What works well in the local market will not necessarily work when it comes to scaling internationally. There are numerous reasons for this: not understanding the business culture of the particular country you are looking to expand to, cultural and language barriers, not being aware of market developments or of the competition, etc. These very fine lines play a crucial role when operating internationally, which are also applicable to Public Relations.

With PR, the aim is to build a positive image for a company or brand. PR builds and then protects a reputation. Key in PR is the intention of earning trust from audiences by making use of third-party actors. PR and journalists go together – PRs are concerned with attracting the attention of journalists and earning a place in the media with stories about their company. And journalists are always on the lookout fur trusted sources for interesting stories.

To kickstart your PR journey, we reflect on some of the most common mistakes startups and entrepreneurs make.

  1. Confusing PR with marketing and advertising

People often seem to confuse PR with marketing or advertising. This confusion makes it difficult for these companies to make the most of the marketing tools at their disposal. To make matters even more confusing, several agencies providing a full scope of marketing services are labelling themselves as PR agencies. Frequently, their strength actually lies in providing digital advertising, social media management, events management, and other marketing services that have little to do with PR, something clients don’t always understand.

In a nutshell, PR deals with reputation. And, like in life, as a company, a reputation cannot be bought. It is earned. PR means a company opens itself up to the world of the media. It is the job of the PR person to do this in the most advantageous way for the company so that it results in third-party validation.

Seemingly hybrid solutions, such as advertorials, are actually only advertising. By paying for an advertorial, no thinking or due diligence is done by the journalist. There is no real validation or trust. It’s simply another format of advertising.

  1. Thinking you can buy news articles (spoiler alert: you can’t)

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that you can simply buy articles (and journalists!) in the top publications (without specifying that it was “sponsored” or “paid by”).

It is important to remember that journalists and your reputation and image cannot be bought. You can use money around you to help build an image, but real credibility will come from merit, not money.

Another common mistake that goes with it is expecting the news article to have links to your website or product, or have a clear call to action. A lot of media publications avoid providing any links due to their editorial guidelines unless these provide informational value. Again, they are doing journalism, not advertising.

  1. Not having a clear goal and strategy

Before doing any media outreach, you need to have a clear strategy and be very specific about who you are targeting, what problem are you trying to solve (and think whether it actually needs to be solved). Some of the things to keep in mind:

  1. Not having a press kit and a press page

Perhaps the most common mistake is not having a press kit and a press page, which are essential to making the job easier for journalists. They are under immense pressure to produce good quality news pieces. These items will help you to communicate directly with journalists and will save both your and their time when landing those desired news pieces.

Your press kit should consist of 1 x company backgrounder (straightforward, factual, but exciting to read and written in media-friendly tone), 1 x founder bio (which should give a whole story in short about who is behind the company, what is his/her vision and where is he/she headed with the business). Besides this, do not underestimate the power of good quality imagery (it is worth investing in!), which should tell your story and showcase subtly your product.

Having a press room on your website will – in the future – help you with getting more attention. Besides having a downloadable press kit, always add media logos and links where you landed news pieces. It should also have your press releases and, most importantly, correct and relevant contact details.

  1. Not understanding the world of media and how it works

One of the most important things to remember that journalists are people and should not be treated as tools. It is all about building and sustaining long-lasting relationships and relationships go both ways.

It is likely that your press release/news briefing will not get picked up by a journo right away and there might be numerous reasons to that:

a) time constraints (journalists are under pressure to produce good quality pieces

b) overfilled inbox with, most of the time, irrelevant pitches: imagine TechCrunch receiving a brief about new lipstick! However, many journalists do appreciate a follow up if the news is relevant.

c) not the right time (sometimes this has to do with the news agenda).

Besides this, always keep an eye on what’s happening in the world: it is the relevancy to what is going on around us that helps to land great news articles.

A few simple rules to remember:

 

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Julija (JJ) Jegorova is the Founder and CEO of Black Unicorn PR – London based Public Relations agency, specialising in tech startups and scaleups.