Can start-ups be PR up-starts? All aboard the StartUp Britain #subtour

All aboard

This time last week I was stationed outside Antenna, Nottingham’s creative hub, in the pouring rain waiting for a bus. “Wow, how fascinating” I hear you cry.

However, this was no ordinary bus (new Sade remix in there somewhere!). This was the StartUp Britain #subtour bus, replete with experts offering advice on anything from tax, IP and funding, to PR, marketing (Francine Pickering at Clarity Marketing) and SEO (Susan Hallam) both of whom are fellow inafishbowl experts.

Emma Jones
Inspiring a more enterprising nation

After a quick brief from business author, founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain, Emma Jones, I slipped onto the bus and bagged myself a seat at the back (such a rebel) settling myself in for whatever the rain and the start-ups of Nottingham could throw at me.

Though the start-ups were hugely varied, there was a constant theme – how do I generate some PR?  Some had already made decent strides here, such as Helen at Bambino Beads who recently won Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday award on twitter but the vast majority were unclear on how to get cracking.


So, I thought I’d provide a checklist to help anyone, not just start-ups, get started, before they even begin to write their first press release.

1. Know your audience. What do they read? If you are going to start a PR campaign you need to know where your battleground is. How might they find out about you? Online, magazine, newspapers, trade magazines, all of the above? Sure, a feature in the FT sounds great but is that what your customers read? Could you even fulfill an order if you pulled it off?

2. Once you have a feel for the media outlets that will best serve you, try to prioritise them into simple A, B and C categories and get researching them. Read the target media before you think about pitching your story. Not only is it more effective, as you will understand how you might fit in, it is just common courtesy!

3. Plan. Contact their editorial assistants and ask them for the schedule for the year. It may well be that you can provide timely comment or content in the coming months. Planning is a huge part of PR. You can’t just turn it on or off when you fancy it. You need to aim for a consistent drip feed of messages. Forward feature research through these schedules can fill gaps when you do not have any genuine news hooks.

4. Prepare. Have you got some photography of your products/people/services? A picture tells a thousand words and can raise a fairly average story to great heights. Naturally, a distinctly poor photo, or none at all, can have entirely the opposite effect.

5. Done your planning? Got the contacts? Now, find your hook. Ask yourself, is this really news? If your product or service isn’t actually new, perhaps it chimes with some current affairs or seasonal events? If you are thinking, “hmm, yes, it would make a great Christmas present“, get moving NOW. Christmas features and ideas have been rolling off the PR bandwagons since July!

6. Plan done? Hook located? Now you can begin to prepare a press release. This article is my most popular on inafishbowl and tells you how to do just that.

Speaking of the fishbowls, George, Claire and Lyn were on the bus too. See what they made of it here.

Finally, just a quick note to thank Emma and the team at StartUp Britain for letting me loose on the bus. The whole campaign was a breath of fresh air on a dreary August morning and hugely beneficial to all I’m sure.