Start-ups may be experts in selling their services or products locally, but when it comes to launching products or services in new markets, there may be several barriers and unknowns. With this, entrepreneurs may want to enter new markets through digital media relations first.
Launching products and services through digital platforms eliminates large expenses, exhaustion of human resources, and minimises risks.
Advancing your reputation globally via digital channels can provide you with an exponentially wider reach (as there is a greater propensity for media to be shared with a greater audience), provide cross-country branding opportunities:
Speaking engagements and partnerships as well as investment opportunities.
Without the right connections to owners of media platforms (niche and mainstream) in these emerging markets, or the perfect concoction of digital marketing and PR efforts, target audiences in these new markets may never learn about products and services a company has to offer.
Worse, start-ups could be ignored in a brand new market and establish a bad rapport with editors due to horrible public relations efforts (i.e. pitches). Way to go, new kid on the block!
Various media platforms and bloggers that I’ve pitched to over the years including Olusheyi Lawoyin, founder of Ijinle Africa (an online portal based in the US), have provided me with a few robust tips for business owners.
Drawing on Lawoyin’s experience as a niche media owner with receiving several – both good and horrible – pitches from publicists and business owners, in addition to my experience as a publicist and web & content developer for media platforms such as Hearst Digital Media’s first West African media platform, Cosmopolitan Nigeria, has put me in a great position.
I’ve provided five powerful tips for entrepreneurs to advance their reputation globally, using digital media platforms as accelerators.
1. Do Your Research
Using an excel sheet, collect a list of niche and mainstream media platforms that target emerging markets you would potentially like to expand into.
After doing so be certain that contributors and/or editors on each platform would be interested in your story. To be certain, research former articles they’ve published.
When you’re ready to pitch, you should reference previously published articles on the platform to show yourself studied and well-verse in topics that matter to the platform.
2. Tailor Your Story (One size does not fit all)
Lawoyin emphasises (and I agree), “know your market.” Your strategy must be inclusive, but yet with a respect for the nuances that exist among cultures and contexts on the continent. Make a conscious effort to dispel the myth of ‘the single story’; what will work in Kenya might not work in Nigeria.
Let’s look at a continent like Africa. Many companies are entering into that “market”, right? Wrong. They are entering into markets- notice the “s” at the end of markets- meaning plural.
Africa has over 50 countries, with as many as 600 dialects in one country (for example Nigeria), pitches and stories need to be focused and adapted to each market. Not every story that works in Nigeria’s media platforms is going to be relevant to an Ethiopian based media platform.
3. Create Beautiful Visuals (Saved for Web & Devices) for Audience to Share
Media platforms are likely to scoop up your story when your visuals are mighty and strong. Lets face it, when you provide sharable content — the type of content that would increase a platform’s audience engagement — media platforms’ desire to share your content and story will be innate.
In other words, don’t just tell us how innovative your product or service is, show us with a montage of stunning photos, gifs, or appropriate videos. It’s a no-brainer.
4. Provide Heart Wrenching and Eye Popping Statistics
To grab the attention of various platforms (especially from the news angle), provide interesting tips, insights on industry trends, and riveting data, make it useful to the readers (its always about the readers). Content should equal quality not quantity.
With the right equation in mind, you’re bound to gain the attention of the right media platforms. Statistics that trigger an emotional reaction will always do the trick.
Example: Our company provides access to healthy food because X number of children are without food X number of days of the year.
5. Interact with Media Platforms via Social Media
There is nothing worse than requesting press from a platform or contributor that you do not follow or haven’t interacted with on social media.
Beyond receiving placement on media platforms, show your interest and care by communicating with target media platform via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram.
You may do so by liking, sharing, or commenting on content shared.This, however, does not provide you allowance to become a stalker. Make your interactions thoughtful, insightful, and strategic.
6. Attend events where Editors or Contributors Are
Strategically networking and planning business travels around press-riddled events doesn’t hurt. In fact, it could be quite brilliant.
Related: How Not to Commit Reputation Suicide
Create a calendar of events to attend where you know contributors, writers, or editors of media platforms will be. Mingle and make friends with them and watch the relationship flourish.
