Raising seed stage capital to launch your business into the world is no small feat.
So once you do, you want people to know about it.
That’s where PR comes in. Announcing your seed funding is an important and strategic step to take. Do it right and you’ll get the media coverage and exposure to help generate buzz and momentum for your business.
But how do you have a successful startup PR campaign?
Should you hire an agency or DIY your funding announcement?
Omri Yacubovich, co-founder and CEO of Lama AI, decided on the latter. After closing their $9 million seed funding round, led by Hetz Ventures, Omri took the reins to develop and launch an effective and successful PR campaign to both the Israeli and international media in October 2022.
Here’s what you need to consider when deciding how to run your own startup PR launch plus 7 practical tips from Omri on how to do so.
Timing Your Startup PR Launch
You’ve raised the money, but what’s the motivation to get the word out? It can’t be just for bragging rights or to boost your ego.
A PR launch needs to be strategically timed so that it positively impacts your business. Omri and his team at Lama AI didn’t rush the PR launch after raising $9 million because he wanted to show investors, customers, and partners that the company was in a strong place, backed by Venture Capitalists (VCs).
In addition to having the right motivation behind your startup PR, you also need the practical details in place, such as your website, brand, and PR kit.
When trying to decide exactly when to begin a startup PR campaign, ask these two questions:
- What are you afraid of? Launching too early creates risk around competitors copying your ideas or applying premature pressure and competition. You want to make sure you’re in a strong and stable position before letting competitors know what you’re up to.
- What will you gain? You may not fear anything related to launching your campaign, but determine if it will actually benefit you. If you start sharing on LinkedIn or other platforms without the backing of a full PR campaign, you might not get the impact you’re looking for.
These two questions can help you select the right time for a PR launch. And, in general, Omri recommends sharing only on a “need to know” basis. Keep some of your cards close to your chest and share only what needs to be shared.
DIY Funding Announcement vs. Agency
Omri’s a busy person, so his initial plan was to save some time and hire a PR agency for their launch.
But in Omri’s experience, these are the two key publications that any startup needs to secure for their initial PR campaign. And, because he had successfully pitched them directly before, he decided on a DIY PR launch strategy.
PR has the word “relations” in it for a reason—it’s about relationships! Journalists and others who work for publications are people too, professionals like all of us.
So by thoughtfully planning and preparing to reach out to TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and other publications, Omri knew he could be successful without a PR firm.
7 Practical Tips to DIY Your Funding Announcement
If you decide to DIY your PR launch, you need a plan. Omri recommends starting this process at least one month before you want the news to hit the media.
Here are 7 practical tips for your startup PR launch:
1. Do Your Research
After TechCrunch and VentureBeat, Omri recommends doing some research to find other publications in your industry or area that you want to reach out to. Compile a list of contacts by finding their Twitter handles or email addresses online.
- Pro tip: If you don’t know where to start, find a competitor who had a successful startup PR campaign. Look at the publications and exposure they had and mimic that strategy.
2. Plan Your Outreach
After you have your list of publications to reach out to, start approaching them by taking a “waterfall approach” and contacting them only one at a time.
Reporters want the exclusivity of the story, so if you are approaching so many people at one time, they may simply not want to work with you.
Take your time to craft an email or outreach message that is simple, friendly, and direct. Don’t be too “salesy” as it’s a big turn-off.
3. Build Relationships
This really goes with point #2, but it’s so important to keep the relationship in mind when doing your outreach. You can follow this three-step process:
- Start by reaching out just to make the connection, not to “sell” them on your pitch.
- Then, ask if your story is one they’d be interested in.
- If yes, continue the conversation and work out the next steps.
Taking this approach respects their profession and that they have many other stories and pitches coming their way.
4. Understand Exclusivity and Embargo
If the publication is interested in working with you, your next step is to define the embargo date. It’s important to have that because you don’t want to lose the exclusivity that might be needed by any of the reporters.
Reporters care about exclusivity. So if you’re talking to too many people or aren’t clear on the embargo, you may lose out on some awesome publications.
5. Write and Edit Your Piece
If you’ve never written a startup PR launch piece before, spend time researching other companies in your industry and mimic their style, content, and layout so that it’s in line with industry standards. PR Newswire is a great resource to get familiar with.
In addition to writing the piece, here are some other tips from Omri:
- Only include contact information you’re actually comfortable with people using.
- Ask native English speakers (or Hebrew, or any other language you are translating to) to review your piece for accuracy.
- Consider hiring an external editor and proofreader (i.e., from Upwork) to make it professional and error-free.
6. Have an Awesome Startup PR Kit
When it’s time to send over materials to the publication, make sure you have an awesome PR kit. Here are some tips Omri recommends following:
- Include things like a logo, screenshots of an app, photos of the founders or team, and anything else relevant.
- Use a zip file for the PR kit or link it to a Google Drive.
- Make sure you are giving appropriate credits to photographers, for example.
7. Follow Up
Omri shared the story of how he was traveling the day that VentureBeat was going to launch the article. Every layover he checked to see if it was online, but it wasn’t yet.
So, he reached out to the editor just to make sure that nothing had gone wrong. The editor shared that it would be out later that day since there were some other stories also being published.
This is a reminder that things can’t always be planned 100% to the minute—you can’t control everything. But you can reach out and make sure that everything is going ahead as you agreed.
It can be nerve-wracking doing your own marketing and startup PR if you’ve never done it before. But like Omri says, it all comes down to planning and preparation. Don’t rush things, but just follow the necessary steps to get the coverage you want for your launch.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Omri, check out his full interview with us.