How to Self-market your Innovation in House 

PR can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re a startup owner who’s completely new to the industry and who isn’t a marketeer by profession. The good news? With the right guidance, startups have a great chance of being highlighted in the media – especially if they offer a unique and unprecedented solution that solves a problem. In the past couple of years, I’ve worked with some of the coolest startups – some easy, and some not so easy to publicize. Safe to say, I’ve learned a lot. I’ll list out below some of my key tips to PR your start-up without the use of an agency: 

1 – Start with a strategy to uncover what your PR needs are

What are you hoping to achieve through your PR activities? Are you looking to build brand equity, gain awareness or else? Your activities will need to depend on what you’re looking to accomplish. To build brand equity and trust, you will definitely need to collaborate with key publishers to get your name out there. For reach, a mass influencer campaign may serve you best. It’s important you set a solid strategy in place and balance your activities out accordingly. 

2 – Have your press kit in order:

Once you establish your objectives, it’s time you get your press kit in order. Your spokespeople biographies, FAQ sheets and press releases need to be written out properly and organized in folders, so they can be easily accessed by whoever you’re pitching to. This is especially important if you’re looking to secure some media opportunities.

One thing every founder or in house marketing pro must understand is that editors are running on deadlines and time is always of the essence. By doing your part in ensuring you have the right collateral in place and they’re easy to navigate, you make the lives of the editors you’re pitching to easier, and you help them help you. 

3 – Tell a different story 

You’re a startup, that is your superpower! Especially if your business is an unprecedented solution that solves a problem, chances are that media will want to cover your business and story (Chapter 2, is to know how to sell it). Remember:  Publishers are looking to write about something that is unique – as that is what will grab the attention of their viewers. With that being said, always ensure that your key USP and duck factor come across in your collateral, allowing you to pitch yourself in the best positive light that differentiates you from other players in the market. 

4 – Practice targeted pitching:

Going the extra mile is attractive, no matter the context – but especially in PR! You can increase the chances of getting featured if you do your homework, and by homework, I mean research. Get a feel of the stories that the editor you’re pitching to usually covers and what their passion points are, and pitch relevant stories accordingly. 

5 – Adopt a collaborative mindset

You want your coverage, but you can’t really demand it – because you’re not exactly paying for it. Instead, you can adopt a collaborative mindset. Before pitching to an editor, always think: How does this angle benefit the publication? Chances are you’re not paying for space as a startup owner, so you’ll need to be either giving the publication some valuable information that is hard to access elsewhere, or contributing with information that only you, as an expert can source. By adopting a collaborative mindset, you start to understand what approach you should adopt while pitching – and what you can and can’t realistically expect. 

PR is tricky. It’s time consuming, contacts driven and demands some impeccable research and copywriting skills. In fact, startup owners may even decide to allocate a PR budget and outsource to an agency so they can focus on running their business. The complexity of the product and services required is a key factor in deciding whether to DIY, allocate an in-house person or outsource to an agency. Start by defining what your objectives are – understand what your requirements are and take it from there. The media industry welcomes startups and new ideas – given they take the time to pitch themselves as per industry standards and practice targeted pitching.