Growth Hacking for Startup Ventures: PR101



Public Relations is content marketing for you and your company. You have to craft a story and you have to sell it. Good PR is also an important piece of growth hacking that often gets overlooked.

Most new ventures get interested in PR after they have experienced a positive PR event. Maybe, their venture won a business plan competition or a TV host interviewed the CEO or the company closed on an incredibly large Kickstarter campaign—all three real cases. What next?

Most startups think about writing a press release. Public relations is much more than a press release and includes the practice of managing the spread of information between you or your company through the media with the goal to increase awareness and to elevate the perception of you and your company.

PR validates your venture as it drives awareness and good PR establishes trust. Users visit websites and customers purchase product based upon many factors and trust is one of those factors. PR is also difficult for a new company that does not have much information out on them and getting early PR requires work. Here is a quick to-do list:

  • Target Publications and Reporters: Find publications and writers that are an appropriate fit. For large publications, find the writer or writers that cover your niche. Connect on a personal level. Let the writer know you are familiar with their work and their recent stories and how your venture or your story fits perfectly in their space and at this time.

Consider this – As a company, you took the time to understand your niche in the market. You researched the problem your company solved better than anyone else. You should approach generating PR in the same fashion. How does your personal or company back-story solve a problem for the writer? Know the media outlet’s style and target demographics as well as you know the business model for your competitor. The fight for PR should be taken as seriously as your fight to get into the marketplace.

  • Tell a story and have an angle: I worked for TIME magazine, FORTUNE magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Journalists hear pitches all the time. Focus your pitch on either what makes you interesting or what makes your venture compelling to readers. Come up with your own headline. How would it read? Ask yourself, would you want to read that story?
  • Find influencers: Particularly in social media, find ways to connect with like minds and influencers at industry publications and blogs including heavy users of Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Work on your pitch. Create a compelling story by starting with a headline and get to the point. Use statistics and data to reinforce your message. Rinse, lather and repeat. And really consider the subject line of your email or your opening line on a phone call. Make it intriguing. Make it something someone wants to pay attention to. Don’t use bland subject lines like “introducing company xyz” or “a better way to communicate with friends.” These are sure to go unopened.
  • And lastly, don’t say, at any point, you are the next Uber, Google, Facebook, Twitter…be original. That gets written about. You may have similarities to those businesses or platforms, but remember; you didn’t start your own business to just imitate others. Be confident in your defining characteristics and educate others about them through media.

Basic PR ToolKit

  • Name
  • Tagline
  • Mission Statement
  • Company Description
  • Logo
  • Images
  • Biography
  • Previous Press
  • Your Pitch

Your Pitch – Make it newsworthy. Be able to answer these questions:

  • Why this publication or blog?
  • Why this reporter or influencer?
  • Why you and why your venture?
  • Why today and not another time?




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Nuiton May

About the author: Grant Son

Grant Son built a previous startup into top 10 sports website that was acquired by ESPN.  He is currently the CEO of Greater Good Ventures, providing venture services to early stage ventures, large corporations and Ivy League Universities.  Grant also teches Entrepreneurship at Columbia University and Sports Marketing at Columbia Business School.  He serves as a Mentor and Entrepreneur in Residence at Cornell, Columbia, Wharton, and Johns Hopkins.  Grant also recently served as judge for business plan competitions at Columbia, Wharton and Cornell.  

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