Don’t spend on PR agency support right away.
As tempting as it can be, enlisting the help of a PR agency to help with securing launch coverage is often out of budget for most startups. Before committing a large chunk of budget to this, it's important to explore whether or not some of the initial heavy lifting can be completed in house.
At a basic level, you will need to draft your initial press release and compile list of media targets who could publish your release. Our advice here is that initially trade press or tech/ startup publications tend to be more interested in covering the news of interesting rounds. Journalists often receive cold emails from founders/ startup team members looking to secure coverage, so this approach wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary. That said, if you feel like you would benefit from a specialist looking over your release, it's easy to find good PR consultants who will be far more cost effective than going to an agency.
If you’re taking on anyone externally to support your launch (whether that's a consultant or an agency), be sure to set KPIs (key project indicators) before any work begins so you both know what’s expected and what a successful outcome will look like.
Do things differently & get creative.
Getting in front of the press and cutting through the noise is hard, particularly in today’s competitive landscape. For this reason, it’s crucial to be original and to consider how you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Some great examples of creative thinking from the land of launch PR past;
- When Betfair launched, founders Andrew Black and Ed Wray kicked off a campaign provocatively called “death of the bookie” and walked through the City’s Square Mile carrying a coffin. A punchy move, very much in line with the brand’s irreverent tone of voice which landed them on the front page of the Sunday Times Business section.
- When notonthehighstreet.com launched, founders Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish sent gifts personalised with the names of journalist’s loved ones to them - immediately demonstrating the USP of their business and forming an immediate emotional connection. Simple and smart!
Do think carefully about pros & cons of a launch event.
A launch event is a fantastic undertaking if you simply want to celebrate your new business with friends and contacts, however it is not always a sure fire way to grab press attention and column inches.
Events are typically expensive, particularly those held in Central London, which is generally the most convenient location for national press. It’s therefore worth thinking about whether an event is the best use of your budget and whether it’s an effective way to deliver your key message.
Press tend to be invited to a lot of events, so you’ll generally have to go above and beyond to create a compelling event which they’ll want to attend. So often businesses spend thousands on creating an upscale launch event which results in little or no coverage.
I would advise that rather than pushing money into a hefty bar tab, you spend time creating a compelling introductory press and social campaign and consider the most effective way to begin communication with press. A killer, personalised introductory press release, social campaigns and ‘teaser’ activity all help to get key journalists excited and intrigued about a new product or service.
Don’t paint yourself into a corner.
As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, this is especially true when thinking about launching a business.
In the run up to your launch, think carefully about what you want to say externally about your brand and the mission you’re on - anything too ‘restrictive’ could make ‘pivoting’ your offering down the line tricky.
It’s worth noting that in the age of the internet, articles and press releases tend to live forever - don’t release any material which you wouldn’t be proud to have your name and face stamped on in years to come.
The launch PR for your business is an exciting prospect and with the right planning and strategic thinking, PR can work hard as a cost effective communications channel which will help you speak to and engage your first audiences.