People need attention: it’s a normal and healthy part of life. And getting attention is marvellous: it makes you feel smart, sassy and confident and leads you to perform better in life, at work and in the bedroom. But guess what? Your start-up is no different! It too needs nurturing to perform at peak efficiency. So how do you make your start-up feel like the prettiest girl in the room?
If you’re in the early stages of building a B2C product, you know that capturing people’s imaginations by explaining to them why they absolutely have to sign up to your beta is critical to your future. But there’s a problem, right? At precisely the time in your company’s lifecycle that you need a bunch of users to prove your model, you can least afford so-called luxuries like PR. Why shorten your runway, goes the thinking, when you could be ploughing the cash into developer time?
Well, you might not have to. Later in your company’s life, you will almost certainly want to retain a public relations firm. They can do wonders for your business and take a lot of the work of dealing with the press off your shoulders: after all, they’re in business themselves because they know exactly what you want, and how to get you it. (That’s why hiring a PR firm that is itself a start-up is often a brilliant idea: they get exactly where you’re coming from.)
But even PR firms – the best ones, anyway – will tell you that PR isn’t right for everyone. And in some cases, it simply isn’t an option. So I’m going to share some secrets with you that will help you get to the press and get your message out there. This post is primarily relevant to product-focused B2C companies, but with a little common-sense modification, any business can market itself more effectively by thinking about these rules when they create a story around their product. All it takes is a clear head, a bit of initiative and a good nose for what people want. (And if you don’t have any of those things, what the hell are you doing being an entrepreneur?)
I’m not going to call it PR, or even marketing, because it isn’t quite either of those things. It’s more guerilla than that. I’m going to call it what it is: good old-fashioned attention-seeking. Because the idea here is to have journalists come to you – not the other way around. And you’ll find that, if you’re doing something sufficiently daring and exciting, they’ll be beating your door down to get the exclusive.
This guest post, first published on 500 Startups and reprinted here with permission, is written by Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology columnist for The Telegraph in London who writes about the internet, copyright, privacy and start-ups. Milo is commissioning editor of The Telegraph’s Tech Start-Up 100, the most authoritative and trustworthy ranking of promising start-ups in Europe. He’s a regular speaker at tech conferences and a mentor to start-ups, particularly those operating in media, content, publishing, advertising and social networking. Previous attention-seeking exploits of Milo’s include The London Nude Tech Calendar and the Michael Jackson tribute moonwalk.