Why Startups Should Hire a PR Agency

You’ve made the big plunge! Congrats on your incredible startup adventure. You’re probably thinking, “Now where do I go next?”

It’s no secret that starting a new business, no matter how much professional experience you have under your belt, is a challenging endeavor. And when it comes to showcasing a new company, it can be intimidating (especially when you’re trying to stay on a budget). By partnering with a PR agency, some of that weight is lifted off your shoulders, allowing you to focus more intently on running your business.

Investing in PR
Public relations is about making news happen and ultimately allowing any new business to truly shine. Not only does PR help tell your story, but it’s also all about increasing visibility and building relationships. This is key when you’re just starting off!

Although the value of adding PR to a business is huge, there are a few things that you’ll need to be able to do before hiring an agency:

  • Define your target audience
  • Determine the spokespeople you’ll offer to the media
  • Determine your budget for PR
    • It’s crucial that you budget enough to see results, and this means creating a relationship with an agency that lasts beyond a couple of months.
  • Define your competitors
  • Outline your business objectives and initiatives

New owners are often attracted to a marketing regimen that immediately results in sales. How on earth does one measure success with public relations? Public relations actually CAN (and does) drive measurable results. Website traffic directed from secured media hits, media impressions and social media engagements are just a few examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure ROI in PR. And, in sharing your story with the right outlets and the right audience, you’ll discover solid success.

Sharing Your Story
Media relations is the bread and butter of what we do at Dittoe PR. Our ability to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with the media enables us to consistently secure media coverage that builds awareness, drives engagement and influences behavior among our clients’ key audiences – all action items that are of utmost importance to any startup!

Interacting with journalists is a good reason to get all content, including your website, social channels and more, in a presentable format. It’s easy to focus internally on what your coworkers and professional connections think about your business. But interacting with journalists, and therefore getting your company’s story absorbed by your target audience, is when you’ll start to see your business thrive.

Forbes provides a helpful reminder to only create and document content that will bring value to your audience and build a lasting relationship with them. View starting a new business as a chance to do things right from the beginning.

Building a Positive Reputation
Your company is new. So you likely don’t have a plethora of reviews or testimonials to tout your amazing service or product. And no new brand can survive on self-promotion and advertising alone, making credible sources telling your story a key component of marketing for your business.

PR is an effective tool that can amp up one’s credibility with media coverage. Third-party articles, videos, reviews and more in reputable publications are items that can be listed on a website and included in other marketing materials. Honestly, this process can take some time, but in the end – you’ll have earned testimonial gold. Media coverage isn’t necessarily about gaining direct sales, but it’s about direct brand messaging and building awareness. And believe it or not, marketing and public relations are at their best when used together.

In short, marketing aims to achieve direct revenue while public relations is about sharing your company’s story through communication channels. So here’s our advice: start out strong and hit the ground running with a custom-made and results-focused PR campaign!

We’re here to help businesses succeed. If you’re interested in seeking public relations for your startup,  contact Lauryn Gray to schedule a meeting and learn more about what Dittoe PR could do for your business.

How to Build a Social Media Advertising Calendar

So, you’re ready to advertise on social media – congratulations! Now that you have a strong social strategy and content flowing regularly on your page, it’s time to increase the reach of your posts by putting ad dollars behind them.

Typically, at Dittoe PR, we build “ad cals” on a monthly basis for our clients, but you have the option to create a weekly, monthly, quarterly or even an annual advertising calendar.

From outlining your advertising goals to selecting content and setting a budget, below is a step-by-step guide to help you build a social media advertising calendar and further promote your business online.

Step 1: Set your budget
According to Web Strategies, businesses spend on average about 5-15% of their annual revenue on marketing efforts. Of that total marketing budget, 35-45% of funds should be allotted to digital marketing. From there, 15-25% of the digital marketing budget should be allocated towards social media advertisements.

For example, if your company reported a $100,000 revenue in 2018, your annual social media advertising budget should be around $1,500. Break that down on a monthly basis, and you should be spending about $125 per month.

