup and Series A investment in the media. The first is focusing on the transaction itself. With this approach, you will provide information on the financial aspects of the investment including the amount raised and investor names. You should stick to facts about the investment but also make sure to include back-story on the creation of the technology including how it was inspired and what you plan to do with the money. Also make sure to include a link back to the company website.
The second approach is focusing on the technology. This message could include detailed points about the app or technology itself, the problem it solves, the targeted demographic, the number of downloads there have been (if it’s an app), whether any patents are involved, plus any interesting back-story on the founders (past startups or employers). Again, make sure to include a link to your website and/or a link for an app download.
Tech PR Tip 4: Create a lean and mean media list.
This point focuses on who you want to reach out to as you search for the right kinds of publicity. Does your technology reach a multitude of cities and demographics worldwide? Is it a service-based technology only available in few select cities like a grocery-delivery startup? These questions are important to ask when choosing the media publications you pitch to. No need to purchase an expensive media list. That’s like trying to kill a fly with an elephant gun. A little up-front research will reveal which blogs (and bloggers) and publications are covering your industry the most. Instead of blasting out your announcement to 100s of journalists, it’s far better to have between 10 to 25 solid leads and spend more time selling your story to them.
Tech PR Tip 5: More key words are NOT always better.
When it comes to press releases, companies are tempted to beef them up with key words in order to maximize search engine optimization (SEO). With recent changes made to Google’s search engine algorithm, this approach could actually harm you. Google has gotten keen to SEO practitioners who stuff press releases with key words to goose search rankings. Google will now penalize you if it feels your content is full of key words and embedded links rather than meaningful content. Our suggestion is to have no more than 2 -3% of a press release’s total word count dedicated to 1-2 key or “buzz” words. At the end of the day, getting highly reputable media outlets to “talk” about you and provide back-links is far more impactful on your search rankings and brand visibility than cheap SEO parlor tricks.
Tech PR Tip 6: Distribute smart.
Using the wire can be a very useful way to get your release into the hands of thought leaders and major trade publications. Our suggestion is to strongly consider using the wire if there is over $1 million in your Series A. Distributing your press release on PRWeb is good for SEO purposes but it’s not an actual wire service. A wire service like Business Wire or PR Newswire will let you target tech pubs, industry blogs and trade magazines. The cost of a wire distribution is not cheap and generally starts at $600 if you’re hoping to do a tech-focused release. Since you are announcing your Series A round of funding, there will probably be more interest in the wire than a standard product launch or upgrade.
There are undoubtedly more tech PR tips out there; heck, we’re even remembering a couple right now like be persistent (but not pesky!) when pitching a national tech blogger in advance of your Series A announcement and making sure to bend over backwards when lining up interviews with startup founders and major investors.
What other PR tips would you give tech startups? Let us know in the comments section below or by tweeting PR over Coffee at @PRoverCoffee.
About Theresa Grillo: Theresa Grillo is a PR associate with Dave Manzer PR and Marketing, which was founded as a PR firm in Austin for tech startups in 2009 and as one of the only PR firms in the country providing performance-based PR pricing options. Theresa specializes in helping startups and emerging growth technology and consumer companies with their communication and media outreach needs. For more information about Theresa or PR over Coffee, email us at info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.