Launching a startup before doing enough PR for the products could be detrimental to the startup’s success thereafter. It is important to do some PR before launch for the very reason of launching with a bang on the d-day, and having a good number of early users ready to adopt your products.
To achieve this, you need to implement a few PR strategies to get you interested users a few weeks before the launch so that when you launch you have a support base that could propel your business to great heights for a new company:
1. Build an Early Follower Base
Before you launch your startup, it’s important to build a large following that will in turn propel you through the early days of your startup. The idea is to have a following that you can count on for support before the product goes live.
Product Hunt is one such place where you can post details of the product you are building and the ideas behind it. People will then discuss it leaving comments below your post. Other people will totally love your idea and upvote you so that you can appear on top of the Product Hunt home page. Those people who upvote you constitute a following that will be eager to know when you are launching so they can get to test the product.
Social media networks continue to prove that they are an integral part of any startup’s launch. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Vine among others are social media networks that continue to spread more news than any other newspaper or online magazine today. These networks are where people of the millennium spend their time.
Before you launch your startup, you want to be seen on this networks spreading the word about your idea and what problems it aims to solve. The result is a following that will be interested to test your product. There are now more than 700 million people participating in Facebook groups, with millions and millions of groups already created. Making use of such groups could spur your startup at launch to getting new users in your early days than you will get for months after that.
Guest blogging is also another way of gaining new users before launching. Posting on other people’s blogs that already have a lot of traffic than your startup’s blog will lead to more people seeing your post and following your link back to your startup webpage where they will interact with you about your new business. Ideally, guest blogging should be done on blogs with readers who are interested in your new startup. Focus on a few blogs that are within your industry rather than hundreds that are off it.
2. Build Relationships with Industry Journalists
Getting PR is cool when it comes from respected journalists within your niche. These are the people whom you want to be talking to about your idea before launch. We have discussed how you can try to connect with journalists through cold emailing. It was definitely a lot of work, but one of the gems we created here at Pressfarm is the Cold Email Guide, a series of cold email pitch templates to illustrate how you should craft that first email to a journalist of your choosing. when you foresee your product being ready in about six months it gives you enough time to start chatting beforehand with journalists that might be interested in your story.
Don’t tell your story in the first email. You will benefit more from building a relationship first; you have a whole six months to do so. Some of the possible ways to begin building a relationship with journalists is to suggest stories to them (again, see 10 Cold Email Pitch-to-Journalists Templates), if they are interested they will come back for more and to get a source as well, at which point you will have your first contact… and then another… and many more after that. When you do this, it’s easier to get back to the journalists as your friends and tell them about your story, about 3 to 4 weeks before your startup goes live. Again, make sure the journalists are in your niche and their readers are the right target market for your product. For more about this check out 13 Reasons why your startup doesn’t get press.
3. Write & Share Press Releases
Press releases are a little old fashioned but they still work like a charm. Let’s just say, they will never stop working unless journalists and the whole media thing dies. Meanwhile, for as long as media houses and journalists exist, press releases will continue to be a source for the news we hear, see and read.
Prepare a press release that goes deeper into your startup and your idea. Don’t make it a sales pitch. If a press release sounds too much like a sales pitch, you can rest assured it won’t work out for the best. The best press releases by startups prior to launching are those that tell the story behind the story behind the idea that forms a solution for a particular problem that people face. Yes?
After writing a press release, it won’t read itself, will it? You have to release it to as many press release websites as you could possibly reach. While sharing that press release out there, make sure you put it in the right categories for your niche otherwise it will miss the target market.
4. Share Feedback
What are people saying about your new startup before the launch? Those are very important pieces of information. Share them, especially if they are positive pieces. If they are not positive, then by all means don’t share them. What you want is a huge amount of positive feedback being shared out there for other people to see. Take this as an equivalent to the testimonials section on your website, except that since you don’t have a lot of visits on your site yet, you are sharing these testimonials through word of mouth, social media and beyond.