At Dittoe PR, we recommend starting out with a budget of $250-500 per month in the first few months to allow for audience and content A/B testing.

Step 2: Create an audience
Understanding which platform(s) your target audience is active on will benefit you in the long run. The Pew Research Center conducts an annual survey to discover which platforms certain demographic groups gravitate toward.

If you’re trying to reach women between the ages of 30-49, Facebook is probably your best bet. But if you’re trying to reach men between the ages of 18-29, YouTube or Instagram might be the advertising platform for you.

Whoever your target audience is, the more specific you can be with demographics, the more likely you are to see a higher return on your investment. For example, let’s say you’re promoting an article published in an industry trade publication by your CEO on how to retain employees. You’ll probably want to promote the piece on LinkedIn and target users with similar work and education history and those working in overlapping industries since the content will be most relevant to them. It wouldn’t make sense to target 18-24-year-old users on Instagram, right?

Step 3: Outline your goals
After setting a budget and defining your niche audience, it’s time to align your overall business goals with your expectations for social ad performance. Are you interested in increasing foot traffic to one of your locations? Consider targeting people within a certain mile radius of your store. Are you interested in promoting a new product or service? Find common interests and overlapping demographics for your target audience and promote away!

Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow digital marketers to select an overall campaign goal when setting up new ads or selecting existing content to boost or sponsor. From brand awareness to consideration and conversions (a.k.a., website visits to engagement and lead gen), start with the objective that best aligns with your overall goals and go from there!

Step 4: Select the content
Now that you’ve set your budget, chosen your platform and outlined your goals and target audience, it’s time to select the content you want to promote! Personally, I like to look at the top performing content over the past few weeks and look ahead for any upcoming events or recurring promotions in the next month to help me get started.

You can also look at recently secured media coverage, top performing or under-performing landing pages on your website (shout-out to Google Analytics!) and upcoming holidays that align with your business objectives.

Are you trying to increase gift card sales before Mother’s Day? Did your media relations team recently secure a big national hit? Do you have an informational video getting a lot of views on your website? Is your business recruiting for new positions? The options are endless, especially if you’re willing to get creative!

Step 5: Build your calendar
Just like grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe, it doesn’t really matter what order you throw the ingredients into the bowl, as long as they’re all accounted for in the end! As long as you’ve checked all five boxes before launching your ad, you’re good to go!

Some digital marketers start by outlining which dates they want the ad to run first, then follow up with budget, audience, etc. This can be useful if you’re advertising a seasonal sale on a product line or promoting ticket sales for an upcoming event. Some start by dividing their budget equally between 4-5 ads and align the audience type with the content, which can be useful for businesses trying to build general brand awareness among target audiences.

At Dittoe PR, we use the following format for our ad cals, but feel free to make one of your own if you need more information!

AD DESCRIPTION: This is a brief description of the ad (i.e., Careers page or WaPo coverage)

  • Ad run: These are the start and end dates for your advertisement.
  • Medium: This helps to signify whether or not your team will be boosting existing content or creating a new advertisement, and on which platform the ad will run.
  • Creative: From a URL to a company branded graphic or video, the creative used can vary depending on the type of ad you’re running. Just be sure whoever is creating the ads understands what will catch the audiences’ eyes! (Hint: visuals > text)
  • Campaign budget: Here’s where you outline the total amount you want to spend on the advertisement over the lifetime of the ad. If you’re running for longer than a week, consider at least $1/day. Some platforms, like LinkedIn, require a $10/day minimum.
  • Audience: Use this section to break down the audience demographics including age, gender, employment status, job industry, interests, and much more.

Once you’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle, put them together in an easy-to-understand calendar format like the one below. This will help you reference the month (or year) at a glance and know when it’s time to launch a new set of ads. This format will also help ensure you’re not oversaturating the market with too many ads running at once.

If you’re still interested in assistance with managing your social media advertising efforts, contact Lauryn Gray to schedule a consultation or request a proposal. We’re happy to help!

