12 PR secrets that all startups should know

TechCrunch did it again. They gathered great PR Secrets for Startups as shown in the quote below. Enjoy.

Secret #1
Understand You’re Not the Only Story in Town

Bloggers and reporters are some of the busiest people you could possibly hope to meet. They’re actively looking for the most interesting, relevant, and linkable stories out there, preferably before anyone else can run with it. But truthfully, they spend most of their time hacking through the weeds of generic or over-the-top inbound emails, press releases, Facebook messages, Skypes, SMSes, Tweets, and IMs. It’s almost a small miracle that anyone can ever get their story told.

At the end of the day, you’re not the only company with a great story. Just because your story is new doesn’t make it newsworthy.

Bloggers and journalists are interested in good stories and the more time you spend developing that story up front, for each person you’re trying to reach, the more you can help them help you.

Secret #2
Pick the Right Person or Team to Lead PR.

Your investors or advisors will tell you one of two things, usually starting with “you need PR.” From there, they’ll usually recommend that you either bring on an agency or consultant, one that they’ve worked with and can highly recommend. Or, they’ll suggest that you need to do it yourself (DIY) in order to build relationships with those who are highly respected in your target markets while conserving cash.

While DIY PR sounds good, you’ll quickly learn however, that it takes more time than you think to reach those people. Besides, you have other things to focus on and any good PR program will place you in a position to build relationships with the influencers that matter to your business.

Anyone can write a press release and blast it to a bunch of people. Remember, sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you just get ripped off. So, it’s important that you find the right solution that you can afford, but at the same time, offer your PR team the ability to deliver on the results that are realistic to what you need now.

When you do meet with PR people, evaluate them based on their ability to tell you succinctly who they have represented and pay attention to how well they summarize each company and what they do. Having existing relationships and the ability to show previous results is not optional.

Also quiz them on whether or not they understand the market, tech, benefits and the challenge as it relates to you specifically. If they can’t sell you on your product, how do you expect them to sell it to skeptical bloggers and journalists.

The two most important things to ask a potential PR consultant or agency are 1) do you have the bandwidth required to help us achieve these defined objectives and ? if it’s an agency ? 2) who’s going to work on my account and if it’s not you, can I meet the others on the team as well.

Secret #3
Participation is Marketing

You are equally important to the PR process. It doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself to bloggers or reporters offline and online to start building relationships with influencers who will help craft and guide your company across the market adoption bell curve.

Read and comment on their work. Send a brief intro email before you need anything. Attend one of the many tech networking events in your area to build your social capital, meet those who can help you, and those who you, in turn, can help as well.

Participation is marketing and by actively participating in both the online and real worlds, you forge relationships that will help your brand and social capital grow.

Keep in mind, how you participate, both online and in the real world, also contributes to your brand ? especially in the realm of social media. Comments, social network profiles, blog posts, pictures you share, etc., are all discoverable in traditional search engines and new media search tools.

Secret #4
Identify The Target Audience For Every Step Of Your Growth

Observe and document where you are in the state of the technology and market adoption and determine realistic goals and objectives that will help your business get to the next step. This is an especially important part as it will reveal who your customers are and where they go for information.

Now more than ever, it’s important to realize that there is no “one” audience for your story. Influence is usually a left-to-right process that picks up momentum and mass attention along the way. It fans out in the process.

This step allows you to identify which voices, blogs or media outlets reach your target audiences right now and at every step of your growth (you’ll see that your audience evolves along with your company).

Secret #5
Don’t Launch on Mondays

Pick a news or launch date, say Thursday at 11:30 a.m. PST, and build in a cushion to start talking to the right people under embargo before you roll out. Mondays and early mornings are usually the most congested. Releasing it later will most likely earn greater attention.

A quick note on embargoes and exclusives. Embargoes are a form of sharing news with media where they agree to not publish the news before an agreed upon date/time. Whereas exclusives require that you give your story to one person, and one person only. Choose carefully, as once someone runs with the story; chances are that other newsmakers will pass.

Embargoes and exclusives are not to be manipulated or taken advantage of. You should respect them and the people you’re working with.

Allowing journalists and bloggers adequate time to prepare is critical. They’re busy and they need more than an hour to digest and write a story. Once a press release or the news is made public, they no longer pay attention anyway. Their job (in an ideal world) is to break news, not to rewrite press releases.

Determine which reporters and bloggers should be part of the initial news discussions (under embargo). I’m a huge proponent of the “less is more” embargo strategy to try to 1) demonstrate appreciation for those you want to work with?it should be different with each type of announcement you feel is truly “newsworthy,” according to which audiences the news is best suited; and 2) to reduce or eliminate the chance that someone might break the embargo by running the story early (usually by mistake?sometimes you learn the hard way though.)

Secret #6
No Two Bloggers or Journalists are Created Equal

Do your homework. Once you’ve identified those whom you’d like to work with before and after the news date, make sure that the PR team researches individual preferences for contact before they reach out.

This is about relationships and creating a value cycle from PR to bloggers, journalists and ultimately to the people you want to reach with your news. This hopefully isn’t the last time you’ll reach out to these influeners, so work with them, their way, in order to earn the opportunity to collaborate again.

