The 6 Rules of PR for Startups

February 10, 2016

PR for startups

All startups struggle with PR. When you build your own business, you just want to get it out there in the press, but PR is not as simple as it seems.

You usually start with the general press release because, apparently, that’s all it takes. You then, forward it to the hundreds of press contacts you got from a friend of yours, and wait for magic to happen. However, truth is, magic rarely happens when it comes to PR.

To get PR right you should probably forget everything anyone has ever told you about how to do PR for startups (believe me I’ve been there myself) and take a different approach. Good thing we’ve got it covered…

Last week, we were lucky enough to have at our HQ in Lisbon, Robin Wauters, Editor and Founder of, to give a talk about how to get the press to talk about your startup.

Robin gave awesome advice to all the entrepreneurs in the room (totally sold out by the way) so we thought it would be cool to share it with anyone who is interested. Here are Robin’s 6 rules for PR:

Rule #1 – Do or build something mind-blowing

If you build something truly amazing and unique you will definitely draw some attention. Journalists love to talk about things they can understand and relate to, and if the product takes an innovative approach that’s the first step for getting some press coverage.

Rule #2 –  Do your homework

You clearly need to know how journalists work. Journalists get all sorts of pitches on Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, they get hundreds of emails every day with press releases from random people they haven’t even met, and all of this keeps them super busy, all the time. So, if you want to get their attention you need to do your homework. Figure out what they write about, who their audience is, go read previous articles and pitch your business individually. Avoid, at all costs, the general press release for the masses.

Rule #3 – Build relationships first

Avoid reaching out only when you have something to share with the world. Invest in building relationships, other than sending sporadic emails or phone calls when you really need them (they might need you too someday, remember that). Go meet journalists at events and meet-ups, get yourself introduced by someone they know well and build a relationship from that moment onward.  

Rule #4 – Craft a great story

You might not have a truly unique and amazing product but if you tell the story right, you’ll get some attention. Explain why the journalist you’re reaching out to should care about what you’re doing. Give him or her an angle: if you’re raised funding, specify how much, why, who from, and what for. If you’ve inked a great deal, tell him or her what it means for your business. If you’re releasing a new product, tell him or her how it differs from others. And please, make sure that in the meantime, you avoid common buzzwords such as ‘revolutionary’, ‘award-winning’, ‘ground-breaking’… (well, this list could go on forever).

Rule #5 – Learn how to deliver it

This is just like your pitch. When you get it started it’s pretty simple but as you do it over and over again, you adapt and improve. Do the same with PR. Figure out how you’ll reach out to journalists and then as you move along, test different email subjects, explain things with a different angle, work on the relationship you have with each one of them, etc.

Rule #6 – Do all of the above BEFORE you start pitching to journalists

It’s as simple as that. You shouldn’t do this overnight, PR takes time. But, just before you panic and hire a PR agency to do that for you, remember that no one will know your product like you do, no one will tell the story like you do.
Sincerely, hope this helps if you’re getting your PR strategy started, and if you think we got it all wrong, let us know, we love to talk about the topics we cover.   

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