Every week there is a new post debating whether or not startups should focus on PR. While all of the arguments are different, they are mostly focused on the insane costs of hiring a PR agency, and whether or not it’s worth it.
The reality of it is that most startup founders have zero experience in PR, and most PR agencies have zero experience running a startup. You are living in two different worlds, and your idea of what you are trying to accomplish. Most PR professionals have zero experience in web traffic and analytics. This means that they have no idea what kind of media coverage will drive you traffic, and what to do with that traffic. Most startups don’t have the funds to pay an agency enough to truly integrate with your marketing team, which means you will never get the full value from your PR agency.
I have spent the past five years working on online media, and learned the ins and outs of using media coverage to drive traffic. Here is a little guide to get you started:
- National broadcast is a great credential and can help drive brand awareness, but national broadcast is a terrible traffic driver.
- The caveat is if you are offering a special discount just for viewers. E! News the Today Show often do these types of features.
- Unless you are besties with a producer, you will probably not get included in a segment. National television shows have gotten really strict about earned media placements, which has made it nearly impossible for brands to get organic mentions. (aka they prefer ad dollars)
- The best way to get your foot in the door is to find the experts these shows feature, and make them fall in love with your project.
- National print is also a great credential and can drive awareness.
- You will have to work really hard to get a placement, and the mention will probably be so small you will see very little traffic conversions.
- The best ways to land national print coverage are to build relationships with the key editors, hire a freelance writer who regularly contributes to national outlets or pitch your CEO as an expert who could contribute.
- Regional media is the most overlooked type of media placement.
- It is a known fact in the startup world that regional newspapers are the only media outlet that has not had a significant decline in their readership. Everyone reads their local papers, so there is a huge opportunity to connect with consumers on a personal level.
- There is less competition to land regional media coverage, so you will get more coverage from the work you put into it.
- The downside is that very few people get excited when you land a placement in a small town newspaper.
- Traditional outlets with an online presence have almost no ability to drive traffic.
- For example, the New York Times receives more than 4M page views a month, but they publish 1,500 articles a day. That averages out to around 95 page views per article. This doesn’t include the assumption that the top 20 most popular posts receive the majority of those views. with those numbers, you have almost no changes of converting that traffic into a sale.
- I am being very general in my definition of blogs, and classifying a blog as a smaller site that is updated a few times a week to a few times per day.
- Blogs have an amazing ability to drive traffic. I have received more traffic from MightyGirl.com than I did from the New York Times and NPR: All Things Considered combined.
- Building on my previous example, MightyGirl.com receives 300K readers per month, and publishes 2-3 posts per week. This averages out to around 25K page views per post.
- Getting blog coverage can be very time consuming and often requires a minimal budget, but the ROI can be exponential.
What experience has your startup had with media coverage? What kind of coverage gave you the most results? What didn’t work for you? What did you learn? Leave your experience in the comments below.