Editor note: Elia caught up with Jill Lindström from STING to chat about product marketing and gave a few tips for startups too!
Hi Jill Lindström! Who are you and what do you do?
I do marketing and communications at the business accelerator STING in Stockholm. I coach and work with our startups when they want to bounce around PR ideas or discuss other communication matters.
Why do you do it?
I do it because it’s incredibly fun to work with entrepreneurs. I learn a ton from them and if I can contribute and help them and their businesses move forward, that’s a great feeling.
What are the most common PR/marketing problems faced by startups?
I’d say a common problem is that many young startups spend pretty much all their time developing their product or service so that there is no marketing or PR being done at all. Your brand, marketing strategy and communication plan should be developed alongside your product. PR takes a lot of work and you need to invest both time and effort to get your story out there.
Another issue is that entrepreneurs often are incredibly passionate about their product, but journalists may not share their excitement. A good idea is to prepare different messages for different types of audiences. And show the journalist that you took the time to research his or her interests. Share a piece of news with that journalist that you don’t give to anyone else.
Don’t get discouraged if a news release doesn’t get picked up. A lot of factors are at play and you can’t control the media.
A third common challenge for startups is to find their niche. Who are your key customers and what is the value that you offer them? What is it that they actually need? And where in the media jungle do you find them? If you try to talk about your startup with everyone, you waste both yours and the journalist’s time.
What are your top 3 tips for startups?
1. Get to know the top 5-6 journalists, bloggers and key influencers that report on news in your field. Read up on them and learn what they like to write about. How do they prefer to be contacted – email? Twitter? Phone? Target them personally when you pitch your story, don’t send out the same press release to 500 people. Also, stay in touch with your top 5 once you’ve created a relationship. Let them know how your startup progresses. No big pitches, just a simple “wanted to let you that this will happen next week… Interested?” works. Conversations are usually better than formal press releases.
2. The pitch: This is about the journalists’ readers – not about your product or company. What do the readers care about? What is value for them? In the pitch – be brief! Use bullets. Use common Swedish/English, e.g. talk the way you would talk to a regular person. Prepare clear messages that explain what you do, how you’re different and why your product is worth talking about. How will it change the readers’ lives? Also, try to avoid jargon like “award-winning unique innovation…”
3. Offer an exclusive. Don’t talk to everybody at once. Pick your top 1 journalist. If that’s a no go, call the next. Remember to adjust the news angle to suit each individual journalist. If you want, let them know that they can have the story exclusively. If you get a yes, ask what day they will publish it. Then it’s okay to contact other journalists and send out a press release to the masses the same morning the story is published.
Lastly, don’t get discouraged if a news release doesn’t get picked up. A lot of factors are at play and you can’t control the media.