This is my story of how our team tap on Digital PR to gain public awareness about our chatbot, Grant Uncle and what we learned from it.
Like many entrepreneurs out there who have no idea how to do PR, you are not alone! Personally, prior to doing PR for Grant Uncle, I’ve no idea how to do PR as well. I’m just an IT guy who only knows how to build a product. But I know that to really make Grant Uncle popular, we must learn to do PR. So I researched all over the internet and followed some of the steps to learn how we should do it.
Today, Grant Uncle is featured in the following areas:
In this post, I’ll summarize what I researched and tried over the past 1 month into a few simple steps below to help your startup get featured on media as well 🙂
- Identify your newsworthy points
- Define your target audience
- Research the media or channels that your target audience will read
- Find out what are the kinds of articles that your target audience enjoying reading
- Decide an angle for your story
- Craft a pitch according to the angle
- Pitch via email or Facebook Message
- Revise the angle & article you submitted based on feedbacks
Step 1: Identify your newsworthy points
You need to find out what is unique and interesting about your product that will get featured in media.
TIPS: If you don’t know whats your newsworthy points, start by asking your friends and family about what they think is unique about your product, startup or even you.
For my case, I’ve no idea what I can sell to the media that I’m unique. So I spoke to a few friends who are running a business, they all find having a chatbot that acts as their personal grant consultant is novel and useful. When they start using, they realized that there are a lot more other grants they can tap on. Besides that, they were quite impressed that my team & I who had no prior experience in building a chatbot managed to build this and I left university to build my own startup.
After talking, I figured out that the unique point about my startup will be the following:
- Chatbot that acts as their personal grant consultant
- Our experience of building a chatbot without any prior experience
- My backstory that I left university to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship
Now, you know what is your Newsworthy points, log it down somewhere on your notepad before we go to the next step.
Step 2: Define your target audience
I believe most startup already defined their target audience prior to building a product that solved their needs or problems.
But if you have not defined your target audience, do it at this stage before you proceed further.
TIPS: For fellow entrepreneurs who need some help in defining target audience. Check out 11 QUESTIONS THAT WILL DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE by Avalaunchmedia.
For Grant Uncle, we are very clear that our target audience will be:
SME business owners who are in the following demographic:
- Location is Singapore
- Age group of 18–35 years old
- Somewhat tech savvy
- Prefer a more bite sized information about the grants
- Since they have short attention span
- & want to know it fast as well.
Once you know your target audience, we can narrow down on where they will be hanging out on the internet in the next step.
Step 3: Find out what your target audience will be reading
I think the most important thing about marketing or PR is we need to be targeted. We should appear on what your target audience will be reading to get the right users. Besides that, the journalist will not be interested in featuring a startup that doesn’t concern or interests their community.
At that point of time, we curated this list of the website below which we aimed to get yourself to be featured since the community that visits those websites are who we want to target. Put them on Google Spreadsheet and invite your team to curate for u as well!
Once you collated your list, time to proceed to the next step!
Step 4: Find out what are the kinds of articles that your target audience enjoy reading
Now you should curate a list of website you want to get yourself up there and spend time doing research in each link.
Go into each website and observe what are the kind of articles that the website usually publish.
For example, we noticed Vulcan Post tend to feature a lot of Singapore startup and young entrepreneurs.
Another way to find out what kind of article they tend to publish is by evaluating the common tags used in each articles!
Now you found out the keywords/tags, time to log it down again!
The above screenshot was how our team did it previously after researching almost all the links we have in the excel sheet.
You may think why these keywords will be very useful for us?
Well, these keywords will give us insight on what are the kind of articles that the editors of the website are looking for and what kind of articles, the reader will enjoy. That will help us decide an angle for your story in the next step!
Step 5: Decide an angle for your story
With the keywords above, think about how you can create a story that gives value to the readers instead of trying to sell your product or services.
I created another column beside the keywords like the screenshot below
For Grant Uncle’s instance, I tried to think of a unique angle for each link we’re trying to pitch/submit to. Remember to make the angle interesting and relevant to your newsworthy points.
Now you have the angle, time to start writing the story to get ready for submission when the editors or journalist ask for it. If you’re not good at copywriting like me, hire an intern or free lancer to do the job :p
For the curious entrepreneurs, we wrote one story for each angle that we thought of.
Jun Xiang (My Intern), thank you for helping me to copy write so many stories!
Step 6: Craft a pitch for your story
Now is time to grab someone’s attention! Make your email subject and message interesting that will grab the attention of the website master.
One of the first featured we got is from this website: http://singaporechatbots.sg/
This was how I pitched :p
I believe we need to be daring to pitch. No harm nor cost to try pitching to a website.
Nonetheless, we hit some roadblocks as well when pitching to Tech In Asia
TIPS: I believe we should keep our pitch short and concise as journalist/editors are busy people. Remember to indicate what value you will be giving their readers when they featured your article.
Submit your article to them now once you got them interested and shared their email with you.
Step 7: Revise the angle & article you submitted based on feedbacks (Optional)
After you got someone interested about your article and you submitted it.
They might send you back a reply that your article might not fit their community guideline.
Don’t worry, some journalist/editors are pretty nice. They will actually advice you on how you should revise your submission & story angle and some will interview you instead to make the article more interesting.
From a total noob in PR to learning what PR can do for my company. I find that PR might seems difficult and can only be done by PR professional. But if you research deep enough, be targetted in terms of your pitch and craft stories that provide values to the community. I believe you can reap some results from it as well!
Just remember don’t try to write content that are meant to sell your products or services. You are trying to get awareness through PR. Sales will come eventually when you got more awareness among the right target audience.