In our latest V+ CMO Forum session for our portfolio companies’ Heads of Marketing, we featured a topic that continues to be an ongoing pain point for startup marketers everywhere: How to achieve effective global PR – whether you have money to spend on it or not. Our guest speakers each shared some ideas on how to do just that, and here’s a summary of their tips.

Hillel Fuld   Hillel Fuld is Co-founder and CMO at ZCast and has been a Tech blogger and startup advisor in Israel for over a decade.

Over the years, Hillel has experimented with and honed PR ‘hacks’ that don’t require a budget – but rather gumption and perseverance.

Here are some of his top PR tips:

TIP 1: Read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss – a book that “fundamentally changed Hillel’s life”, especially the chapter on “Canvas Strategy”. The Canvas Strategy basically says that the way to do business today, is “to build a canvas for other people to create masterpieces on… to pave a road for other people to go down on their way to success. If you do that – if you facilitate success for others – you’ll end up going down that road as well.”

Tim suggests that we should “be lesser and do more” because the cumulative effect over time of helping others – not so that you can get something back in return but rather to genuinely help people – is that you develop a reputation for being indispensable, you develop genuine relationships, and you create “an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.”

The canvas strategy is about helping yourself by helping others and making a concerted effort to trade your short-term gratification for a longer-term payoff… “Let others take credit – on credit – while you defer and take interest on the principal.”

Hillel agrees and believes that this is the fundamental principle of PR, marketing, branding etc.

TIP 2:
Build PR value by creating relationships that are based on genuine emotional connections. This involves learning how to really listen (“You have two ears and one mouth – use them in that ratio”). It’s a long-term PR strategy but by taking the necessary time to learn about the journalists and influencers you want to build relationships with and figuring out how you can best help them and be valuable to them, eventually your company will become “the Red Bull of your space”.

TIP 3:
Create real relationship for long-term PR value.
Hillel shares a couple of anecdotes about how he came to interview Marc Andreessen and Steve Wozniak and how both interviews have impacted on his personal PR value. He also talks about the importance of Content Marketing to your PR effort: “You’re writing content in order to elevate your brand so that PR can do their job more easily.”

TIP 4:
Begin PR efforts for your startup even before your product has launched.
Hillel argues that It’s not only important for you to do PR for your product even before it’s ready, but that it’s arguably the most important time to start your PR efforts, because if you can generate enough buzz and interest in your product during this time, by the time your startup is out of stealth mode, you’ll have an eager audience of potential users who already know that you “exist”.

TIP 5:
Whatever your frequency for publishing blog posts – make sure that it’s consistent.
Hillel happens to be an advocate for writing as many blog posts as possible as often as possible, rather than one epic blog post every once in a while, because the more you publish, the more opportunities there are for people to read and talk about your company. Obviously, quality is important too, and not all startups have the resources to produce huge volumes of content all the time, but whatever your publishing frequency, it must be consistent so that people can depend on hearing about your offering on a regular basis.


Jonny Steel   Jonny Steel is VP Marketing at Payoneer (a Viola Ventures portfolio company) whose mission is to empower global commerce with their innovative cross-border payments platform.

Based in New York, Payoneer is ranked in the top 100 of Inc. 5000’s Financial Services companies, serving over 3 million users in over 200 countries, so Jonny is highly experienced not only in PR in general but also in managing PR efforts internationally.

Here are some highlights from his talk on how to best use your budget to maximize your global PR efforts:

TIP 6: Milk successful PR campaigns for all their worth to impress potential investors, influencers and employees. Although one-off, large-scale PR ‘stunts’ usually offer only temporary brand lift, the cumulative effect of these types of opportunities can help build the company’s profile. It’s also effective for HR efforts, because when potential employees who aren’t familiar with the company dig into the its activities, successful past PR campaigns can go a long way towards establishing a great impression of a company that does “cool” or “important” newsworthy things.

TIP 7:
When launching new offices or branches in other countries, create PR launch events and capitalize on any local press coverage to extend the buzz for as long as possible.
Make sure that you invite the right executives to represent the company at the launch, as this may differ from country to country based on local press expectations.

TIP 8 & 9:
Use customer case studies to create “human interest” stories (even if it’s not your biggest customers). Also, combine a few small stories into one to create a “momentum” piece.
In the clip below, Jonny presents a nice example of how showcasing even a “small” customer can still help to generate effective PR for your company thanks to the “human interest” factor. He also talks about creating “momentum” PR pieces, which is basically when you have a few small stories that aren’t newsworthy enough to be impactful on their own, but when combined, you can create a newsworthy narrative around them.

TIP 10 & 11:
Leverage data from your company to establish authority.
Also, timing is everything in PR so always be aware of timeliness to maximize your PR campaigns. Use surveys and other data at your company’s disposal to create benchmark studies, reports and eBooks that are relevant to your industry. This is especially effective when the data is proprietary because when you publish it, it lends credibility and authority to your brand. It’s also the type of thing that the media loves, and findings/stats from these studies are often quoted long after they are published, adding an evergreen PR channel for your company.

Jonny also talks about the importance of timeliness of PR campaigns. A brilliant initiative or piece of content that’s topical can still amount to a missed PR opportunity if it’s presented too late to coincide with an event that’s time-sensitive or of has a limited lifespan.

Tip 12:
Use awards and lists to strengthen your company’s credibility.
Although ranked lists and awards recognizing various companies for various achievements are often based on “un-scientific” selections, most people don’t tend to question their validity, and lists and awards are usually enthusiastically consumed, and therefore carry influence. If you can get your company to appear in reputable lists or be considered for industry-recognized awards, it’s great for PR, but if you can’t, you might want to consider initiating your own list or running your own award competitions. Companies usually appreciate being mentioned among a select group so they will inadvertently help generate buzz for your self-created lists or awards, and once they gain momentum, it can result in PR exposure and establish your brand as an authority in your industry.

To watch more Viola Notes videos, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.