STARTUP LAUNCH PR IS A TOOL TO GATHER DATA
Most startups I advise don’t understand the point of PR and assume they need to hire an agency that charges upwards of $10k to do it. Let me be clear: PR doesn’t mean getting featured on Techcrunch, it can’t sell your product especially if it sucks, and while it may drive some initial adoption, it does not drive engagement.
The main purpose of startup launch PR is to gather enough data to help you find product market fit. As a startup founder, you have a set of assumptions about your product that you want to test in the market, and you should be using PR to help you acquire a solid sample size that can provide valuable information about your assumptions. That way, you can make data driven decisions on key next steps. A strong PR strategy supports throwing as wide of a net as possible to attract a variety of first time customers, meaning it must have a vertical focus that targets specific categories (e.g. lifestyle, gaming, etc).
You’ll know a PR strategy is bad when the core of it is aimed at getting an exclusive on Techcrunch. Techcrunch does not drive a high volume of conversions and is aimed at a small demographic of nerds like myself. So unless you are building a product for the startup community, please don’t launch your startup solely via tech outlets and call it a day. You’ll find yourself having more success in driving conversions via blogs that have an intersection between lifestyle and technology anyway.
To hire good PR people - yes people, not agencies - my suggestion is to tap into your network or identify startups you think have done phenomenal PR work and ask them who they use. The PR industry is relationship-based so solid PR people have strong relationships with journalists, understand how to pitch individuals and the audience of specific outlets, and know how to prioritize stories to share with each outlet. By focusing on relationship-based PR, you maximize the potential for feedback to drive product development and support the success of your company.