As a travel tech startup entrepreneur, there’s certainly no lack of tasks that need to be attended to. When you’re not busy fighting fires, you’re thinking of the next product development cycle, preparing for an industry event, or planning how to scale up your customer acquisition strategy.
In the midst of all the immediate chaos, public relations is something that demands your urgent attention. That being said, you probably feel like you don’t have the time, resources or budget to invest. On top of it all, the travel tech space already has some big players fighting for the spotlight.
So how do you gain the upper hand and increase exposure for your travel tech venture?
In this post (Part 1 of 2) we’re breaking it down into actionable steps your organization can take towards a successful press run. That being said, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that in today’s world, where over 2,000 active travel and mobility tech startups have been founded globally, and over $31 billion has been invested by venture capitalists, PR is something a disruptive travel startup simply cannot afford to ignore.
Great PR has often resulted in a surge of new users, funding, hiring and sometimes even acquisitions, and is, therefore, a solid PR strategy is a must-have, even at the early stages.
The good news is that all experts seem to agree on one thing. Spending a ton of money on PR simply isn’t the right strategy, especially if you’re in the early stages of your startup.
All you really need is some expert guidance, and your PR strategy can create serious waves, regardless of your overall marketing budget.
Here are some proven strategies that we use at BIGINTRO, and have been used by other successful travel startups all over the world to crack the black box that is public relations.
CATEGORISE AND ORGANISE
The absolute best starting point is to think very carefully about what industry your startup would most resonate in. In other words, what is the area of interest in your startup?
You’re probably thinking: That’s easy, we’re in the travel or hospitality industry. But in most cases, you would be wrong.
Your starting point needs to be thought through from multiple perspectives, ideally as many as three. For example, say your startup includes an AI bot that understands what your user wants from travel on a psychological level, then you probably fall under three different categories.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Immediately this means you may interest two or three different types of journalists and that broadens your PR horizons.
This also means that your story or ‘pitch’ needs to include trends and highlights of those specific industries and how your solution helps solve some of the main challenges.
Now that you have a general idea of the writers that would be interested in your story, the next step is finding out who they are. To crack this task, you can set up Google alerts to get updates about articles from your target categories. Another important tip we should mention is to create lists of various words and topics to keep track of within your industry. Think broadly about what keywords would be most relevant for your startup.
This immediately puts the top writers in these niches on your radar. Keep a close watch on the kinds of articles people are writing to give you an understanding of who would be a good fit for your startup and story. As an added bonus, this will also keep you updated on the latest trends and happenings in your sector so it’s a win-win.
This one is fairly easy; but like all the other steps, needs a systematic and consistent approach. Some writers have their contact information in the article itself. In most cases, it’s an email if not there’s a twitter handle you can follow.
It’s always a good idea to actually build a relationship with journalists and media prior to pitching them a news story, as they will already have somewhat of an idea of who you are.
Create an excel sheet with all the journalists relevant to you. Categorise them based on their niche, size of the site (based on Alexa rank) and on why they are a good fit for your startup.
Once you have a distribution list ready to go, use it to create different email pitches introducing yourself and your startup for each category and style.
MailerLite or Mailchimp (free for initial use) are two of the best platforms to use if you’re thinking about reaching multiple journalists at once, however, in our personal experience, this isn’t the way to go. Creating a personalized email per contact will definitely be far more effective than cold mass emails.
If you don’t have a contact email, follow them on Twitter, try to get them to follow you back and then start a conversation. Linkedin shouldn’t be neglected either. We’re seeing more and more professionals spending time daily on LinkedIn, so you haven’t logged into LinkedIn in a while, now’s the time.
At this stage, the goal isn’t to get journalists to push them to publish anything. Your goal is to introduce yourself and your startup. The idea is to start building a media network and influencers whom you can leverage to your startup’s advantage at the right time.
We’ve talked about how to approach PR in terms of strategy and how to go about setting up a base and building your network.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about the what your PR story should be, how to project the most compelling picture for your company and how to time your press releases launch just right.
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