How to Nail PR for Your Startup When You Can’t Afford an Agency


Get word out on your own.

A laptop, pens, phone and pink Post-it notes

You’ve quit your job, started your own business and blown your budget. But now you want to get the word out without having to spend a small fortune on a snazzy PR agency. The good news is that you can land some good PR all on your own. One thing though, you’ll have to be willing to get your hustle on, work hard and tell a good story.

Network and research

Get to know who the journalists, influencers and publications are in your sector. Start compiling them in a list with their name, contact details (try to find their email address or phone number, but if not, settle for a social media account), their publication, their niche and why they would be interested in you.

This is the stage where you need to be networking. Get along to events – media and industry – and get to know the people who will help push your story to the masses.

As a founder of a startup, you’ll hopefully have a pretty good network of connections through your advisors, investors, mentors and supportive customers. Use these people! You never know who they could connect you with. If you know a PR professional, ask them for 15 minutes of advice. They might even be able to help you find a good angle to take.

Tell your story

Tell the story of the problem you’re solving. Describe the pain point and how your business is the solution. Offer some unique insights and even be a bit contentious. Give them something to talk about!

Write a simple press release with a captivating headline. Keep it short and sweet. Get to the point in the first two sentences and keep your words to a minimum. Journalists and publications receive hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches a day. So what is going to make yours stand out?

And don’t forget to communicate your higher purpose and engage with their emotions.

Engage on social

If you’re connecting on social media, engage with them a bit before going straight for the ask. Follow them, comment on their content, and even share it with your community. Then when you ask them it won’t be totally out of the blue.

Send out your media release

If you’re emailing out your press release, keep track of who you’ve emailed and when you did. Write a personalised email and include the body of the press release below your introduction so they don’t have to open a new attachment if they don’t want to, (but do add your press release as a PDF to your email). Remember to pitch to their unique angle. What’s the benefit for them writing about your business? And don’t forget to track when you sent your first email. Very rarely will you hear back straight away.

Follow up!

Give it a couple of days and then either send a follow-up email. Chances are they read your email, but it got lost in their inbox and they plan on “getting around to it”. A little prompting is a good idea, and you can use this opportunity to add a little more information that will help them write the story.

Leverage your community

It’s easy for you to say your business is great, but it’s even more effective when your customers say it. So if you already have a loyal following, get them spreading the word.

No luck? Rinse and repeat

Try a new angle. Create some fun, engaging content. And keep networking, in person and online.

The PR game can feel intimidating, overwhelming and damn hard. But don’t give up. Build relationships with people in your niche, offer them help and, sooner or later, they could be singing your praises.

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