A rookie PR mistake that a lot of SaaS companies make is thinking that their product alone will generate volumes of press coverage. I’m afraid to say that most journalists don’t really care about your product. Their job is to tell stories, not to promote brands.
While a few years back the advent of SaaS services regularly made the press, what was then seen as innovative and newsworthy is now considered the norm. This means winning press coverage for a SaaS company has become more difficult, but certainly not impossible.
So as a SaaS startup, you need to approach PR the right way and with the right expectations. With this in mind, here are four SaaS PR hacks you can use to start winning media coverage and grow your business.
1. Leverage your backstory
This is one of the first PR hacks that any SaaS startup should focus on. What’s your backstory and how can you leverage this? Did you and your team quit senior positions at a blue-chip firm to set up your business? Were you inspired to do things better than they currently are?
It can be difficult for you to find this narrative. For instance, something that you don’t consider to be that interesting might be a headline to someone else. With that in mind, use your inner circle as a sounding board and ask for honest feedback as to whether your startup’s narrative is interesting.
Here are some potential angles your business can take when telling your story:
- An inspiring, positive story of your company overcoming stumbling blocks and adversity
- What did you or your founders do before this startup?
- Any past achievements from members of your organization directly or indirectly related to your field
- Stories that have a social-enterprise element are not entirely self-serving
It’s recommended that your backstory highlights your SaaS experience while simultaneously focusing on the different members of your business. This can build your thought leadership credentials and help your target audience better relate to your team.
2. Use your product – but not in the way that you think
As stated above, you can’t just rely on your product to win press coverage. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be leveraging what it is you do when approaching the media. By this I mean using your product and your business as social proof, to demonstrate to the media that you’re an expert in your field and have useful insights to share.
For example, if you’re a SaaS accounting software company you could pitch for guest post spots in b2b finance or small business publications. Article ideas you could pitch could include “Top small business tax deductions for 2019” and “How to balance your books during your first year of trading”. In your pitch you would then explain how your background makes you qualified to talk about these topics.
But it’s not only guest articles that you can secure with this technique. You can jump on the back of major news stories that break in your industry and offer to provide expert comments or opinions to journalists.
For example, say you’re a human resource management SaaS company, you can jump on news stories related to mental health in the workplace. If a study is published reporting on this problem and generates plenty of media coverage, you can reach out to journalists offering an expert comment or opinion, based on your expertise.
3. Focus product announcements towards the right outlets
While you can’t solely rely on your product to win press coverage, this still has a place within any SaaS PR strategy. But you should focus your efforts on the outlets that will be interested in this. You can split this into three categories:
- SaaS media outlets (such as SaaS Mag)
- Specialist trade publications that report on your industry
- Local media outlets.
In terms of how to approach these types of outlets with news about your product, a press release still holds plenty of value. Just make sure that each of your press release announcements is genuinely newsworthy. A major product update, new service launch or securing significant funding would tick this box. Whereas updating pricing, launching a small update or hiring an intern would not!
An example of a SaaS startup that has been successful at winning media coverage across both local and industry-specific media outlets is Ottawa-based Wavve Boating. They used a new community trip feature on their app to secure media wins from marine industry publications including Trade Only Today, and local news outlets including Ottawa Citizen.
4. Got some happy customers? Reach out for a case study or client testimonial
As we’ve previously mentioned, most journalists don’t really care about your startup. This is certainly true if you have no real-world evidence of the benefits of your SaaS product or service.
This is where case studies come in. Case studies offer up real evidence to journalists – as well as your target audience – of the benefits of your SaaS product. This not only increases your social proof but it can also help you win press.
Here are a few ways in which a case study can help your business win press coverage:
- Seal of approval from a well-respected name – Recognition from a big name can give you enormous credibility. For instance, say you’re a SaaS company that provides email management and marketing software. A case study from a huge conglomerate talking up the awesome usability of your product can help you win press in two ways: the big-name association and the endorsement of your product’s usability.
- Evidence that your company challenges an industry trend – For instance, say you’re a SaaS company that makes design software. An industry complaint might be that design software is still not as effective on mobile as it is on desktop. However, if you have a case study where one of your customers speaks glowingly about how easy the software is on mobile, this positions you as an industry outlier shaking up the SaaS design industry.
- Helps in your pitches to journalists – This can increase your social proof in your pitches and result in more media wins. However, remember that journalists are under time constraints and don’t spend long reading pitches. Therefore, it’s advisable to condense your case study and maybe even just include a quote.
If your SaaS company is new to case studies, you don’t need to write a 1,500-word glowing testimonial. Use short snippets that you can implement into pitches or focus on your owned media wins. The bigger your customer base gets, the bigger your case studies will get.
It’s important that as a SaaS startup you understand from the get-go that your product or service alone is not enough to secure media coverage. But this is where these PR hacks come in. Implementing some of these into your SaaS startup’s marketing strategy may help you get the edge on your competitors in an increasingly saturated market.
Written by Mark Linsdell, Marketing Associate at PR agency Publicize, who specialize in PR for SaaS companies and other tech verticals.