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The other day, I came across this thread on Reddit’s r/dataisbeautiful sub (Reddit has lured me down many late-night rabbit-holes lately. Have you seen some of the stuff on there?!) from a programmer who created a graph to show the effect that media coverage had on app downloads for their to-do-list app.

The graph illustrates how app downloads spiked by the hundreds when it was featured in Fast Company, Oprah, and CNN. Not surprisingly, Oprah had the most explosive effect as pretty much everything she endorses takes off or becomes President of the United States. Her ‘O’ magazine catapulted the app from a few downloads a day to over 800, with significant residual effects persisting for months after the feature.

Here’s a look at the full graph:
Screenshot 2016-01-22 12.08.19

We often talk about the explosive power that PR can have in creating attention for our entrepreneurial endeavors and this graph illustrates some of it’s potential. Quite simply, the right placements in the right publications can drive tremendous upticks in lead generation, user acquisition, and overall growth.

Case in point: BMV recently experienced this first-hand with our startup PR efforts for Bark’N’Borrow. We helped the community for dog lovers, which offers users the chance to “borrow” dogs for playdates, with their official launch this past November. Prior to the launch, the company had been quietly testing its app in the Los Angeles area and really only had a handful of active users.

As part of the launch strategy, we secured a feature story in the New York Times. When the story hit on November 12, the results were, well… pretty F’ing incredible! As soon as the story ran online, we saw an explosion across social media. In just a couple of hours, the NYT piece had been shared over 10,000 times. And the buzz was just starting to snowball.

Over the next few days, several other outlets, including  Elite Daily, Fast Company and Fortune had picked up the Bark’N’Borrow’s launch story. In less than four days, the story was shared over 100,000 times across social media, resulting in 20k+ new app downloads/users in less than four days. The app also broke into the top 10 most popular apps in the iTunes store.

Today, in a little more than two short months since the app launched, Bark’N’Borrow has more than 50k users across their platform. So for all of the naysayers out there who doubt whether PR has a place in helping startups grow, do the math. One well-placed feature took an amazing idea and virtually turned it into a business overnight.

Getting to the question that’s surely on your mind right now: “How the hell can my startup’s launch story get that kind of media love?!”

In the case of most early-stage startups — those without significant amounts of funding, famous backers,  or an impressive user base — launching from relative obscurity into a crowded marketplace is an incredibly hard thing to do and usually results in *crickets*.

While most startups have the potential to attract some sort of media interest around their launch (remember, your PR program is only as good as your media list!), the key is learning how to maximize the type of attention you receive. In order to do that, start by answering these three simple but important questions*:

  • How do we tell our story in a way that overshadows the fact that we are so young and don’t have a lot of data to validate us?
  • Who in the media has an audience that our story most likely to resonate with?  
  • How can we create a hands-on experience for this person that knocks their socks off?

While the Bark’N’Borrow case study is the exception and not the rule, if you’re able to answer these questions, chances are you can get the type of media attention for your launch that actually translates into real growth.

*This should be pretty obvious, but if your product isn’t ready for prime time, then you aren’t ready for media attention.

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