Top Services Clients Seek from Dittoe PR

My husband works in manufacturing, and he’s often met with blank stares when he tells colleagues that I work in PR. He once shared with me that he told a coworker I “tweet for work.” Technically, he’s not wrong. But that is just one aspect of my day-to-day work for clients who seek social media services from Dittoe PR.

You know the difference between public relations and marketing and the services we provide, however, you may still be curious which services our clients turn to us for the most. No blank stares here – these are the top services our clients seek from Dittoe PR:

Media Relations
Media relations is our bread and butter. While many “full-service” agencies include media relations in their plethora of services with everything from logo design to social media strategy, this is the core of our work at Dittoe. Your story is important, and we want the world to know about it, which is why we spend a significant amount of time working with the media best equipped to share your story.

Media relations at Dittoe is much more than writing press releases and sending pitches. When we secure media coverage for our clients, our work isn’t done. We want to ensure you are well-equipped to convey your story through media, whether that’s on TV, in an article, or during a photoshoot. It’s also important to remember that you may not be the only person telling your story – and we want to help with that, too.

Recently, Kasie, Vanessa and our summer intern Ali traveled to Chicago for Media Training Day with the WGA’s Caddie Academy. The Caddie Academy provides summer caddie opportunities to under-resourced high school students who ultimately hope to pursue an Evans Scholarship. Sharing the impact the Caddie Academy has on its participants is the goal, and what better way to do so than by connecting the caddies with the media directly? During media training, the Dittoe PR team shared everything from the best way to respond to interview questions to the best color shirt to wear on camera. We don’t just secure media opportunities, we ensure everyone who is telling your organization’s story is as prepared as possible to share it.

Thought Leadership
The executives we work with are experts at what they do. Whether they built a tech startup or manage a hotel that was built from the ground up, they are uniquely keyed into the operations that make their businesses successful and the skills required to manage them. They want to share their expertise with the world. That’s where Dittoe comes in.

If you recall our PR Lingo 101 blog, you’ll know that bylines are a large part of thought leadership campaigns. Whether a CEO sits down to pen an article about the importance of fiber broadband in rural communities or we conduct an interview with a VP on her work revamping the company’s HR policies, our Dittoe word wizards work with the execs to craft a strong article for publication. Our job is to ensure these bylines are published in ideal outlets for the company. That could mean a trade publication aimed at our client’s customers or a magazine where C-suite execs can learn from each other. Dittoe constantly researches new publications and builds relationships with editors to ensure a smooth byline publication process for all clients.

Social Media
Here’s where I tweet for work. And post to Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. And draft monthly strategies for content, including boosted posts. And audit existing client channels to measure what is working well and what could be improved. And educate executives about the importance of social media for companies even as we all personally scoff at Facebook’s practices.

As any social media manager will tell you, managing social media is about far more than writing tweets and responding to Instagram comments. In fact, the actual work of posting is often the quickest. The strategy for a company’s social channels always comes first to guide not just what we want to post, but why. We also regularly monitor social media analytics to see what content is performing the best, or what the audience isn’t quite as interested in.

For example, Intelligent Fiber Network’s (IFN) social media presence spans Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. What our team posts every day on these channels is the last thing we plan. First, we look at the upcoming quarter and identify the main sales or marketing goals: Which trade shows are occurring this quarter? Where is IFN’s network expanding? What new projects are on the horizon to announce? Only then do we drill down to the office level and determine what else about IFN we want to highlight during the quarter, the month, and the week – this includes everything from monthly birthday and anniversary celebrations to new blog posts.

Executing media relations, thought leadership and social media campaigns take grit and persistence, but they’re only as successful as the planning, brainstorming and strategy behind them. This is why our clients come to Dittoe PR. Not only do they know we’ll execute our plans to the letter and secure amazing coverage, but we put in the legwork to ensure those plans are the best fit for the client and will always result in success.

Are you interested in any of the services listed above? Contact Lauryn Gray to schedule a meeting and learn more about what Dittoe PR could do for your business.