Here it is. My annual public relations tips advice story geared towards technology startup founders and public relations practitioners. Times have changed with press interviews and events going online and ongoing industry consolidation. Most of these tips are evergreen so if you are reading them in 2022, the majority will still apply.
- Use listacles and other evergreen content marketing tools often. Listacles like “3 ways to Be a Better Boss” and “10 Tried and True Methods for a Smoother Digital Transformation” share better on social media than say a software product update.
- Add product reviews as part of your PR tactic repertoire. My favorite B2C technology media outlet is CNET. I placed a few reviews over the years including one for PumpUp community fitness app. CNET has great reach and the staff members are respectful.
- Write exceptional press releases. Don’t make them too long and fight the urge to include meaningless drab quotes. If your CEO is asking you to insert jargon like “mission critical” explain why you should not.
- Build new relationships with journalists. Try to find ways to connect a bit on a personal level but in a respectful normal manner. Maybe you ask an authentic question via Twitter. Don’t try this with the cranky ones though. Warning. Most people hate Twitter DMs.
- Create a tight smart media list. I was hired as a consultant by a Silicon Valley PR agency that pulled one of those big 100 item lists from Cision. I quickly identified 10 key writers I liked from the big list, and confirmed they were still in their roles via their Twitter profiles. I scheduled an interview that same day. It was with Venturebeat and the story was excellent.
- Identify your best story angle. Is the company the first, best or biggest at something? If yes and you use the angle, make sure you have a credible source backing up the claim.
- Pitch the story at the right time of the day. You can sometimes find a comment from a writer online about when they loved to be pitched, e.g. 4 to 5 pm their time. If you have news to release and want to reach the East Coast folks first thing and you are in California, consider working super early morning your time to reach out.
- Keep in mind diversity and inclusion (D&I). Edelman PR which has 95,000 Twitter followers has consistently only spread messages that push “D&I” in the past week. If you are reading this months or years from now, it’s the middle of September 2020.
- Read PR news and trends websites at least monthly, e.g. Ragan’s PR Daily is highly regarded. I like Ragan’s different sections like writing. I just figured out The Holmes Report is now PRovoke. A little tricky to say and remember but catchy.
- Secure your brand name across all social media platforms. If you are starting out in PR consulting and pick an LLC brand name, e.g. mine is Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC then immediately take “ownership” of the Twitter profile with that name if possible.
- Do proactive PR so your image is built before an image crisis hits. When there is a scandal e.g. employee lawsuit or patent infringement complaint and those are common in tech, if your company already has a good reputation you may do better in court.
- Track what’s being said about your company and competitors. Google Alerts is the least expensive way to do this. It’s also very good. If you want to supercharge your efforts, pay some bucks for Meltwater. That system gives you a nice overview of almost real time of how much attention you’ve garnered.
- Have a company policy about what your employees can post online. When I was with IBM social business business unit, the company was the first in the industry to set up community posting guidelines.
- Read inspirational writings like books by Guy Kawasaki. I’m a fan of Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global site. She always pushes the unique message that getting enough sleep will make your life much higher quality. My PR friend Libra White at Lam Research always touts business books via audio. She can listen during long drives.
- Know how you compare to the competition. Use a spreadsheet if needed. Don’t say, “We have no competitor.” That’s annoying. Does anyone have no competitor? Once you know the competition you can do better PR for your company.
- Be present on Twitter and make people can find you there. Build up minimum 100 followers. I recently met with a PR director of a tech company. I could not find him on Twitter. Respect was lost as a result.
- Be aware of other major news at the time you are pitching yours. I just read a months old posting by Lumina PR about a webinar that featured speakers like Eric Savitz from Barrons. The topics which were always present at the time were coronavirus, racial unrest and the upcoming presidential election. By the way, now in September it’s still true. Question for tech PR buddies: have you ever done a product launch on Apple Computer announcement day? That’s always “fun.” Tip: pick a different day than Apple news day.
- Take a PR-related class every couple of years, e.g. through Coursera, which is free learning. The one I’m looking at now is from Ivy League school University of Pennsylvania. It’s on influencer marketing. Apparently I’m a ranked influencer in future of work, number 89 out of 100 on social media (Onalytica 2018 report: download the report to see my name.). Now I’d like to learn more about doing some influencing for pay beyond what I’ve done with Microsoft’s former agency not too long ago. I blogged on their collaboration website working for 1000Heads. They post my stories with Microsoft Teams adds. They paid me for writing.
- Do PR for yourself once in a while. If you are a PR pro working for or consulting for a company, get some press for yourself too. Personal branding is good for your CEO and your own business and/or career. I’ve worked late nights and weekends on my own press and have built up a few nice stories, e.g. I made a list in a Ragan story by Frank Strong. It was on the top underrated PR professionals to follow on Twitter. I was number three out of 50.
- Always subscribe to a top business journal; and change up subscriptions once in a while. I like to switch from Wall Street Journal to New York Times, like, one year get NYT and the next subscribe to WSJ. Note that people who work for PR agencies or big corporations with deep pockets can subscribe to many. As a freelancer it’s hard to budget for all of them. I like that Business Insider is online only.
- Update your headshot photos. Schedule a new headshot for your CEO and yourself if you haven’t done that in the past five years. Paul Sakuma is a quality Silicon Valley photographer for hire. He used to be the local Associated Press wire photographer in San Jose. Also I’d like to thank Paul Sakuma for donating a bunch of time to nonprofit VLAB a while back. I’m VLAB’s main blogger and he took some awesome executive headshots for us. Mark Hundley is also one of my favorite photographers.
Read this PR tips list every once in a while to refresh your PR game. Despite life’s roller coaster ups and downs right now which include California fires and pandemic office closures, if you work smartly and stay flexible you’ll do quite well in your career.
Michelle McIntyre, founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC is an IBM vet and award winning Silicon Valley PR diva. She’s the volunteer media relations lead for Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council of Boy Scouts of America and ranked 89 out of 100 on Onalytica’s 2018 Future of Recruiting influencers list. She was named 2017 VLAB volunteer of the year. Follow her on Twitter @FromMichelle.