When people see the positive feedback, more and more of them will want to learn about what you are building so they can also form their own opinions regarding your startup. The more you share the feedback, the more you get interested new users willing to test it upon launch which is very good PR for your new yet-to-be-launched startup.
5. Build an Awesome Landing Page with Email Opt-in
You want to drive all those curious souls you have shared your story with to a nicely designed landing page where they will share with you their contact information. Nothing beats an email list, nothing. When you target the right market when creating your follower base, you will need to send them somewhere where you request them to leave their names and emails or phone numbers so you can contact them when the startup goes live. That is called a landing page, literally, where people land on your website.
There are several tools out there that you can use to create a well-designed landing page with an email opt-in bar. We have discussed about strategies to follow when designing landing pages. Imagine what you could achieve if right off the bat you have 10,000 email addresses of people who are excited and ready to test your product when you launch. That would be really huge. Using social media, guest blogging, Product Hunt (and other similar services), press releases, an impressive landing page and email opt-in, you can achieve this great feat.
6. Make Sure the Product Works
Before launching, test and test again. Make sure the core function of your product works. When you launch, there will be no going back. If your product crashes or even fails during the first few days when people are still testing it, there will be no going back. You will have lost a huge chunk of new interested users.
To avoid such scenarios, make sure the basic function of your idea works. The product doesn’t have to be perfect at all, it just needs to work because that basic function is what got you a large following prior to launch. Crashes that come out of too many people downloading your app or visiting your website are understandable because you didn’t foresee the large amounts of traffic. Crashes and disappointments that happen simply because your product’s most important feature doesn’t work are totally intolerable and might be hard to recover from.
Consequently, when your basic function works, that first week of launching could get you thousands or hundreds of users and a lot more PR than you could ever imagine.
7. Using Kickstarter/Indiegogo
Many startups have gone onto the crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to not only raise funds for product development and distribution but also for gaining some PR before the official launch date. At this point, most of these startups have developed a basic product from their idea and are willing to get test users who also fund-raise for further development or mass manufacturing.
Projects that go beyond their crowdfunding goal get a lot of early users like the game of cards based on exploding kittens on Kickstarter. They also get a lot of media coverage on news sites like TechCrunch, Engadget, Mashable, The Verge, etc. The result is a lot of press and people talking about it on social media.
8. Join Communities
There are hundreds of thousands of online communities for specific niches. They range from tech to architecture; from bikes to planes; from gaming to sports and entertainment. Almost any community you can think of exists online somewhere.
These communities also exist on various online platforms from social media networks like Google Plus and Reddit where communities are huge to forums where these interests are laid out on an even larger audience. Joining these communities to discuss about your soon-to-be-launched startup could get you interested people who will spread the word and even get you more email opt-ins.
9. Build Relationships with Industry Influencers
Industry influencers are a good bunch of people to keep close. Want to find out who are the industry influencers for your niche? There are apps for that and we will cover those apps in future, however, a simple search on Google will prove helpful.
Find out about the industry voices that matter and pitch them about your new startup. As you have probably figured out, very few of them will even care about your new product. It’s those few that your new startup needs. Industry influencers kind of know each other. If you can get one or two of those into your corner, imagine what a simple tweet from them could do for your startup’s PR. Such a mention would trigger the other influencers who didn’t take notice of you to go and check your product, and many more of their followers will come ready to test it when it launches.
Correct timing also helps a lot. You shouldn’t start building a follower base and kicking out press releases months before you launch, that will be too early. People will get tired of waiting and eventually forget about you.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t build a follower base when it’s just 2 days left before launching your product. You will get very few email opt-ins for early users and may not get as good traction after launch. Therefore, find out the correct timing for these strategies alongside your product launch-date and see what works for you.
However, in my opinion, building a following is good when it’s done about 2 to 3 weeks before launch. Don’t forget, building a relationship with a journalist should start months before that. Finding a proper journalist to feature your story can be a very difficult task. Getting their contacts is even harder most of the time. An online tool like Pressfarm is built to help founders in this early stages of building startup PR by providing a platform where you go to easily find journalists and their contacts to write about your startup.
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Originally published at press.farm on January 11, 2016.