How startups can hack the PR machine

Original post by Doug Monro via GIGAOM

Six months ago my company hadn’t even launched. Last week we found ourselves being talked about everywhere in Britain — a full page story in The Sun, the country’s biggest newspaper, columns in most of the other nationals (both online and offline) and pickup in literally hundreds of regional newspapers, radio stations, trade publications and blogs.

How? Simple: We used our strengths — the data we live and breathe every day — and released a survey of the best and worst cities to find a job in the U.K.

The result was that we saw record traffic and brand searches on our site this week, new inquiries from advertisers, and generated lots of inbound links that will help us with SEO going forward. Startups like Adzuna generally can’t afford brand advertising, but that doesn’t mean they can’t build brands, and PR — like social media and word of mouth from happy customers — is a cost-effective way of achieving awareness. In my previous roles at Gumtree and Zoopla, I’ve seen how this sort of PR can be a key early part of the virtuous cycle of getting a consumer startup into the public consciousness.

So how did we do it? Why did this story work?

It was newsworthy

Unemployment is a hot topic on the news agenda, at record levels and still rising. Government data that comes out each month gets lots of attention, but there’s little more insight coming out beyond news of companies who are hiring or making cuts. Finding work is a big issue people need help with, and people have a vested interest in their local area: with pride and greed we hit on two of the Seven Deadly Sins!

It was carefully timed

We timed this story to come out 3 working days after the official unemployment data, which we used as part of our analysis. Releasing the same day runs the risk that the journalist has already written their story – 2 weeks after it feels like it is not fresh or in the news agenda. Previously, I’ve had lots of success with stories timed around known events or calendar dates for similar reasons.