7 Simple Steps to Launching In-House Public Relations at a Startup

I’ve talked to a lot of startups that don’t even know where to start when it comes to their public relations efforts. They might not even have PR efforts yet, and that’s totally cool.

When you’re ready to start thinking about it, and having one member of your team wearing the PR hat, here are some of the things you can immediately do to set up the whole press shebang.

1. Create a Messaging Doc

First things first, get your messaging doc ready. Here are some of the questions it should answer:

  • What does your company do?
  • When were you founded?
  • Do you have any investors or funding?
  • How did you get started or get the idea?
  • Any notable customers?
  • Add in any commonly asked questions about your business like where did you come up with your name, or do you plan on expanding to X?

They seem like easy questions to answer, but the first time you are in touch with a reporter (I’m crossing my fingers that it’s a when and not an if :) ) you’ll want to have answers ready to all of the above.

Another good use case here is if a reporter reaches out on a tight deadline and wants to include your company in their article. You want to have answers ready for the easy questions that are predictable (those lovely questions up there) so you can focus your time and energy on the questions that are less predictable and might require a bit more thought.

2. Gather All of Your Past Press Mentions in a Spreadsheet

If you’ve received press in the past (because you rock) gather it all up in one place. It seems a bit funny to be reminded of this, but trust me, few startups do this.

And why might you want all of those past press mentions on one place? Most importantly because the reporters who wrote those articles are now warm contacts of yours. (Celebration time!) This means that in the future if you have a story that might be a good fit for them, they’ve already written about you once. They’re much more likely to at least open your email.

Another good use for these press mentions is to add them to a press page down the line. (That’s in #6.)

3. Create a Media List

I recently wrote a whole post on creating a reporter spreadsheet to track contacts. You can create this in spreadsheet version, or in a private Twitter list. Or both. (I do both : D)

I’m not going to dig in too much here because there’s a lot more info on creating the media list spreadsheet here, and on creating Twitter lists here.

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4. Find Reporters You Want to Connect With

The next step is research.

You can start pretty small here. I would try to find 10 reporters who you think might write about you. A good trick I use is when you see an article that you love and you think Woah, that could have been about my company! Maybe because the angle is similar to something you would pitch, grab that reporters name and add it in here.

This is a good list to have handy in case something happens really quickly, you win an award, partner with another product, whatever your newsworthy moment might be. You’ll look to this list for who to email.

Get it ready in advance so that you aren’t sitting there researching in the moment when you could be pitching!

5. Create a Simple Press Kit

Don’t let the words press kit scare you, this does not have to be super fancy. It can be a shared Dropbox folder and shouldn’t take too much time. Just name it “Press kit” and add in:

  • founder headshots
  • company logos
  • a product description; and
  • relevant bios

Not that hard, right?

In the same way that the messaging doc is great for quick emails, these will be awesome resources for anyone on the team to grab in a hurry.

A cool next step is making this press kit downloadable from your press page.

6. Add a Press Page to Your Website or Just a Way to Get in Touch

I’m personally a big fan of press pages as easy ways for reporters to grab your logo, founder names, date founded, etc. It’s also a beautiful place to display some of your favorite coverage if that feels good to you.

If a press page isn’t up your alley, just having an email address visible and easy to find is also an awesome option. If a reporter is on your website and wants to get it touch, make it easy to do so. : )

7. Pick a Spokesperson

This comes in handy when there are multiple founders or team members.If you’re a one-person startup, this isn’t something you have to think about (because it’s you!)

A lot of startups don’t have a dedicated press person, it’s someone on the team who is already juggling four hats and is probably also the founder. It doesn’t have to necessarily be just one person that is always the spokesperson, but it makes thing flow more quickly if there’s one founder that is super comfortable with the media and ready to take on that responsibility.

And that’s it! 

All of the items I just listed will make it so easy for any other team members to jump in and help with press, or if eventually there is a communications person on board for them to take over really easily.

Hope these are helpful!

Would love to hear about how you get your press organized in the comments or over on Twitter. :) 

Hailley Griffis is a digital nomad and Press Crafter at Buffer who is obsessed with communications and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Keep up with her current location in the world in 140 characters (or less) on Twitter as @hailleymari.

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