PR Tips for Startups with Novice Spokespeople

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Do you want to sound knowledgable, quotable and credible when you deal with the media? Make sure you work hard to get prepared–even if you know a lot about your subject. Take a look at some practical PR tips for startups of all sizes and industries:

1. Know your audience.

Who is the reporter you’re speaking to and who does their publication reach? Is it a general consumer audience, a business-savvy audience, an audience of recent college graduates? Tailor your comments accordingly.

2. Get a feel for how much time to spend talking, and what kind of deadline the reporter is under.

It is helpful to both you and the journalist to understand his or her deadline and how much time you have for the interview. If the reporter has five minutes to hear about how product X works, you will have to think about paring your comments down to the essentials. If the reporter has 30 minutes, then you can be more expansive and, yes, more relaxed. Reporters will be grateful if you show sensitivity to their very unforgiving deadlines.

3. Determine 2-3 key messages you would like to emphasize and reiterate. 

Before the interview begins, decide the most important points you want to make. Remember, that you have control over the messaging. Be certain you know what those messages are. Because of time constraints, and because so many reporters these days are not specialists, you can generally hope to make two or three salient points.

4. Make simple statements and avoid technical jargon. 

Don’t fall into a pattern of using technical language or acronyms. Many in your audience may not be able to decipher what you are saying.

5. Answer questions on your terms. Do not be goaded into answering questions you’re uncomfortable discussing. 

It is possible that the reporter may not ask you the questions you were prepared to answer. There are ways for you to still make the two or three points you had in mind. You can say in response to a question, “I’m not really prepared to answer that but I do want to say…” and so on.

6. When the reporter is finished, ask if you provided what they needed.

If you sense something was lacking, offer to give it another try. A reporter will be grateful for the effort.

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