PR for Startups
Interview + Workshop with Clara Armand-Delille, Founder & MD @ThirdEyeMedia
With a background at industry powerhouses such as Google and Accel Partners and more than 15 years in communications, Clara knows her stuff.
Having worked together at iZettle, I can attest to her ability to transform brand stories.
In this discussion, we'll explore practical tips tailored for startups. We’ll also host a hands-on workshop for those who want to take their PR game to the next level.
E: To kick things off, was there a specific 'aha' moment that made you go, "Yep, PR is definitely my thing?”
C: I have aha moments every week! I love what I do. Whether it’s offering up the perfect content in the nick of time to a reporter, or helping an Italian startup secure headlines in English, or putting the finishing touches on an opinion piece about the future of AI, I’ve found that the sentiment of passion and drive grows over the years.
E: In your own words, what's PR? Do you feel it plays a different role in startups than in established companies?
C: What I love about working with startups is that the work I do has a real impact. It’s truly game-changing for a startup to create a media footprint, it signals authoritativeness in a way that owned channels like a company’s website, blog or Twitter handle just can't.
In my several years running my PR consultancy, I have had countless stories of early-stage startups that went on to raise big rounds, or close a major partnership after working with us to get a bit of coverage in the right media outlets.
E: You're standing in a coffee line beside a startup founder. You've got 30 seconds to turn them into a PR believer. What's your pitch?
C: If you doubt the power of PR, imagine you are a VC. Now think of the said VC receiving 10 company decks from AI-related startups. And then the 11th deck is yours, and when the investor Googles your company, they see a profile interview in EU-Startups. Which one do you think stands a better chance to get a call back from the investor?
It’s not just about PR, of course the firm will look at your growth numbers, the team, etc., but if all factors are roughly equal, the media coverage can be a tipping point in your favor. It definitely contributes to your proof of concept.
Years ago, I worked for a company called Goodlord. They hired us to announce a £450k seed funding. I managed to get them a profile piece in Startups.co.uk. Months later, they were discovered by LocalGlobe, who invested in their next round. Look at them today.
E: I've seen how PR can improve the effectiveness of other marketing channels, but founders often see it as an either/or option. Given your experience helping startups with PR, can you provide examples of how it can complement and enhance other marketing efforts?
C: What's unique about PR is that it’s not your voice. Instead, it’s a credible 3rd party endorsement that's publicly recognized as legitimate and credible, fake news aside of course!
No amount of you talking on your own channels can beat that. Using your own channels to amplify media coverage is a great use of social media. In fact, we do that a lot ourselves, on our Instagram (see story highlights), as well as on the client page of our website. We are very transparent about the coverage we secure for our clients and have nothing to hide, and our company channels and website are a great place to showcase that.
E: For cash-constrained startups, when should they go the DIY route, and when is it worth working with a pro like you?
C: For early-stage startups, the most important thing is to have a general sense of how the media works, what makes a story, and when to reach out for support. I’ve given countless media trainings about these topics, and time and again, I'm surprised at how much of a knowledge gap there seems to be for founders when it comes to the basics of how a newsroom works, what is newsworthy, etc.
We’re trying to bridge the gap by offering frequent trainings to venture capital firms, accelerator cohorts, incubator programs and individual founders.
In the earlier stages, if a founder has a rough sense of when to pitch a story, their investors can be a good first resource to secure some PR support. Oftentimes, a VC will facilitate their internal PR resources or point you to a reliable agency or freelancer.
E: What are the not-so-obvious metrics or indicators that startups should track to know if their PR efforts are working?
C: The big drama of PR is that it's not measurable. I have no way to tell you how many people have read your article on tech.eu, nor can I link the customer lead you scored to the article we generated.
Circulation, the number of monthly visits, is a good indicator. But SEO is actually far more important over time. If a publication does not have good SEO, the discoverability factor for a given article is very short-lived. We recently did a pre-seed announcement for Glyphic.ai. They secured coverage in Bloomberg, among other outlets. That piece alone will ensure months of optimal visibility for them in search engines.
E: Can you recommend a few must-have tools or resources that startups should consider for their PR activities?
C: Google Alerts are essential. They are a great way to survey the media and get a sense of what publications are covering your industry, competitors, etc. I recommend setting Google Alerts with the name of the company founder, the name of your company and the names of competitors.
E: What are your thoughts on AI's role in PR? Should startups be optimistic, cautious, or perhaps a mix of both?
C: AI is going to enhance what humans do really well. For PRs, it’s great news at many levels, from story ideation to market research to fine-tuning a draft. It just helps me do what I do much faster! For example, I can work with a client to brainstorm and refine topics (not something AI can do today) and pull some info to work with from OpenAI once I’ve decided what argument we’d like to make.
E: To wrap things up, you've got one do, and one don't for startups in PR. What's your best advice, and what pitfall should they avoid?
C: I literally wrote an entire article about this a couple of months ago! But, like with everything, don't overdo it. Try to be helpful (reporters love it when you can help them with content for an article rather than try to shove a topic at them!).
E: Last but not least, we're co-hosting a workshop in a few days to help startups fine-tune their PR efforts with hands-on guidance. Why should founders attend, and what can they expect?
C: It’s honestly a great use of a founder's time. They’ll be allocated 60mins to do a full brush-up on PR: how a newsroom works, how a reporter thinks, what makes a good story, tips for pitching myself/my business, premium media training tips, and examples from other startups who nailed their next level of growth from scoring a bit of coverage with ThirdEyeMedia!
For those who want to dive deeper into the topic and take their PR initiatives to the next level, don't miss our upcoming free, hands-on workshop on October 10.
Until next time,@Odepar
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