Do-It-Yourself PR Marketing for Startups

In this tutorial, I demonstrate a do-it-yourself public relations (PR) marketing strategy for startups, (almost) guaranteed to turn more opt-ins into sales or appointments. These approaches take you beyond existing funnels and an online presence to challenge and encourage you to come up with additional lead generation strategies. I’ll address how to create a media hit list and leverage avenues of creating and spreading your content throughout the Internet and your “online real estate” domain i.e. in spaces where potential buyers frequently visit.

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Organizing a Media Hit List

The first step is to create four categories that makeup our media hit list. Organizing your target groups will allow you to roll out a consistent PR effort on a monthly or quarterly basis. As each category is introduced, think about how the examples given apply to your own business model.

Set up a spreadsheet with each category – Media Sites; Interview Sites; Email Lists; and Social Media – each formatted as a different color-coded header.  I include the following columns, from left to right at the top of the spreadsheet, to help organize each category:

  • URL
  • Contact information
  • Last reach out (comb through these dates once a month)
  • Promoted last (the date when you last partnered up with a company or organization)
  • Ongoing (opportunities where you have consistent, profitable bartering or paid arrangements that drive front-end funnels through major lists and sites)
  • Approaches (ideas for how to feature content regularly through other media channels)

To simplify and focus this tutorial, I focus on the last column header, Approaches, for each category in turn.

Media Sites

We define media sites as any site where you can share articles or buy ads. This could be a forum, a news article site, or a blog – wherever your potential audience can be found.  I suggest coming up with at least 12 potential contacts for each category, starting with media sites.

Finding potential contacts is as simple as doing a Google keyword search and collecting URLs from sites that seem a potential good fit for driving more leads or promoting affiliate trades. When you find a company or organization site that expresses a similar mission, it’s a small hop to reach out to a contact and offer an engaging trade of monetary or intellectual capital.

Start off by establishing common ground and commenting on site content or an article that you read and liked. Introduce yourself, make known your status as an expert in the niche. Then make the pitch – you might offer to write a bi-monthly article for a media site in exchange for a specified trial period in which the media site promotes your company’s banners. This is a good option if you have a reputation in a niche and/or if you notice that a site is not monetizing very well, as they may benefit from your presence.

The other pragmatic option is to offer to pay for banners for a certain period of time on a media site and test out lead generation.

Interview Sites

There is a whole world of podcasts on the Internet, and finding those that attract your target audience is a lucrative way to gain leads. If you are a B2B that offers a software product to help hospitals manage client information, for example, you could search for podcasts that fall under a number of related keywords – healthcare innovation, software engineers, software entrepreneurs, etc. – again anywhere that might lift your clout or get you in front of those who may purchase your product.

Before you hop into an interview, make sure that the podcast spreads its content well and has a solid distribution. Establish a mutual promotion with the interviewer – let them know that you are going to distribute their name and content, as they are clearly in the business of expanding their show.

Email Lists

Email lists are a tool to establish cross-promotions with an affiliate’s program. This will only work if you are selling to an established list and are capable of becoming an affiliate for another entity. If both of you sell products in a similar niche, and you can find a way to drive an affiliate program in exchange for them as an affiliate promoter, this strategy is more than worth trying.

If the cross-promotion is successful, then you have a mutual foundation on which to build an ongoing relationship. Just make sure you stay on top of the communication and acknowledge mutual benefits i.e. “I notice we were successful in generating X leads and opt-ins, why don’t we set up a time to talk about trying another cross promotion.” No one turns you down if you’ve made money for them.

You can also leverage guest posts for an affiliate’s email promotions. For example, if you write for four or five media sites, you can offer to get their blog content featured on one or more of those sites. Offering exposure on a sizable media site can get an affiliate exposure that they would have never gotten otherwise, and in exchange the affiliate can mention your product or content in one of their broadcast newsletters, emails, etc.

Alternatively, you can always pay for a sizable affiliate to do individual email broadcasts, and determine the value by gauging your ROIs.

Social Media

The most obvious approach is to pay directly for posts on a promoter’s site for X times a month. By the end of 30 days, take a look at your leads and assess the worth of the relationship. Another approach is to trade articles that you write and mention/link back to an affiliate, in exchange for guest posts on their site.

More casual business relationships can be leveraged through a simple agreement to trade social media mentions every few weeks, whether that be mentioning one another’s coverage in interviews, news, etc. Actively network and reap more benefits.

Cultivate the Long-Term Win-Wins

This basic organized approach, implemented as a monthly process, can be worth 4x as much as hiring a PR company. Chances are (lucky breaks aside) that you are not going to get into big email lists or media sites the first time around; however, if you follow the process consistently, you will be able to work your way through the approaches on this list, establish profitable affiliate relationships, and generate more leads.

Ultimately, you want to build ongoing relationships with those companies and organizations that have serious distribution powers. Make it a goal, at least monthly, to visit the four categories of lists, and visualize ways that you could leverage some of these approaches for your company and also yield benefits for the property owners. Find ways to cross-pollinate and establish the win-win situations.

As a quick review, the focus here is on cultivating low-energy content trade, bartering, or paid promotion as a consistent PR regimen across all properties that could be relevant to your space, and to get those promotions and trades in front of your target audience.

I hope this tutorial was useful. As always, if you have any particular questions about these strategies or others that you read about on the blog, feel free to reach out!

Daniel Faggella
CLVboost Founder

About The Author

Daniel Faggella

I grow businesses with marketing automation, email marketing, and conversion-rate optimization. I've spoken on business and emerging technologies internationally and at some of America's finest schools (Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc...). My marketing strategies have been featured in the Boston Business Journal, MarketingProfs, Direct Marketing News, and much more. CLVboost is where I share marketing strategies, TechEmergence.com is my major pursuit.