5 Reasons Your Start-up Isn’t Getting The PR You Need
Understanding and working with the requirements of journalists covering your industry will go a long way toward increasing your company’s visibility.
Getting press coverage for your start-up has become increasingly difficult. With an average of 550 000 new businesses starting each month, you’re facing some serious competition to gain traction with your audience. If you don’t take the right approach to PR, you’ll see your competition pass you by.
Exposure doesn’t happen by chance. Behind every great brand story you see in the media, there is a great PR strategy.
Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes that prevent startups from getting the press coverage they desire.
1. Not taking blogging seriously
Blogging on a regular basis is one of the best ways to impact mainstream discourse. A growing number of journalists and reporters are constantly looking for new and interesting story ideas in the blogosphere. You can make your blog a fresh source of news stories by writing about your story and your industry, and by commenting on different aspects of your business.
To get the right press coverage by blogging, ask yourself why your company exists and what problem your product or service solves. Present your story as human and relatable and make sure it is compelling enough to grab the attention of the media.
2. Not networking with relevant journalists
Networking allows you to build a quality relationship with relevant journalists whom you might not have encountered otherwise.
To get quality press coverage, you need to focus on networking with journalists who cover your niche, and to learn what they write about and what their audience likes to share.
Once you have built a connection, you can pitch them the story of your business.
But before you jump in, keep in mind that journalists hear pitches all the time. If you’re sending generic pitches that focus on only yourself, most likely they’ll ignore your proposal. To make your pitch stand out, tailor your story to fit with their beat.
3. Not making your story exclusive to each journalist
Exclusivity is a strong enticement for a news outlet. Not only will it make them more invested in the story, but it will also entice them to get the jump on their competitors.
Assuming you have exclusive-worthy news, the next thing you must decide is what outlet to offer it to so that it has the best chance of reaching your target audience. The goal is to not always reach the broadest audience but to get your news in front of existing and potential customers.
4. Not using the right tools
To build and maintain a great PR presence, you need to use the right tools; ones that help you amplify and monitor your business’s public appeal.
Some of them are:
- Help a Reporter Out: HARO is one of the easiest free tools when it comes to pitching the media. It lets you gain access to daily emails from journalists seeking interviews.
- Google Keyword Planner: This free tool helps you plan out your blog posts with relevant keywords that people are searching for. Careful word selection will help your blog show up higher in search engines returns.
- BlogAbout Title Generator: My favourite free tool to help me brainstorm catchy titles for reporters.
- Google Alerts: This is a free tool that sends you alerts when your company or competitor is being featured in various media outlets.
5. Not being authentic
Reporters are consistently getting pitched stories from entrepreneurs that want press. To make your pitch stand out, be authentic. The reporters covering news in your industry want to hear your story.
Keep in mind that they need you as much as you need them, and they are actively looking to build relationships with entrepreneurs. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. To get your story covered, you need to find the right reporter and the right publication at the right time and to be authentic.
No matter how good your product is, it may fail if it doesn’t make its way into the public eye. To get the right press coverage, you need to build a strong network of journalists and bloggers writing about your industry.
When you send a pitch, ensure that it stands out and tailor it to fit it with the reporter’s beat. From this list of errors, you can avoid the mistakes preventing you from getting the PR you desire. Fix it and you can increase the visibility of your start-up.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Use Mistaken Inquiries To Drive Awareness Of Your Business
Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.
At times, we receive inquiries or communication from people seeking products/services that aren’t in our line of work. It can also be someone who has mistaken you for a certain company that you’re not. It’s easy to dismiss such inquiries, by simply saying you’re unable to assist the person.
Don’t miss an opportunity to publicise your company, treat the enquirer as one of your clients. Take a proactive approach, use this as an opportunity to inform them about your company and the services/products that you offer.
In doing this you are building a reputation for your brand, and introducing your corporation to someone who might have never known about. It might happen in future, that the said person needs your products/services when they remember how you professionally assisted them, then they will come to you.
Another possibility is that at that moment they are connected to someone who needs your services and they don’t know anyone in your field. Should you play your cards correctly, you might gain a client for the future or the present.
Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.
Your response should be structured in a manner that will make the enquirer feel respected and not embarrassed about the mistake they’ve made. When responding to emails ensure that you do so quickly. Sympathise that you cannot assist them because your company only specialises in different services/products. State clearly what is it that you provide and how you do it.
2Show how you solve problems
In the process of explaining your services/products, demonstrate how you can solve people’s problems or meet their needs. This means that you describe your products/services in detail. However, your description should be a comprehensive summary, consider that the enquirer has a life to live.
3Make your brand visible
When responding to emails, remember to include your logo, motto and other things that your brand is identified by. Your offices should be designed keeping this in mind when someone walks in, they should immediately see your identity.
If you have samples to give, kindly offer them to the enquirer. Should you have demonstrations/presentations that you do, politely inform the enquirer about them. Let them know how they can get hold of this.
Related: How To Impress The Press
5Provide them with an opportunity to come back to you
You can share your business card with someone you meet, this should have all your contact detail, i.e. telephone, fax, e-mail and social media details. In an email, these should be nicely positioned at the end of your email, as part of your final greeting.
6Refer them to a relevant business
Should you know of any company that offers the services/products they need, refer them to it without hesitation. If possible, provide them with contact details and a contact person to assist them.
How You Can Avoid The ‘Facebook Effect’
Don’t let perceived realities – of your business or those of your competitors – derail your strategies.
As a young entrepreneur, I received my first bit of publicity from a daily in Durban. It was massively exciting and stroked my ego tremendously because after all, what I had achieved was considered newsworthy enough to be published in a newspaper.
There was a big photo of me on page four, with my interview where I talked about the success of a promotion I had conceived and implemented. My friends saw the article and called to congratulate me, and in my distant social circles people discussed my story and congratulated me too.
Perception versus reality
What they didn’t know was that my business was barely breaking even at the time. The perception of my success was very different to my reality. I proudly showed the article to my mentor (naively expecting a pat on the back) and instead he asked: “Do you believe what they say?” “What do you mean?” I said. “Do you believe all the things the journalist has written about you in the article?” he asked again.
I didn’t answer him because I knew deep down that they weren’t all true. I wasn’t the hugely successful businessman that I was portrayed as in the article.
“If you believe all the good things the press write about you, you’ll also believe all the bad things they say. Be grateful for the press, but do not let it govern your emotions.”
Beware curated reality
In today’s era of social media, fake news, memes, and overly filtered photos, it’s very easy to become envious of the perceived lives that others showcase.
Much like the envy we experience when scrolling through our friends’ posts of their expensive destination holidays — where they can be seen showing off their tanned, ripped bodies while sipping expensive champagne — the same type of envy occurs between business owners when they scroll through competitor’s company timelines and witness their competitors winning great awards, attending glitzy launches and receiving kudos from the press.
In my experience, the perception created by these often-boastful social media posts is seldom close to reality. Like the article on my Durban business, what my friends perceived was nowhere near my financial reality.
Be cognisant and sceptical of this curated reality, so that you as a business do not react in one of two ways to a competitor’s posts:
- Don’t try to emulate their strategy based on what seems to be working
- Don’t end up feeling depressed based on your jealousy of this curated reality.
Instead, your reaction to witnessing these posts should be to:
- Frame your competitors’ posts simply as marketing. They have carefully curated these posts to only show followers the great things about their businesses, products and services. The ‘make-up’ hides the imperfections.
- Use your emotions to make a change. Use the energy their posts ignite inside of you — not the content they project — and pump that energy into YOUR strategy to reinforce it.
- Drive your differentiator harder. Make sure your business stands out as being unique and a thought leader in its industry and not one attempting to copy others. Your differentiator should not be influenced by what you are seeing either positively or negatively.
Always remember, your competitors’ posts represent selective truth-telling because they curate what they want you to see online.
They will never post when times are tough and they are losing clients and not making a profit at the end of the month. Don’t believe everything you see, and most importantly, don’t let these ‘perceived realities’ affect you or your business strategy in any way.
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