How to do PR on a budget - Frugl
PR is a big headache for many startups. How can you make your business stand out from the crowd, gain media attention, and generally get people talking about your product? Suzanne Noble a Virgin StartUp ambassador and the founder of Frugl, an app that curates the best cheap things to do in London. Before founding Frugl, Suzanne ran a PR agency, so when starting up Frugl she knew the challenges ahead - and how to deal with them. Here's her advice for doing PR on a budget.
Ask most start-ups what their biggest headache is, and most I know respond by saying, “Marketing.” The typical entrepreneur can spend so long working on their product or service that they forget that without customers, they won’t have a business. Many resort to the more obvious low-cost channels, spending hours on social media, online forums or attending meet-up groups to reach their audience.
Having spent over twenty years running a PR agency, my natural default is to seek out opportunities to generate media coverage for Frugl in newspapers and online media, no matter how big or small. As a result, Frugl has been featured in CityAM, Buzzfeed, Metro, the Evening Standard and many more, all without having to spend a penny.
I’m lucky that sourcing opportunities to generate PR for Frugl comes as second nature to me. However, achieving PR for your own business isn’t as difficult as you might think and the good news is, you can do it yourself. They key to becoming your own best publicist is to know a) where and how to spot PR opportunities and b) being ready to provide the information you’re going to need in order to become the go-to person for journalists and bloggers seeking an expert in your sector.
If Twitter is good for anything, it’s for finding journalists looking for spokespeople. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend hours scouring hundreds of Twitter feeds to find them. Journorequests.com does this for you, providing you with a daily email of all the journalists who have used the hash tag “journorequest.” Journolink.com is similar but has journalists submit their requests to the site directly, which the platform then distributes to their subscribers via email. There are other similar services to these two such as ResponseSource.com, available on a free trial for a limited time.
Aside from Twitter, I often discover opportunities to provide a soundbite or write a first person feature via Facebook groups such as London Start-Ups. The key is to be ready and quick to respond. Most journalists work to very short deadlines, often needing a quote to finish a story the same or next day of publication. If you come across a journalist requesting a quote and think you’re the perfect spokesperson, write back straight away and express your interest. Keep your reply short – just three or four sentences at most. If the journalist requires more information, they’ll ask for it.
I’m not a big fan of long press releases. You should be able to sum up your business or what makes your story newsworthy in a few lines. Trade or niche media are always on the hunt for good stories, and being a startup is considered very ‘in’ these days. There are lots of different ways you can get the attention of the media, whether it’s sharing your own story, running the results of a survey or announcing the launch of your new product or service. Above all, get to the point quickly.
Put in the hours
Finally, do your homework. Take down the names of journalists that you read on a regular basis and write about your sector. Follow your favourites on Twitter and engage in conversations with them there in an effort to make sure that your first correspondence with them is opened and read. Show that you’re familiar with their work, and flatter their ego! Most of the journalists working on the national newspapers and the larger websites will receive hundreds of emails a day; make sure yours stands out!
If you want to find out more about how to get PR on a Shoestring, you can always view my online course at Monkfeet filled with lots more handy tips and tricks!