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PR for tech startups: punch above your weight to land more media attention

PR for technology startups is challenging. Partly because you’re competing for media attention against established tech companies who likely have deeper pockets, a familiar brand name, and existing journalist relationships. But startups can still win in PR by playing to their strengths.

Here are five ways to compete and win in PR against longstanding technology brands if you’re a tech startup.

1) Lean into the passion and expertise of your founders

Typically, in a startup, the founders are your main PR spokespeople – which is something you can use to your advantage. Having built their business from the ground up, startup founders are usually hands-on in multiple areas with an intimate knowledge of the industry and what makes it tick. They can talk with a deep understanding of the market and their place in it. In my experience, this often makes them highly credible as PR spokespeople. They’re able to provide excellent insights for thought leadership content and PR commentary. So you should use their genuine passion and knowledge to drive your PR.

2) Exploit your tech startup’s storytelling opportunities

Startups possess added curiosity value – especially if they’re pitched in the right way. How is your startup disrupting its market or shaking up its industry by tackling old problems in surprising ways? Can you position your startup as a brave underdog taking on the tech giants? What about your founders’ journey – their initial struggles and setbacks and their relentless drive to succeed? Everyone loves a story about a little-known startup overcoming the odds to push through. PR storytelling like this helps create emotional connections, build a brand identity and generate media interest.

3) Use your agility to react faster

In PR, being quick can really pay off. You can grab high-profile media attention if you’re the first to jump on a hot topic or newsjacking opportunity with a well-thought-out PR initiative. And that’s where startups often have the upper hand over established companies. The average startup has a flat reporting structure with founders directly involved in all decisions. This means you can move quickly and turn around PR campaigns faster than larger brands with multiple management layers and a longer chain of command.

4) Be more outspoken

To win in PR, you often need to be bold. Journalists can’t build interesting stories if their sources and interviewees just sit on the fence. Spokespeople in established companies are sometimes more inclined to play it safe than say anything that could be viewed as slightly controversial (especially if they don’t hold senior leadership roles). In contrast, startup founders are more inclined to be bold. They have got where they are by betting on themselves. They know that success doesn’t always come from being risk-averse. This is why they can be more open to making waves by voicing strong opinions and saying it how it actually is. This gives your startup an important advantage in gaining media attention in a crowded market.

5) Keep your positioning and messaging simple

Many startups enter the market around a single core product or service with a distinct, easy-to-grasp positioning. This clarity and focus often translate more effectively into PR campaigns and comms activity, making messaging clearer and more memorable.On the other hand, established brands often have more complicated positioning and messaging. They may have multiple offerings and have to appeal to diverse audiences and stakeholders. As a startup, your simple direct message can give you a significant edge in PR.

While facing off against larger, more established competitors can seem daunting, startups have a unique opportunity to punch above their weight in PR. Embrace the passion and expertise of your founders and the clarity of your messaging, And use your agility to react quickly to media opportunities.