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PR for startups is challenging. Most of us don’t start out with media industry contacts and it takes a long time to nurture those connections. To top it off, you have to compete with stories about sex, violence and celebrities – all of which might make the story of your startup as riveting as a mud-pie. So naturally, when we found out that notable journalist, Rick Spence was sharing advice on PR for Startups at Startup Canada’s first ever web conference, we jumped at the chance to learn some PR hacks for Wagepoint. To put it into context, Rick is the former editor and publisher of PROFIT and one of his current gigs is a weekly column on Entrepreneurship for the Financial Post. So, he clearly knows a little something about how to get your PR ducks in a row, especially with regards to startups. In fact, we found Rick’s particular brand of No BS tactics and tips so useful that we decided to summarize it for our readers. Here are the Top 5 Tips on PR for Startups courtesy Rick Spence. 1) Adopt a strategy – While it may seem tempting to buy a list of media contacts and blast your press release to all of them, you will likely have very low pickup using this technique. Journalists get hundreds, if not thousands of press releases per day and it is more than likely that yours will get lost in the noise. Instead, start out by figuring out what publications write about topics in your industry and shortlist the journalists writing these pieces. Remember, all publications may not be a good fit for your business because they may not cater to the audience you are trying to target. So, always start with your target audience in mind and narrow down the list of suspects from there. 2) Get to the point, and fast – When sending in your press release, in most cases, you have about 5 seconds to get journalists interested enough to write about you. This means you have to be able to articulate what your press release is about very quickly. Make sure your headline captures the essence of your press release and you put the most informative content right at the beginning. Add a quote from the director or CEO and a snippet about the company at the bottom so that the journalists have everything they need at their fingertips. 3) Storytelling – Journalists have a love/ hate relationship with press releases. They do depend on press releases, but don’t necessarily like to admit it because of their natural preference to source their own stories. However, telling a compelling story about your company, product or industry is a good way to increase the odds of getting profiled by a journalist. Instead of straight-up product pitches consider a piece that examines the trends in your industry or anything that can add value to the readers. This way you have a situation where all three parties benefit from the article – the journalist, the reader and you. 4) Build Relationships – Journalists often like to hear from the entrepreneur themselves rather than a representative like a PR company because many times, the entrepreneur themselves make better stories. Take a journalist out for coffee and find out about what they like to write about and if you can help them with anything. You may find the time invested in just 3 or 4 relationships will yield better benefits in the long-term than trying to spread yourself too thin. Also, be prepared when a journalist finally decides to call on you, ready to print something about your company. Make sure to pander to their schedule because they are typically on a deadline and always have your fully crafted story on hand so that you control what is being said about you in the media. 5) Be Cautious – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the media is your friend. If you do or say something wrong, they will not hesitate to crucify you because the media thrives on conflict. A journalist is well within his rights to publish something even if you say it is off-the-record, their first loyalty is to a good story. So be aware and be on your guard when you talk to the media or you might find yourself in an uncomfortable spot. Have you ever had success with PR for your startup? Share your experiences in the comments below!