GARAGE#4: LOU DRAPER & BRITTANY HODILL

At last weeks Startup Garage event, Lou Draper and Brittany Hodill enlightened an eager crowd at one of Wellington’s prime co-working spaces, In Good Company. They offered insights into the heart of Public Relations such as making connections and establishing ones brand effectively. 

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“PR is a message delivery service that strengthens your personal brand. In terms of media, it is about sharing this information in a really targeted and effective way,” says Draper. Essentially, PR experts work directly with the media in a bid to convince client’s content as ideas worth featuring. 

They spoke of the difference between earned media and owned media and what this may mean for a start-up business. Owned media is essentially advertising and allows much more control over the content that is released. Earned media is based heavily on the opinion of the journalist so influencing and educating the right media contact is paramount. 

Draper says a common mistake that people make is misinterpreting whether their message is ready for media attention. “It’s possible you may be a bit too close to your product to understand whether it is truly newsworthy.” Timing is everything. She used the election year as an example of a difficult time to sell a story due to journalists being bogged down elsewhere. “You must ask yourself how your product or company benefits people and whether it solves a problem. The answers to these questions need to be answered in the first three lines of your pitch to any journalist.” If perhaps now is not the time, personal branding is a good place to start. 

Hodill stressed the importance of understanding the media outlets you are pitching to. “By doing your research and understanding specific journalist’s interests and how they write about certain things, we can tailor the message to them,” she says. The benefit of using PR experts means they already know all the tips and tricks to ensure you get the best possible result. 

Establishing relationships outside of news is key. “You want to bring them in and make them feel like they are a part of something exclusive; that they’re getting that special treatment nobody else is getting,” says Hodill. She advised against the classic mistake of sending a generic piece of copy to many media platforms without any form of personalisation.

You embody the mission of your company, so ultimately your PR presence should align with your goals. “There’s no set formula for success,” says Hodill, “but there are tactics to increase your chances of being picked up.”

Thanks to everyone who made it along. The next Startup Garage event is with Carnival Mobile on Wednesday, August 20th. Sign-up here: http://startupgarage.co.nz/ 

Written by Jane Lawrence

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