I applaud you for your passion as an entrepreneur and your courage to embark in the uncharted territory of starting a business. I believe that your product/service may change the world. Who knows you may be the next Sarah Blakely (the inventor of Spanx.)
You feel like youre ready to launch, and you cant wait to share your revolutionary product/service with the universe. Before landing on the pages of Forbes Magazine or a spot on Good Morning America, it’s a good idea to ask yourself: “are you ready for your PR closeup?”
Here is your 4-Step Checklist:
1. Do your Research
Create a business plan with realistic goals and objectives. Find out where you fit in the market. If youve invented a product/service that solves a major problem; then youre off to a great start. Know your competition. How is your product/service different and what is its wow factor? Define your audience. These are the end users, shareholders, investors, vendors, influencers, etc. Determine what resonates with them and what makes them tick.
How do you do that without breaking the bank you ask? None other than social media. These days, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are the best ways to reach a broad market at such a low cost. Where else can you listen, engage and grow an audience this effectively? Nowhere. Create a social media plan and select the platforms that suits your Facebook, I mean fancy.
2. Test the Goods
Make sure the product/or service works. An idea may sound great but until proven to work–that’s all it is–an idea. Besides, a pitch to a reporter or producer would go further with an excellent testimonial to back up your novel invention or time-saving service. Its equally important to have a decent website where both your customers and the media have readily accessible information. And for goodness sake, make sure your website is up and running.
I’ve heard horror stories of startups getting great press but for some mysterious reason their site was down. Imagine the loss in revenue if thousands are reading a mention of your product and link to your site to find a dead end. You may be trending today, but youre old news by tomorrow.
3. Live your Story
Do you know who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it? If you can’t answer those simple questions, then you’ve got some homework to do. Be equipped with a stockpile of stories to share and think long-term. You dont want to give it all up at launch and then — cue in the crickets. Instead, articulate a steady flow of stories with various angles. One may be the backstory as to why you started your company in the first place, another may be an announcement of a new partnership.
Become a thought leader by sharing the latest industry trends. After all, youre the founder of your notable business and an expert in the field.
4. Prepare for your Close Up
Congratulations, you landed your first interview on the local news. Reporters dont want to talk to your publicist; its you they want. Be media savvy before going on the air and sounding like a rambling idiot. Know your key messages. Remember, no matter how tough the questions are, always communicate with a consistent, concise and unified voice. Do practice, practice, practice by thinking up all the possible questions. Record someone asking them, listen to the playback and look for ways you can improve.
Do dress the part by wearing the appropriate attire in the right colors. Apparently white doesnt bode well on television. Of course, theres that adage that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Valid for both you and your business.
There is a lot PR can do for your startup like help build long-term relationships and increase brand awareness via earned media.
An investment in both time and money, PR doesnt come cheap. ROI doesnt happen overnight either, so please be patient. I’ve seen startups rush to press prematurely and let’s just say–it doesnt end well. PR is like a seed that you plant in the garden. If you nourish it consistently and with a little patience, you will watch it flourish just like your business. Do me one favor–Be Ready.