Relationships are cultivated and should be mutually beneficial as dictated by the extra time the PR team takes to personalize and package the story and align it with their workflow.

Perception is everything. Do the legwork and the outreach that contributes to the reputation you wish to earn and maintain. Anything less takes away from it.

Secret #7
Measure Success, Not Traffic

Establishing metrics at the beginning is important for setting expectations on both sides as well as establishing the bar for performance. Coverage is important but no one can ever predict or guarantee whether or not the blogs or news media you target will cover a particular story. However, establishing a quantity (based on quality) of coverage to shoot for is healthy, as long as you take into consideration an attrition factor.

PR can also be measured by conversations sparked online due to initial coverage, referring traffic as well as registrations and/or downloads. Analysis and measurement will reveal a path for prioritizing your targets now and in the future.

Be realistic in the number of visitors you establish as a metric. Also, make sure the site’s registration or download process is simple and that the messages around it are short and powerful. PR can bring traffic all day long, but if visitors aren’t reminded as to why they’re there or if the process is at all too cumbersome, the conversion ratio of visitors to users will quickly diminish.

Secret #8
Customize the News For Each Influencer to Make His Or Her Job Easier

I’ve been privy to an uncountable array of company pitches and it never ceases to amaze me just how few can actually summarize what they do and why it matters.

Focus on the elevator pitch and make it compelling, memorable, and relevant. Brevity is key.

Make sure to summarize each news announcement with a couple of statements and bullets to quickly showcase why anyone should care. Package the story differently for each person you’re hoping to reach, as each will have different needs. Take the time to pull relevant screen shots, create user accounts for each person if necessary, customize video demos and screencasts, and anything else someone may need to write a story instead of having to spend precious time doing your work for you.

Yes, it’s time consuming. But this is about building individual relationships and not about broadcasting spam.

Secret #9
Get a Spokesperson

This one breaks my heart each and every time. As I mentioned before, I’ve witnessed thousands of startup presentations and a majority are too painful to endure. Company founders are naturally enthusiastic and passionate about their product, but unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily make them the best spokesperson.

First impressions are everything, and publicly showcasing your company, on stage, online, in print, or via broadcast media, requires nothing less than a polished, personable, and contagious presentation.

As hard as it is to pass the torch, this is one of those times where you really don’t have much of a choice if you’re not absolutely, 100% the best voice of the company. All hope isn’t lost however. You can embrace media and presentation training, and when tied to a tight elevator pitch and convincing messaging platform, you may indeed emerge as the ideal spokesperson for your brand.

Secret #10
Your Company Blog is More Powerful Than You May Think

I’m sure you’ve all read that having a company blog is critical to maintaining communication with your community.

First, don’t under estimate it. Second, don’t over estimate it. A blog is the voice and the soapbox for thought leadership, vision, solutions, milestones, and advice. At the very least, it contributes to the personality of your corporate brand. The best blogs become a resource and a destination, which helps improve your bottom line. For example, Google’s official blog is number 16 in Technorati’s Top 100 list of popular blogs.

In a world of building relationships with bloggers, reporters, analysts, partners and customers, your strategy simply can’t rely on only contacting everyone when you have news. Relationships require cultivation and nurturing. The company blog can help.

Prior to and in between announcements, make sure you’re out there actively commenting on relevant blog posts. But don’t leave short, irrelevant, kiss-ass, or angry comments. Contribute to the value of the conversation and make sure it links back to your blog. Also host relevant conversations on your blog and link out to your most valuable contacts wherever possible. They do pay attention.

Maybe this goes without saying, but I’m going to mention it anyway. Don’t break your news on your own blog!

Like press releases crossing the wire, breaking news on your blog makes the news less valuable if others haven’t yet had an opportunity to break it for you first. It’s like the new car analogy. The value of the car drops the minute you drive it off the lot. Time your post for after when the news breaks and link to everyone who helped cover the story. (Unless, of course, you are Google, in which case you can do whatever you want)

Secret #11
Blogger Relations Extends from the “A-List” to the Magic Middle

Online conversations are distributed and it now requires PR to identify the relevant silos that reach valuable niche markets.

The best communications strategies will envelop not only authorities in new and traditional media, but also those voices in the “Magic Middle” of the attention curve. The Magic Middle, as David Sifry defined it, are the bloggers who have from 20-1000 other people linking to them. It is this group that enables PR people to reach The Long Tail and they help carry information and discussions among your customers directly in a true peer-to-peer approach. And, in many cases, these bloggers are your prospective customers. Their effects on the bottom line are constant and measurable over time.

Secret #12
Follow the Conversations and Join In

As much as media and blogger relations drive traffic and increase your user base, we can’t overlook the importance of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Diigo, FriendFeed, Ning, Mixx, Bebo, Get Satisfaction, Google and Yahoo Groups (among many, many others). When executed and managed correctly, and genuinely, the referring numbers can outperform the best articles and posts and the relationships that you create within these networks will prove incredibly valuable throughout the life of your company.

