by Susanna Gebauer (@dreckbaerfrau)
When we started out as entrepreneurs with a vision and an idea, to say the least, we were naive. We believed that PR would be a good idea to help with making our new startup know to a larger audience. It could have worked…
Like so many other founders we loved our idea, and we firmly believed others would, too. Some did, but we obviously failed to convince the press.
There are rules (unwritten, but not really secret) of how to approach journalists. We had no clue. Looking back we did everything wrong – at least from the tech journalist’s point of view (sending press releases seems to be so old-fashioned or rather out of fashion).
Learning our lesson and admitting idealism and commitment is not everything, we decided experience should do the trick: We thought we should employ people who knew how it should be done and hired a PR agency. Big mistake…
I am not sure what the (expensive) PR people actually did for us, results were even less than what we had achieved without them – apart from leaving a big hole in our purse – money we could better have spent on some new features for exploreB2B, an employee to help with our developing social media strategy … or even some great food and wine.
Thus frustrated, we decided that PR was not for us – and turned to building a reputation and a following in social media. We connected to influencers; we guest posted on their blogs. After the off balance relationship with tech journalists where we were advised to buy them drinks and to try to be their friends (don’t tech journalists have real friends? Do they need all founder’s worshiping to make them feel good?), it felt like being part of a community. We shared, we connected, we talked … and we built a loyal audience for exploreB2B.
The key lesson we learned was that we should rather trust our own strengths, than some false “friendships” and the fickle success of press coverage.
And then PR came back to us… on a small scale. Building a reputation and a name in marketing led to being asked for interviews, opinions and expertise. Not by the big names in the tech press, but by the smaller ones.
As exploreB2B is picking up speed and our social audience growing by the day, we decided that maybe it was time to give PR another try! But not with paying heaps of money for work some PR guys might or might not do.