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A Guide to PR for Startups (craigkerstiens.com)
135 points by hackerews 645 days ago | hide | past | web | 20 comments | favorite

This post is a good primer on PR basics. If you'd like to read more on the subject, I (also) wrote a book about startup PR with plenty of examples (and a few jokes).

The Burned-Out Blogger's Guide to PR: http://www.amazon.com/The-Burned-Out-Bloggers-Guide-PR-ebook...

(I used to write for TechCrunch and have subsequently done PR consulting for startups. Feedback on the book has been quite positive; if you read it and wish it covered something, let me know!)

I added it to my wishlist based on this recommendation:


Jason Kincaid's book is really really good

- nikcub

I second the recommendation, it was fairly short, an entertaining read, solid tips and no fluff


I read this book. It is a fun read and full of useful information.

Why'd you stop writing for TC?

He explained it in the title of the book. :) he was burned out.

This is a pretty good write up, although from the editor's point of view (which ultimately is the one that counts if PR is going to get results), it could be tightened up a bit.

I was the editor of Dr. Dobb's and am currently the editor of Java Magazine (from Oracle). I get hundreds of pitches a month. The triage greatly favors outreach about products in my site/magazine's wheelhouse and initiated by someone I know. The latter bit is key. If my contact is at a PR agency that I've worked with before, I know they know my coverage area and my interests. But mostly important, I know their client will be prepared.

This means that if I ask for a demo, the guy doing it knows how to do a demo. I also know the tech guy and the marketing guy on the call have a modicum of understanding about how the conversation goes. (For example, not saying "we were hoping to get some coverage because we just signed an ad contract with you guys.") And finally, I know the agency will not contact me unless the company truly has something to say.

Because of these factors, I know that there's a high likelihood that engaging with the start-up will result in useful content for my readers.

In contrast, dealing with an unknown company and unknown PR person, it's a crapshoot. I can spend a bunch of time and have nothing to show for it.

So, when I'm under the gun (which is most of the time), I will always favor the interactions that are most likely to result in content I can use.

Thanks for the extra context. I've not been on the other side of the table, but in a way this absolutely makes sense. It's nice to know that engaging in a good form with an agency and showing up better prepped is found valuable to editors and writers.


This is a good introduction to PR. I've worked as both a reporter and PR person, and I would add that PR faces a relational bottleneck. Most startups opt for PR agencies because those agencies, if they are effective, have established relationships with journalists. Tech reporters, as you can imagine, are overwhelmed with pitches, with tons of startups fighting for the same oxygen. Startup CEOs need to think good and hard about how interesting their company's story is for strangers. Creating a good story is like creating a good product -- it appeals to people on some fundamental level. A really good story solves both the reader's problem of looking for valuable information, and a reporter's problem of justifying her existence to her editor and fulfilling her quota for the day. I wrote an ebook about this for anyone interested, hosted at Celery: https://www.trycelery.com/

I think it helps to think of your story as a second product that sells the first. PR has a hell of a lot of moving parts, and could definitely be better serviced if you can provide for all of them. I like that it's been mentioned how many people's problems it has to solve. That's a really good start to outrospecting for this goal.

Totally agree. It's a second product, which a supply chain that travels from real events through a CEO and PR person to a reporter's desk, and a product manager, who is usually that PR person. The one other thing I would add is that there's a real temptation to overmanage the message you send to reporters, which leads to too much business-speak where everything is sunshine and roses. The best stories are frank, they involve struggle and color, and they usually piss someone off.

I also wrote a guide to PR for startups, that's more "DIY for free" than about hiring an agency. I've never had any trouble getting plenty of write-ups (from a couple dozen major blogs/sites for average products to the cover of Time Magazine for another).

I used to sell the book, but it's online for free http://austenallred.com/user-acquisition/book/chapter/press/

Here is Indiegogo's take on PR with crowdfunding campaigns: https://learn.indiegogo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IGG_C...

That being said, PR is spikey (traffic wise), also don't expect millions of dollars to pour in after you announce your product. The news cycle is quick and your can be yesterday's news in hours. The ones that stay relevant is what they do with that traffic after. Make sure you have systems in place to collect emails or track who your potential leads are.

PR is a better tool for branding your company, so when a VC wants to see how the public receives you or a customer is deciding to buy your product and wants to research if you're a legitimate company. "Oh! XYZ publication demoed the product and it looks legit."

Thanks for sharing the ebooks @vonnik and @austenallred

> "However, it’s of note an agency doesn’t alleviate you of doing work, nor should you want them to handle all parts of it."

Most important part in my mind. The effort that you put into helping a PR agency iterate on pitches will be the biggest difference between getting good results and being out a serious amount of time and money.

This is the same Craig Kerstiens as Postgres Craig Kerstiens. I didn't realize he was into this kind of stuff, too.

It's also the same Craig Kerstiens as Barbecue Craig Kerstiens: http://www.plantandplate.com/recipe-for-bbq-cheap-meat-dry-r....

I'm not worthy.

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