Dominic Pollard, director of content and communications at City Road Communications, explains how and why tech entrepreneurs should get press coverage for the launch of their company. 

Launching a business is complex, demanding and often exhausting. By the time the day finally arrives and a product or service is released to market, there have already been months – if not years – of hard work and money ploughed into the venture.

Tech businesses are certainly no exception. From the moment the concept was born through to the official launch of the technology, there has typically been a strenuous process of R&D, build, beta testing and constant refinement.

It’s only logical then, after all this hard work, that a tech startup would want to create some significant noise around its launch; not simply to celebrate the big day, but to boost the commercial prospects of the business.

Why do PR for the launch of a business?

There are many ways to raise awareness of a business launch. Budget permitting, a tech business can splash out on advertising placements, targeted social media promotions or direct marketing campaigns. But certainly one of the best approaches – although I would say this, of course – is through PR.

On the one hand, paying for an advert on a billboard to coincide with the launch of a business will ensure lots of people see it. It will also reassure them that the business has some weight behind it – billboards don’t come cheap, after all; in fact, most forms of advertising are prohibitively expensive for a startup. But PR, if done right, will build an entirely different relationship with potential customers, and at a fraction of the cost.

When looking to get exposure for the launch of a business, there are few better options than through column inches in the press. Not only is good PR an effective way of getting people to read about the tech startup and what it’s offering, but it also builds trust with the audience.

Positive launch coverage in national, local or trade press will tell a far more comprehensive story about a tech startup and the product or service it provides. What’s more, if journalists at respected publications take the time to research and write about a new business then it sends a powerful message to the readers; aside from the information within the content itself, the audience is far more likely to take a tech startup seriously, respecting its proposition, if they see that a journalist deems it worthy to write about.

Whether it’s consumers, other businesses or investors, PR is a fantastic way to enhance the awareness and reputation of a tech startup from day one. That’s the case for doing launch PR. But doing it well is an all-together different issue.

So, how do you do it?

I have written several pieces for UKTN now, each offering advice on various aspects of PR for small tech businesses. One point remains consistent throughout, and it is particularly pertinent here – don’t get bogged down in the technicalities of your business when launching it to market.

Given the huge number of hours invested into the development of a piece of technology, it is understandable that tech startups want to shout about the inner workings of their new products or services. But the brutal truth is that very few journalists – and, more importantly, even fewer readers – are interested in such precise details.

No, successful launch PR must centre on the problems the new technology stands to solve. Whether it’s a B2B or B2C proposition, a tech startup’s launch PR strategy must explain to journalists how it is going to make things easier, faster, cheaper or better for a particular group of people. Thereafter you can provide the technical information about the product.

A few more things you must do…

Focusing on why a tech startup has spent all that time developing a product is one fundamental piece of advice. But there are other strategic elements that should be incorporated into a launch PR campaign.

First and foremost, make sure that communications with journalists about the launch of a tech startup – from press releases to tailored pitches – include the following key pieces of information:

  • Details about the founders: offer some insight into their backgrounds and what inspired them to launch the business
  • Pictures: most publications that write a story about the launch of a tech startup will want pictures to accompany the piece, either of the tech in action (screenshots, and so forth) or of the founder(s)
  • Provide context: what is the size of the market they are looking to infiltrate; is there any information that demonstrates why people are crying out for this new product; are there any stories in the news right now that demonstrate the relevance of the launch?
  • Funding information: journalists and readers often like to know how the business has got off the ground, whether that’s through self-funding, crowdfunding or if it’s backed by some well-known businesses or investors
  • Quotes: always add personal insights and emotional reactions to the launch of the business to ensure there is plenty of “colour” within the PR communications

Ultimately, all of the above must be compiled prior to starting a launch PR strategy. With the vast majority being extremely busy, journalists do not want to have to chase a business or PR agency for more information to help complete their story – in fact, if they do not have everything they need for a story about the launch of a business, often they simply will not run it.

Provide journalists with everything they are likely to want within the course of your communications with them; they can then choose the bits that are most important to them and their readers.

A press release alone is never enough

One final piece of advice: when doing PR activity around the launch of a new tech startup, it is vital that it extends beyond the mass distribution of a press release.

Firstly, journalists are bombarded with press releases and it’s therefore common that a press release will arrive in their inbox and not get read. Moreover, some publications have a policy that they do not cover news about the launch of a business – there are hundreds of them every day, so as a blanket rule many do not concern themselves with stories about such early stage companies.

A successful PR strategy will encompass several different approaches. For example, pitch journalists the opportunity to have interviews or written Q&As with the founders – this will allow them to determine their own interesting angle regarding the launch of the business. Provide exclusive features about specific issues that relate to the launch of the business; if you have launched a new online estate agent, then propose articles that look the issues of the traditional high street estate agent model and why it needs to change; or, if the tech startup has been founded by two sisters, then pitch a story to journalists about what it is like to start a business with a sibling.

By developing a more complete PR campaign – one that has a press release at its core but also relies on many other types of strategic PR angles – a tech startup will maximise its chances of securing significant coverage in a broader range of titles. In turn it will improve the number of people who hear about the launch, kick-starting the tech startup’s commercial efforts to attract and retain customers.