This isn’t about promotion or social network spam. This is about dialog driven by the insight you garner from listening to and reading the people who are talking about your company ? with or without your direct participation.

Try searching for your company, product, or competitor’s name in any of the above networks or any other social network, to see how they’re being discussed. By researching individual conversations, threads, and/or groups, you’ll find strategic points of entry across the board. This does take time, and may prove too overwhelming for you to run individually. Hiring a community manager or empowering your PR team to do so is a great place to start, that way they can point you to the conversations that require your attention or handle them directly.

Listening is as important as publishing. The best listeners make the best conversationalists. Make sure to keep a Google Alert for your company, spokespersons, and products. Reading and responding is critical to managing perceptions, sharing expertise, and building loyalty.

There’s no question, you have to compete for attention and in order to do so effectively and genuinely, you need someone who can help tell your story, the right way, through the people who reach your customers. It’s not an overnight process and it’s not something to “be gamed.” It’s a process of investing in, building and leveraging relationships now and in the long term. And yes, if you do things right, bloggers, reporters, and analysts will want to talk to you about your company and vision along the way.


Twisted Funniest Job Descriptions

JobMob put together what Scott Adams have collected through comments of his blog.


50 Funniest Short Job Descriptions Ever

My Job Is To…

  1. Read things that don’t matter, then write papers saying they do
    matter, for points that don’t matter, in order to get a job doing
    something totally unrelated: Student
  2. Take numbers on pieces of paper, rearrange them and put them on different pieces of paper: Tax Accountant
  3. Explain big words to sales people and then cower before customers
    while trying to convince them that the sales people really didn’t say
    what the customers understood: Customer Solutions Engineer
  4. Learn laws created ages ago so that I can tell engineers why I’m
    smarter than they are while complaining how it’s a travesty that they
    get paid more: Physics major
  5. Show you innovative ways to burn money in the spirit of patriotism: Fireworks Stand Manager
  6. Help people lie consistently to their bosses: Business Intelligence Consultant
  7. Teach your kids enough to complain but not enough to make a difference: College Teacher
  8. Pass poisonous gas on command: Research Assistant in solid state ammonia storage
  9. Make people who are already filthy rich somewhat richer by duping
    poor people into buying stuff they don’t need: Corporate Software
  10. Find as many synonyms for “explosion” as possible: Novelist for Teenage Boys
  11. Supervise the guys and gals who try to protect the good people from
    the bad, only to be hated by the good people AND the bad: Police
  12. Make corporate propaganda feel like folksy truthisms: TV Ad Director
  13. Manage waste recycling, promotion & sales: Antiques Dealer
  14. Arrive after the battle and bayonet all the wounded: Auditor
  15. Sell gas: Energy and Telecom Business Analyst
  16. Tell forty year-old men it’s okay to behave like fourteen year-old school girls: Printing Press Production Coordinator
  17. Provide arcane information on a need-to-know basis: Chief Accountant
  18. Shepherd clients through the process of setting their products on fire: Consumer Products Tester
  19. Manage urban renewal and pest control: B-52 Bomber pilot
  20. Persuade kids that it’s really fun being wet, cold and scared out of their minds: Sailing Instructor
  21. Draw up plans for something that will not be built according to those plans: Civil Engineer, Transportation Design
  22. Teach kids to be evil…or so they say: Video Game Creator
  23. Ensure that stupid people stay in the gene pool: Lifeguard
  24. Spend most of the day looking out the window: Pilot
  25. Wear a tuxedo and smash metal plates into each other: Musician
  26. Go to strange people’s houses and take their money: Pizza Delivery Boy
  27. Sell gluttony: Cinema Concession Stand Attendant
  28. Tell people that they can’t spend money they thought they had: Government Analyst
  29. Take pictures of the unlucky and the stupid: X-ray Technician
  30. Profit from the misfortunes of others: Cops and Courts Reporter
  31. Take a simple two-way promise and turn it into several complicated
    one-way promises which neither side can understand or hope to fulfill:
  32. Bring a little rain into the lives of flood victims: Government Debt Collector
  33. Have people spend far more than they estimated: Building Inspector
  34. Make sure nothing ever happens: IT Security
  35. Move things from one tube to another: Microbiologist
  36. Try not to kill the baby: Housewife
  37. Misinterpret the universe: Astronomer
  38. Be a human napkin: Stay-at-home mom of three
  39. Run away and call the police: Security Guard
  40. Copy and paste the Internet: Student

The Top 10

  1. Help people hate each other: Divorce Lawyer (Scott Adams’ favorite)
  2. Stand on a field and get yelled at for hours: Baseball Umpire
  3. Talk in other people’s sleep: College Professor
  4. Call people who know what they’re doing and ask them what they’re doing: Incident Manager
  5. Show people how beautiful the Earth would be without them: Mountain Landscape Photographer/Climber
  6. Make people feel bad about their work: Quality Assurance Tester
  7. Repeatedly fix what you repeatedly break: IT Director
  8. Clean up an animal that makes more money then me in a year: Assistant Horse Trainer
  9. Write words that no one wants to read: Technical Writer
  10. Make food that is as healthy before it goes in your body as when it comes back out: Fast Food Employee