Is having the right PR strategy a necessity when you’re going to market? And how do you know what your strategy should be? We invited PR expert Saar Dietvorst and Hadrien Crespin, co-founder of the smart parking app Seety, to discuss the perfect PR approach for startups. “PR done right is using the media and the public opinion to take your startup to the next level.”
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Every company out there, whether it’s a large corporate or a small startup, needs public relations. It’s as simple as that. But what’s not so simple, is figuring out what the best strategy is for your startup. Taking your time to prepare a strategy that matches your company’s identity and ambitions, is of the utmost importance.
“I think PR done right means using the media and the public opinion to take your startup to the next level” Saar Dietvorst
“Start by defining your key messages and think about the desired impact. Do you want more leads? Do you focus on building a community? Or do you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry? Working on your PR is a long-term project, it’s about becoming an authority. And you won’t achieve that with just one media appearance but with communicating on a regular basis. The key is to tell a story that is clear and unambiguous, via the press, your own social media channels, newsletters, etcetera.”
“Many startups believe they have an interesting story to tell, but journalists don’t always agree”, Hadrien Crespin says. “You have to put yourself in the journalist’s place and ask: what would I want to tell my viewers or readers?”
“Being prepared involves picking the right moment to communicate”, Saar says. “We often see startups that are thrilled with the media attention they get, but they’re not quite ready for it. When people see or read about you in the media and want to buy your product, you need to have the required capacity. The right timing is crucial, so take your time. If a journalist is interested in your company right now, he will still be a month later.”
“Also make sure you can answer all questions, also the difficult ones”, Saar continues. “In that respect, a well-thought-out Q&A is an important first step.
Hadrien agrees: “You’re absolutely right that the impact of PR can be massive and you need to be prepared. For us at Seety, it meant making sure that the servers could handle the extra traffic.”
Impress the press
Most founders know exactly what they want to say, but they don’t always know how to put those words onto paper. Their great, innovative products don’t always get the great press release they deserve. While a clear and attractive press text is very important to get a journalist’s attention “Most founders are really smart people”, Saar says. “But that does not mean they are the best writers. That’s ok, but be smart then, and hire a professional copywriter. It will definitely be worth the investment”, she says.
So, what is a good press release? “A press release should make your product relevant for a wider audience”, Saar states. “If you only talk about yourself, or if you keep it too commercial, journalists won’t be triggered. So open things up, make clear that your story is a true win for the industry you work in, or for society. That means the ‘why’ is really important. Also provide journalists with some interesting numbers.” Once that press release is on point, the next step is to get it in the hands of the right people: “You absolutely need a press list”, Saar says. “It’s very easy to follow journalists on Twitter or LinkedIn and build up a list of media that are interesting to you.”
The average journalist’s inbox is packed with more press releases than he can read. How can you stand out? “Make sure that the message is crystal clear in the title and intro, that saves the journalist time and effort. Your powerful text will be the foundation of the final press article. Try to add testimonials from clients or experts and think about nice pictures as well. A good press release tells a complete story.”
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The production of this podcast was made possible thanks to our strategic partners – KBC, Telenet, Cronos group, Accenture, Mobile Vikings, Flanders DC, Joyn, Imec and Universiteit Antwerpen.
Have you listened to the previous episodes? For episode 12 we invited Bruno Koninckx (KnowledgeFlow) and Bart Buckinx (BookWidgets) to tell us about product-market fit. Episode 13 featured Laura Morrell from Recy-call and Jannes Valkeneers from Bullswap, who talked about sustainability and circularity. In episode 14 we delved into the remarkable startup story of Pieterjan Verhaeghen, co-founder of energy matchmaker Bolt.