5 Ways That Will Help Your Startup Rock PR (without chasing media coverage)


If there’s anything else startup founders want more than customers, it’s publicity. 

They want mentions, references, and links from TechCrunch, Tech in Asia, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Mashable, and many others. It’s no surprise then that writers contributing to those sites get bombarded with requests and bribes in return for an inclusion in an article. 

But here’s the catch: A single media mention isn’t going to have as major of an effect on your marketing as you might think. 

Sure, some people might visit your site. Some might even remember your brand name. But this effect will wane, fast. In a long run, chasing media mentions is probably one of the least effective startup PR strategies.

And if you’re wondering what you should do instead, keep on reading. I’ll show you 6 strategies that will help you increase your brand awareness… over and over again. 

Strategy #1. Leverage Connections with Industry Influencers

Influencer marketing is a big thing among marketers these days and rightly so.  For example, customers are more likely to trust a new company if it was recommended by someone they know and respect. 

Brands have caught on to this as well. According to Tomoson, businesses are making up to $20 per dollar spent on influencer marketing. 51% of companies admit to seeing better results from influencer marketing than other channels.  It’s no surprise that influencer marketing tops the list of the most cost-effective customer acquisition channels…


(image source)

And here lies your first PR opportunity:
Aligning yourself with people that your audience follows and admirers is a surefire way to get your company noticed. 

We use this strategy all the time here at SEMrush. We connect and slowly develop deep relationships with influencers that later result in coverage and promotion we could have never dreamt of. 

But we always start small… 

Instead of trying to get an influencer to take part in a major promotional campaign, we start off with a smaller project.  For example, we approached Mike Moran, the famous SEO expert, asking him to take part in our “SEMrush PRO talks” series. Once we did the interview, we invited him as a guest expert on our Twitter Chat. Naturally, many of Mike’s followers joined the chat as well. 

These small steps led to bigger ones, with Mike now being a frequent guest in our SEMrush webinars and Twitter chats. Read more about Influence Marketing in my latest post for Foundr Mag

Strategy #2. Promote Your Startup at Important Industry Events

Industry events are an amazing opportunity to learn something new, keep up with new trends, and get inspired by leading figures. Besides all of this, they also provide a chance to promote your startup. 

Events give you a chance to meet your audience, users, and influencers in person, build connections, and develop relationships you could take advantage of in the future.
Here are a couple of tips on how to use events for PR:

Always create an attendee profile. Of course, if an event organizer offers that option. 

Pick a couple of presentations that relate to your product or brand, research their topics, and prepare questions you could ask during a Q&A session. This will help you get noticed by the influencers and allow you to connect with them later on in the lobby. 

Schedule meetings with interesting people prior to the event. Reach out to them and ask for a couple of minutes of their time. Give a reason why the meeting will be beneficial for both parties and you should have no problems with them accepting. 

Interview people. Many industry leaders will be happy to elaborate on the topic of their speech and more than willing to do it if their advice will be later published online. 

And of course, speak at events. After all, nothing beats speaking as a publicity opportunity. 

Bonus: If you don’t have the budget to attend big events (and let’s face it, those can be costly), seek out online events you could speak at. These events often have more relaxed rules on whom they invite to participate. Often, you don’t need to be a big name to sign up to speak at these. As long as you can prove that you have good expertise and pitch an interesting topic, you shouldn’t have a problem.  

Strategy #3. Leverage Your Blog

I’m sure you have heard every possible argument in favor of having a business blog already.  You know it could help raise your authority, brand awareness, and generate leads. 

But there is another reason why you should leverage your company’s blog. 

You see, a growing number of journalists review blogs on a daily basis to find interesting stories, angles, data, and stats. 

They scout the web, searching for new and up-to-date information to enrich their stories. And by publishing newsworthy content, you can turn your blog into a great pipeline directed towards interested media outlets. 

Carefully plan and craft your content based on a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs. One of the best tools you can utilise for successful content creation is Google Analytics. In this article, you will find tips on how to use Google Analytics to improve your Content Strategy. 

And don’t forget to distribute your content through all marketing channels! You can read more about content distribution strategies in this article. 

Strategy #4. Offer Value to Journalists

Try as you might, you can’t force a journalist to cover your brand or product, but you can provide them with some incentives which could make them reconsider. 

It could be offering an expert opinion on industry trends, sharing personal experiences, providing proprietary data, and even converting it into an infographic, which would add visual content to enrich the piece. 

Journalists are constantly in search for sources, and if you engage them with your response, they’ll most likely reference your startup in return. 

Strategy #5. Submit Guest Posts to Popular Websites

I admit, guest posting is an old trick in the PR book. 

But it works. 

And that’s partially because guest blogging is mutually beneficial for both the publication and the startup.  Here is an excellent article on how to find guest blogging opportunities.
The startup gets an opportunity to get its name out while sharing some useful advice with people who could potentially become its users. The publication on the other hand, gets quality content written from a new perspective. 

That’s the reason why, Harvard Business Review,, Forbes, Fast Company and many others still accept authentic and engaging content from outside contributors. 

When using this strategy, don’t forget to review the publication’s submission guidelines and submit valuable content. Then in time, you will see your name appearing on the largest sites, building your authority and spreading information on your brand. 

And as a conclusion, I would like to share some practical advice. Track who is mentioning your brand, keep an eye on competitor’s PR activities, learn about their successful content ideas and utilise them in your campaigns. You can learn more about brand monitoring here

What do you think?
Are there any other PR strategies you know that could work as a substitute to chasing media mentions?

Let us know in the comments.  



About the author

Anna Lebedeva

Anna Lebedeva

Anna is the Global Public Relations Manager at SEMrush. She is a huge digital media, tech, and web culture fan.