So, launch press release is written and distributed. What are the next steps? You have to somehow promote your service on the Internet. Assuming that you have no money to hire a specialized PR agency with all the media contacts in place, the task can seem daunting, the goal – unattainable. The worst thing you can do to yourself and your business is start panicking. How do I approach bloggers the right way? Why would they even care? All these questions are fair. You have to prepare a plan of action to increase chances for success. You also have to clearly understand what makes your service stand out and why these unique features are newsworthy. The harsh reality is – not every startup wins coverage. However, despite all the hardships and challenges, I managed to do it for Zen Assets. What helped us break into the blogosphere? Hard work. Modern technology. Established strategy. I have prepared this story to share my experience with you. Keep reading to learn the tactics that work in 21st century. Together we will secure a few publications for your exciting new project!
Lesson #1 – Attend conferences!
Modern fast-paced world abounds with networking opportunities. As an entrepreneur, you have to attend relevant events and spread the word about your newborn company. It is a business development necessity. It is a must. No excuses. Certainly, some startups can be successfully promoted via the Internet. But if you deal with people’s trust (think financial sector) – never rely on the online channels alone. Go out, meet potential customers and partners, chat with them, show off your bright personality. Chief executives, as frontmen of the companies, are usually very good at persuading and building long-lasting business relationships. I am not saying that you have to plough tons of cash into events. Choose the most important ones.
You may ask me why this is so important. I will give you a real life example that speaks for itself. Before the official launch of Zen Assets in February 2015, we attended an IDCEE conference in Kyiv. As a British startup, we were not looking for funds from Russians or Ukrainians. The goal was to practice pitching and test our offline marketing materials. We made quite a successful appearance at this conference – being named “The Best Ukrainian Startup” by Apex Ventures, we received six months of free mentoring and media support. The award was prestigious and it automatically put us in the ranks of “interesting” and “promising” projects. What does it mean? First and foremost, it meant that we were now in the media radar.
KyivPost, an exceptionally reputable Ukrainian magazine, mentioned us in a story: Ukrainian startups take all 19 awards at IDCEE 2014. The weight of this backlink is substantial. PR achievement – straight and obvious. The lesson learnt here can be formulated the following way: be active and attend grand networking events; present yourself and be a star; win awards – catch media attention. People love inspirational stories of success. That’s why if you win some kind of title – even useless from the sales point of view – this will entice bloggers and journalists to write about you. Coveted publicity! Earned honestly.
Ukrainian blogger Lyubomir Ostapiv, who is also a Home Finances and Mobile apps expert, wrote a few lines about Zen Assets in his post “Some thoughts on IDCEE”. He liked the idea of choosing ETFs for a particular personality type.
Successful conference presentations can have far-reaching consequences. Media follows up with you to learn how things are going. Kyivpost mentioned us in an article in 2014. We were named one of the promising young companies. In 2015 they dedicated a full article to our project. Luhansk native’s Zen Assets makes its way in British financial technology industry was written after a Skype interview with Ukrainian technology journalist Andrii Degeler.
Lesson #2 – Leverage personal contacts
When you are just getting started, nobody seems to care. But you, as a PR specialist, have to achieve the first publications no matter what. To get the ball rolling, think about your friends or acquaintances. Do they have blogs/sites where your content may be published? Make a little research, prepare a few ideas for articles, and pitch these ideas to friends. People from our circles are usually the most responsive and open for dialogue. Plus, who doesn’t want to get a high quality blog post free of charge?
In my relationships with bloggers I like to think guest posting is a win-win (or “mutually beneficial”) type of cooperation. They provide me with a popular platform with thousands of visitors per month. I give away a piece of high quality content that will attract, engage and delight their readers. Try to think the same way. And doors will open.
Very good friends of mine, Karina and Sergey, are co-founders of an online magazine AstrumPeople. They publish success stories and biographies of famous businessmen, artists, scientists. I thought they might be interested in Sergey Sosnov’s (Zen CEO) business experience – and, not surprisingly, they were! It took me several days to draft a captivating story. One week later I saw my article on AstrumPeople – and was very happy. The first tangible result of my work for this project!
Lesson #3 – Submit content to article directories
Most article directories are looking for fresh content and will publish yours for free. I found a curious online community SelfGrowth.com. It might not be obvious, but this site welcomes articles on investing & personal finance. Probably they think that financial well-being is just as important for happiness as fulfilling relationships or mental health.
So, here is what I did:
- first, applied for an “expert contributor” status (this was not a problem – Sergey, my client, has solid reputation and all the necessary credentials);
- got accepted;
- pitched a few story ideas;
- prepared an article on the chosen topic (following website’s guidelines);
- saw it published in a few short days!
If you are wondering how I found this website, here is the answer. We work with a professional SEO tool called “SEOprofiler”. Go to “Link Building” section. Then click on the “Starter Backlinks” button. Make sure you are browsing the right category – “Article directories”. Here we go! The top ten results are definitely worth your attention – these sites are authoritative (just look at the Link Influence Score they have!). Figure out what type of content these directories accept. Some will be of interest to you.
By putting these three simple tactics into practice, you will be able to achieve the first publications on external websites. Easy? Pretty much. Important? Definitely! Without starter articles it will be hard to climb up the media ladder. You need a proof of legitimacy to move forward. To secure guest posts described here you will have to brainstorm topics, choose the most exciting ones, discuss them with the site owners and deliver exclusive content. Make your stories irresistible – and they will be accepted.
Want to know how Zen Assets appeared on niche blogs and relevant hubs? Not accidentally. For exact steps check out my future posts.