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Shine your way into the bucks: How to use PR to attract funding for your start-up


Whether you’re in the middle of developing a game-changing app, a new must-have product or savvy service, if you’re working on a start-up, chances are you’re operating on a very lean budget.

With funding being one of the primary challenges most start-ups face, how can you get the word out to the masses about what you’re working on when your budget is so tight?

Building a strong media profile by gaining coverage in a variety of media is one of the best ways to gain visibility for your start-up.

The right kind of visibility is crucial to key to attracting funding via investors and customers. This is where strategic PR fits in. It’s affordable and has a higher return on investment and considerably more credibility than paid advertising.

Using PR to get into the media doesn’t cost anything. You don’t need to pay for Adwords, you don’t need a Facebook paid campaign, you just need to come up with newsworthy ideas and pitch them to journalists.

So how do you ensure your start-up story is picked up by the media? Bombarding journalists with impersonal, irrelevant media releases is a sure-fire way to go unnoticed.

Instead, use these five tips to guide you:

1. Identify your targets

Many start-ups fall into the trap of thinking ‘the more the merrier’ and pitch their awesome new business idea to as many journalists as possible, however, it’s best to only target relevant outlets and people.

For instance, if you’re in the tech space, then focus on developing relationships with tech journalists and media outlets that publish tech news.

Research the publications relevant to the industry you are in and also the media your target audience reads. This way you’ll be able to familiarise yourself with particular journalists and the topics they are likely to cover.

If you notice one particular journalist writes consistently about sustainable tech products, and your start-up operates in this space, then this is a clear connection worth noting and following up on.

2. Pitch perfectly

So you’ve identified some key publications and journalists that you would like to pitch to – where to now?

Reaching out to journalists can be a challenge as they are often inundated with emails, media releases and event invites. Cut through by personalising all communications.

While this may take more time, it will prove more fruitful than sending an impersonal, cut and paste email (which will probably be deleted without being read).

Make mention that you’ve noted they are writing about the space you work in, introduce yourself and your start-up, note your point of difference and what you’re offering as a story.

3. Share your expertise

Consider widening your circle of influence by contributing expert articles to relevant media. Many publications are open to receiving well-written articles from industry experts as long as they aren’t promotional.

Share your story, experiences, insights and knowledge. This is a great way to position yourself as an expert and build trust with your target audience.

4. Use media releases tactically

Media releases should only be used to communicate significant developments and news. By all means, craft a media release if you’re launching into a new market, have won a big award or are announcing a new round of funding.

But resist sending out media releases for small updates and events that aren’t newsworthy, otherwise your media releases will lose impact end up deleted by the journalist.

5. Speak up

Sharing your start-up journey with others via speaking engagements at industry events and meet ups is not only a great way to influence, guide and connect with others, you’ll also be able to introduce your start-up to a whole new audience and position yourself as an expert in your field at the same time.

When it comes to attracting funding for your start-up, your success lies with your credibility and reputation as a successful entrepreneur as well as recognised potential for your business idea.

One of the best ways to achieve this and reach investors with your message is using public relations. It is one of the strongest and most effective ways to showcase you and your start-up as an investment worth backing.

Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business.