3 Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Tech Startup Market

With fewer journalists than there once were, our PR expert explores how to sell your own story in a meaningful way.

Written by Julie Karbo
Published on Jun. 13, 2024
3 Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Tech Startup Market
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As is the case in many industries, media saw a record number of jobs cut in 2023, including a 6x increase from 2022 with layoffs projected to increase in 2024.

This unfortunate decline in journalist roles creates a bigger need for tech startups and their leadership teams to break through the noise and differentiate themselves from competitors, as there are less chances to secure impactful media coverage with fewer journalists covering the tech startup space.

All is not lost for those who want to stand out in a crowded market. Public relations has trended beyond simply securing media coverage around product launches — it permeates all areas of the business, including customer stories, executive branding, corporate social responsibility and more. 

Here’s how you can effectively stand out in the noisy tech startup space.

3 PR Tips for Tech Startups

  • Clearly define your value proposition from the very beginning.
  • Research the reporters you talk to and give them a hook they can easily use.
  • Build a thought leadership platform.

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How to Define Yourself Early

It’s critical that founders are able to clearly and concisely articulate the value proposition of their products. This means being able to contextualize the problem, the market need and identify the struggles they are solving for their customers in ways that no one else is.

Think about positioning yourself as a painkiller versus a vitamin. Having hard metrics and early customer use cases also serve as strong third-party validators that can help your company stand out.

Conduct a messaging workshop and develop a solid story foundation during the early stages of your company’s development so you can develop narratives that resonate and start evangelizing credibility in support of all areas: hiring, fundraising, sales and partnership development. 

PR is an important tool in the marketing toolbox. Of the thousands of startup founders I’ve worked with over the years, the majority find it to be the most impactful and cost-effective vehicle to create awareness and leadership. 


How to Make Your Story Newsworthy

Let’s talk more about messaging. Ask yourself the following key questions.

  • What fundamental pain am I addressing for a viable market?
  • What unique features, benefits and approach am I taking?
  • What credible internal and external sources can I use to validate my claims?

When you have the opportunity to connect directly with press, it’ll be important to articulate your unique selling proposition and deposition your competition in digestible soundbites.

So long as you have the metrics and use cases to back it up, don’t be afraid to call out your competitors by name and explain how your company differentiates and why your solutions are better. 

Before speaking with a reporter, do your homework and study the recent stories they’re telling. Be informed about the types of stories different journalists publish. For example, do they always include multiple sources in a piece? Do they only want to speak to customers? Do they rely heavily on quotes from experts?

Whatever you say, you’ll want to make sure it’s unique and your expert insight or commentary isn’t duplicative of what’s already being said in the space. Either focus on a unique problem, approach or take a contrarian tact to an existing problem.

Unless you are speaking to a reporter explicitly about a new product or company launch, don’t use this as a time to be promotional. Sell yourself and your vision and weave in the need the world has for your product or solution.

Relate back to the wider business sphere or industry landscape so there’s context as to how what you are doing fits and is important right now. A reporter will be more likely to include your commentary in an article if there is a well-timed hook, i.e., a timely reason why they need to tell this story right now.

Reporters won’t always be as familiar with your technical market, so explain to them what you do as if you’re talking to a lay audience. Don’t assume reporters know the ins and outs of your market. Especially given the recent shifts in the media landscape, roles are condensing, which means that it’s not uncommon for a reporter to cover a broader range of beats.

That said, try to avoid using jargon or define it in context when you must use it. Simplify what you do and talk in colorful analogies. You want to be memorable.

Finally, you want to make it easy for a reporter to push the story over the finish line. Connect them with sources, provide them with compelling data, etc. This not only helps them but also adds credibility and context to your story.

Sources and third-party validators are more important than ever. Providing something unique or exclusive in this regard can also increase the newsworthiness of your story.

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How to Become a Thought Leader

These days it’s quite common for big-box brands to make thought leadership a priority, but it’s just as important that tech startups do the same from the jump.

Don’t be afraid to make bold, visionary, contrarian statements about the industry or market. Thought leaders are confident in their commentary and aren’t shy about communicating what they think will or should happen in the market.

Successful thought leadership comes in many forms. From contributed articles and your own social media content, to serving as a resource to a reporter as they write a story on a trending industry topic or breaking news.

There are many ways to build your personal thought leadership platform. The main goal is to be consistent. Building a strategic and consistent thought leadership platform elevates an executive’s profile, establishes credibility and positions them as an authority in the space, all while winning consumer awareness.

The train doesn’t stop when a piece of thought leadership content is published. It’s important to engage with the content and cross-promote it on your company and personal social channels. The goal is to drive more eyes to the piece while also building goodwill with the reporter or publishing platform.


Be Creative and Strategic

Public relations is a time-tested way to secure awareness and garner market leadership. Used strategically, creatively and consistently, it’s a winning strategy that will contribute greatly to your success.

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