We started Pressboard just over a year ago, with no investment, no clients and no product. It’s not easy to generate a lot of PR when you don’t have anything to talk about yet. While I am by no means a PR expert, I have learned a few things over the last year that I hope will help others in a similar situation. Here are my tips.
1. Have a goal in mind
PR outreach takes a ton of time and effort. It’s easy to get trapped in the “any PR is good PR” trap and start reaching out to every blogger, website, and magazine you can think of. We were specifically looking to reach advertising agencies, brand managers and media publishers in Canada so we focused all of our attention on two trade publications: Marketing Magazine and Media in Canada.
I individually reached out to the publishers, editors and writers at each publication and formed a relationship before sending over a press release. We were fortunate to be covered by both publications on our launch and they have continued to support our business ever since.
2. It doesn’t always have to be a pitch
While we each believe that our own companies are going to revolutionize the world, let’s face it, to most reporters we’re simply one of the hundreds of press releases filling their inboxes each day. Be creative in your approach. When we launched into the US I didn’t know a single person at any of the major publications. Sending over a press release yielded no results, so instead I spent time learning what a day is like in the life of a reporter. After interviewing writers and reporters at Fast Company, ReadWrite, Mashable, Ad Age, Newsweek and The Next Web I had a better understanding of what they were looking for from a pitch. I was then able to share those learnings with others through a blog post. Marketing Magazine then picked it up and published it to their readers.
I learned a lot, built relationships with a ton of great writers and reporters in the US, and generated some earned media for PR at the same time.
3. If no one else will publish your story, do it yourself
Like I said, when we started Pressboard we really didn’t have anything to say, except that we had started a company. I did notice though that a lot of people were asking me why I quit a great job to become and entrepreneur. After re-telling the same story over and over, I thought I may as well write it down. I posted the story on LinkedIn and soon after people started to share it. I was shocked when more than 10,000 people read it in just a few days, including potential business partners, customers and investors.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about PR and storytelling is that it’s the personal stories that connect best. Let your guard down; often your own story is more interesting than the company one.
Learn more about Pressboard in this Q&A.