PR Strategies & Resources for Indian Consumer Startups

Every other day, I get LinkedIn messages, Facebook requests, emails, and Twitter mentions from sincere entrepreneurs or PR professionals about featuring their startup on Techmeme. I cannot possibly continue to respond to each one individually, hence this post for reference.

Before you start reaching out to premier tech sites about coverage for your startup, clarify your immediate goals for the PR exercise:

  • Are you at the stage where your internal team is finished with its dogfooding and now are looking for more users to alpha-test your service?
  • Are you done with alpha-testing and looking to expand your userbase for a wider beta-test to test capacity planning and gather more real-world feedback?
  • Do you have a 100k+ userbase and are looking for VC funding?

Different requirements need different PR strategies.

Social Media

A website, a blog, a Facebook Page and a Twitter account can be your first PR step to expand from internal dogfooding to limited alpha-testing. Some startups expand even more to a wider beta test using just social media.

Spread word of mouth through social media, and you will find there are many tech enthusiasts, early adopters, and influencers out there willing to try out anything new. Early adopters and influencers often give you early feedback that is critical to aligning your product to actual user needs, and this is best done before you think of PR.

At the same time, your social media presence should adequately and appropriately respond to all user feedback. Whether it is the Twitter mentions, Facebook comments or comments on your blog posts, each and every one is a potential influencer and you should be there to listen and respond.

Technology Blogs Focused On India

For reaching a wider userbase for expanded beta-testing, you can reach out to quite a few tech blogs that cover Indian startups. It is better to do this on your own, without any need for a PR agency. Here are some blogs that are interested in covering Indian startups:

Once you get such coverage, you will probably need a dedicated person to handle your social media presence, which remains a priority.

Premier Tech Blogs

When you are ready to expand full-steam and are looking for the best online coverage out there, you need to be featured on TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. For some tips on this, read this Quora thread.

General Tips

  • Develop relationships with bloggers & journalists who cover your space. Read Chris Dixon’s tips for interacting with press. You should be following journalists, bloggers, investors, VCs, editors on Twitter and participate in the conversation.
  • Plan PR for major events in your lifecycle – Beta Testing, Series A, and so on.
  • Do you need / should you hire an external PR firm? Here are some good benchmarks from Mahesh Murthy to consider when making that vital decision.

Other Resources

I hope this post helps Indian entrepreneurs in their marketing efforts. There is no short-cut to PR, it is a time-intensive effort that takes a lot of planning and effort.

If you are in a profession where you facilitate PR for startups and would like to be mentioned/listed here, please leave a comment and I will do the needful after review.

Oh and by the way, Techmeme is not a content-producer, but an aggregator. Techmeme doesn’t cover all the startups that are covered by the premier tech blogs, either.

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  • HA HA KHAN

    “Every other day, I get LinkedIn messages, Facebook requests, emails, and Twitter mentions from sincere entrepreneurs or PR professionals about featuring their startup on Techmeme”

    The truth is that this is a offpage SEO article. The truth is that in India, most of those strategies do not work since the average no of comments on any blog are just about zero. Indians are too clever for their own good and that is the problem. Indian Facebook pages can never have engagement because Indians are ‘just like that’. As an example, see Vodaphone’s facebook page (INDIAN) and tell me if you found even one comment there which can be called ‘engagement’. In spite of a million fans that is. Stop misleading people, especially thee new start ups, simply for link building and SEO. The best way out there is to roll your sleeves and be on the road, in offices, talk to people. And stay away from social media. Not even one post of yours on Facebook will reach anyone of your fans. Pay first to get ‘fans’ and then pay to advertise i.e. show your post to them. And even then, the post does not reach them, it reaches their friends. Very soon, you’ll have Facebook showing your promoted posts to those newsfeeds which are low in feed content i.e. to all the people sitting in the villages of India. And you have no control of where your promoted post is being sent, even if you use the power editor. Stop telling people to use social media. It is a trap for smaller businesses, especially in India where the real digital population, worthy of attention, is less than 1 million. But to reach it, you will burn a houseful of money. Flyers work best in India. Target them, instead of using social media. Twitter and Linkedin do not allow ads unless your budget is more than 15k and 20k dollars respectively.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Hello, Anonymous Ha ha Khan,

    If you care to read the Disclosure on my blog, you will realize that I have no benefit from driving SEO to this site. If you think I am misleading people for link building and SEO, you are sadly mistaken.

    Being on the road, in offices, talking to people works better for enterprise oriented startups and I had thought about including that in my initial draft, but then decided to restrict myself to consumer startups since I did not think I was qualified to offer an opinion on enterprise startups. If flyers work better for you, that is great.

    From the tone of your comment, it is clear that social media has proven unfruitful to your efforts, perhaps because of reasons I hinted at in my post. There are no short-cuts to marketing. Leaving comments such as yours above are certainly a sure-fire way to distance yourselves from any fruitful use of social media, which is why you perhaps are using an anonymous profile? The tone of your comment indicates how you would interact online to distance even your most likely customers.

  • Saraswathi Pulluru

    Great article. I would also like to include TheTechPanda, which is dedicated to cover Indian Startups. Thank you.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Thank you, added.

  • http://www.infotrac.in

    you have added good and many resources to look upto before venturing in a startup. thanks for the detail.

  • GVFX

    Thanks for sharing all the details.