Your Marketing Team
We recommend having a marketing and promotions lead who will oversee all marketing efforts by the Startup Week marketing team. Supporting roles for the lead can be outsourced to other volunteers or to a contractor if you have the budget for it. These roles include:
PR Lead: Responsible for media relations for Startup Week and the alternate spokesperson (apart from the lead organizer).
Advertising Lead: Responsible for creating a plan for and managing the process of (paid or trade) advertising for Startup Week. Digital, print, or otherwise, you’ll lead the charge and ensure Startup Week ad messages are being dispersed in your community.
Social Media Lead: Responsible for the social media channels of your city’s Startup Week. This includes crafting, posting, and responding to messages before, during, and after Startup Week.
Email Marketing Lead: Responsible for writing and sending email communications to your email list before, each day of, and after Startup Week.
We want you to be able to focus your efforts on educating and energizing your community, and we’ve therefore put together a few promotional strategies to support you along the way.
There are communities who have never heard of Techstars Startup Week. It’s important to provide the necessary education through your outreach which includes an overview of Startup Week, the mission and core values. This also helps potential attendees and sponsors to determine if this event is right for them and if their goals align with those of Startup Week.
Communicate the Value
Be sure to clearly communicate the value of participating in, or supporting, a Startup Week. We’ve found that communicating a consistent vision to potential participants, sponsors, mentors, and the community at large goes a long way and will help with registration and raising sponsorship.
Startup Week is 100% free to attend, which removes the barriers to mentorship and networking that are usually associated with expensive conferences.
We facilitate networking and connection by hosting various networking events and providing opportunities for serendipitous connections.
We provide access to quality mentors who are influential industry and subject matter experts, keen to support their local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Make sure that you share information about who your mentors will be on social media.
We curate content for the week — you’ll hear from entrepreneurs who have had valuable experiences to share with you and inspire you.
Do not underestimate the power of traditional media outlets. While most of us are tapped into various social media channels, there are lots of people who still get their information from newspapers and TV news channels. Find journalists in your area who cover business and technology news who might be open to covering your event.
Morning shows are always looking for content, so pitch them your story and you’re likely to be interviewed live on the air.
Consider partnering with your local business journal. They might also be willing to put together an insert highlighting your Startup Week which can include a map of the venues you’re hosting events at, articles written by stakeholders (business leaders, speakers, local politicians, etc.), and advertisements from local sponsors.
The Right Audience
When you’re engaging in community outreach, make sure you’re including people from different backgrounds and locations, with different skill sets, who work in different industries. Diversity is key to bringing the community together and building a great local startup community.
Partnering for Optimal Media Coverage
Ask your sponsors if they would mind helping you with promotional outreach. They might have a larger local network, and it would give them an opportunity to show that they are supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. If your event falls after a local tech or entrepreneurship event, reach out to their organizing team to ask if they would be interested in cross-promotion.
Politicians also often get behind events that support economic development. By involving them early in the process, you can usually guarantee that they’ll contribute to the content by speaking, leading to more media coverage.
High-profile speakers can add a lot to the credibility of a Startup Week. They attract attendees and the media. We’ve found that a keynote or two during a Startup Week can be beneficial in attracting a great audience.
Some communities also find value in hosting a fireside chat for these individuals. The Q&A format usually leads to a more frank discussion and adds more value for entrepreneurs who are interested in the ins-and-outs of starting a business.
Task your track captains with finding high-profile speakers who could speak about their entrepreneurial journey in a way that your audience would find valuable. Invitations to speak do not include an offer of a fee. If they are from outside your community you should be willing to pay for their travel and lodging expenses, but we recommend not paying speaking fees which can be expensive.
Promotional Communication Schedule
We recommend kicking off your promotional activities as soon as possible. It helps to create a communication timeline which details your messaging at different stages of the planning process. Example promotional schedule:
At 6 months out:
Set up your event website and create a list of groups that you will be reaching out to — for example, specific universities, tech groups, or innovation programs.
At 5 months out:
Set up your social media accounts and make sure that these are up-to-date with all relevant information before you begin outreach.
Announce your event to the community for participation and attendance through social media channels, LinkedIn, a press release, flyers, stickers, and via a podcast.
At 3-4 months out:
Start a ‘countdown to your event’ in social media posts
Create a list of press and media leads who you can reach out to, like local newspaper, television, radio or podcast stations, online tech or entrepreneurship publications, and local online event guides or local newsletter distributors.
Reach out to your local Startup Digest curator to get the event featured in a newsletter. Find available digests.
At 2 months out:
Ask sponsors if they would be able to help you promote your event.
Since you’re launching your schedule around this time, share more about tracks, events and speakers in your promotional communications.
At 1 month out:
Keep the excitement going. Use your event hashtags and include hashtags like ‘#Techstars,’ ‘#Entrepreneurs,’ ‘#Community,’ ‘#Startups,’ and ‘#[city].’
Follow up with the community groups you haven’t heard back from yet and engage those who have responded.
Leave flyers/stickers at locations like local public libraries, coffee shops frequented by the tech community and students, universities, coworking spaces and innovation labs.
From 2 weeks out:
Plan for a final, big promotional push. Make sure your event is included in local event guides and tap into your own networks.
Communicate the importance of registering for events in your community and social communications.
Keep it going: Your promotional efforts don’t end once attendees have registered for events. Make sure you keep them engaged and informed, enhancing their experience and ensuring positive post-event feedback to include in your post-event sponsor report.
Use popular social platforms to thank your mentors, speakers, volunteers, and anyone else who helped make the event a success. An event blog is a great addition to your website and for wrapping up your event. It adds a personal touch and helps create buy-in for future Startup Weeks or other community events that you might want to run.
PR Tips & Tricks
Event Press Release
When creating a press release for your event, you must follow the approved Techstars template. The template provides you with the necessary framework to create a successful press release. Use key quotes from members of your organizing team or local leaders in the community, always include the main details of your event, and tailor the storytelling to make your press release stand out among the many submissions received by the media.
When your press release is complete, it must be submitted to Techstars for approval here. Please plan to leave at least 7 business days for review.
Today’s Media Landscape
There are fewer journalists, with greater workloads, covering more topics
It’s a noisy, crowded, and competitive storytelling market with more instability and unpredictability in the news cycle than ever before
Journalists compete with information flow (eyeballs, clicks, content engagement), including social media conversations, podcasts, short-form videos, etc. — audience engagement with what they publish is a critical KPI for their editors
Journalists make the decisions on what they cover and how the cover it
More than ever, PR storytelling has to be timely, relevant and make it easy for journalists
Journalists want fresh, on-trend ideas addressing topics their readers want to know about — if it is not immediately clear why a story is important for their readers, they pass
Press Releases are seen as a resource for facts, not a story idea
Access to experts and data gets more traction
Have a plan for what you’re going to say before you say it.
Key message: This is the primary take away you are looking to impart upon the final audience. What is the big picture you’re trying to get across? Be concise and make it easy to remember.
Supporting statements: Expand on the key message, explaining how/what/where/when/who.
Proof points: Come prepared with hard evidence (stats, trends, surveys) and soft evidence (success stories, positive feedback). How do you prove your messages?
Call to Action: Tell people how to put the information you are sharing to use. What do you want the reader/viewer to do?