How to PR for your start-up – Stacey Connolly

Stacey Connolly is a senior account director in the Irish PR agency Beachhut PR, which specialises in tech communications for scaling and high-growth start-ups.

We asked Connolly to share some of her tips for early-stage start-ups considering their first foray with PR.

How is the tech PR scene in Ireland?

In terms of media, we have a pretty small pool, but we have many prominent players in tech in Ireland, so it’s thriving here. But we do look beyond our shores to make sure we amplify our clients and their news and how they’re making their own impact on the world.

How important is it for start-ups to look outside of their own country when doing PR, or should they be starting at home first?

We always advise you to start at home first; that’s where you will meet a couple of ‘champions’ who are interested in your story. The journalists are always after good local stories of companies doing well – companies making exciting innovations.

We only say go further afield if there’s a niche title out there explicitly talking about what they are doing. For example, if they are involved in automation or AI, if there’s a title that covers AI, or automation, or another area you are a thought leader in, go towards them.

If they want more European recognition, because maybe they’re looking for funding or have their eyes on a significant title, you have to bring them back to – what’s the objective here? Do you want to be recognised externally in a major publication for vanity metrics? Or is there an objective here – are you going into a different market? Is there global growth?

PR is all about realising and understanding where you are as a company and where you need to make an impact. If your only market right now is your home country, focus your efforts there. If you have news that you’re moving to new markets, why is that interesting? And why should journalists in that new market pay attention to you?

What should new founders think about when approaching their PR mission?

A couple of things to start off– as Dan Taylor in TechEU always says, you need good photography with any outreach (read his tips here). A journalist is generally not going to write an article or do any media around it if there’s not a great photo of the founding team, or the spokesperson or the product.

Get a good book of images together. It would be best to have both landscapes for the digital age because most articles are landscape photos, and portrait styles are for headshots.

Stacey with the team at Beachhut PR

When you’re reaching out to people, the second thing I always advise is making sure you’re discoverable yourself. If you have a landing page or website for your start-up, make sure you have a contact or phone number on that page. Existing isn’t enough, and people will not look for you. Make sure you are discoverable.

Get your story straight. At the end of the day, journalists and media want to hear your story – how you thought of this idea, how you brought the team together. They’re interested in what you were doing but never bore them! Talk about what your company is doing – how it will change the world? How will it change that specific industry, and what are your goals for the future?

It’s great talking about how the company formed, but there’s only so much runway that will get you. As soon as you have that story straight, it would be best if you moved on to what’s next in your company. What is the vision? What is the end goal? Where does your technology go in the future?

What do start-ups need to know if they want to write their press release?

You don’t just throw a press release together; you need to have news. News is a new advisor joining the board, fresh funding, or a job announcement. Just a company existing is not a press release.

It would help if you thought about your news. You’re going to be competing with companies raising millions of euros, so why does your €500K investment matter? What are you doing with that €500K? How does your little piece of niche tech impact more significant industries? And why do people need to take notice of your funding, the people backing you, and the team that has left their corporate jobs to come and work for your start-up?

Make sure that you add how to get in touch with you at the bottom and photos, along with your press release. Use all that collateral you’ve just built up for your first press release.

Fiona Alston is a freelance journalist based in Ireland covering tech, innovation, start-ups and interesting SMEs. Alston is also passionate about athletics, health and horses having competed in triathlons, equestrian events and horse racing, and her lived experience comes through when covering sports personalities or fitness features. Growing up on the family farm in Scotland, Alston graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BA (Hon.) in Broadcast Journalism, and is frequently published in The Irish Times, The Business Post, RTÉ and 4i Mag.