software leads, software appointments, lead generationPublic relations for IT companies is very much a part of the software lead generation process. Although PR alone isn’t likely to give you software sales appointments ready for closing, it does help fire up the lead generation engine, especially for IT startups that typically have a very small marketing base to begin working with. This post looks at six low-cost PR tips that any software startup can apply in their lead generation strategy.

Startups face a daunting uphill climb in every aspect of their business. Aside from having to rely on limited manpower and other resources to carry out the core operations, they also have administrative and selling activities to worry about. That’s why a lot of fledgling enterprises understandably leave critical marketing components like public relations out of their list of priorities.

Still, the value of good PR in software lead generation cannot be overstated enough. Startups have to find ways to gain some decent amount of press exposure for their young enterprise or risk falling into obscurity. The following tips may just be what the PR doctor ordered:

1. Connect and network. Social media has empowered small businesses to build relationships not only with customers and vendors but with key influencers like members of the press and bloggers/online writers that can be the vehicles you need to spread the word about your unknown brand. Begin your journey with a single step by connecting with your local media and bloggers then working your way toward broader coverage.

2. Consider online PR resources. There are vast numbers of online resources that offer free (or virtually free) press release distribution. These sites help you get newsworthy items about your company to reach various media outlets as well as other related services. Press release distribution also has the added benefit of being ranked higher by search engines like Google which, in turn, increases your potential for IT and software leads.

3. Leverage other marketing devices. A traditional and inexpensive marketing channel to extend your PR efforts is through emails. However, for PR purposes, you won’t be relying on the typical bulk email blasts. Instead, you’re going to use emails to distribute PR materials to relevant media practitioners on a more personal basis. Direct mails can also be an option if the costs involved fall within the “low” threshold.

4. Strive for awards/recognition. There’s simply no substitute for the PR your business can generate from winning an award or being recognized in a contest. Entrepreneurial competitions, software design contests, small business awards, rankings and shortlists, etc. can be your company’s ticket to the limelight. Furthermore, award-giving bodies can be your company’s sources not only for bragging rights but, in many cases, for additional capital as well.

5. Engage with your local community. Giving something back to the locality that you operate in can also be an ideal source of good publicity. Participating in speaking engagements and other community-centered events has the benefit of enabling your company to become more visible as well as providing opportunities to network.

6. Display your PR portfolio. Creating a PR portfolio involves compiling all your PR assets, whether digital or print, for easier referencing. For example, you may want to create a page on your site that contains all the links to your press releases. In the case of print media, you may opt to have copies of press coverage included in your sales kit.

A key thing to remember about PR is that it’s not the be-all and end-all of lead generation. In fact, PR can only take you so far as to get the initial phases of the campaign started. It’s what you do with the PR results you’ve generated that matters in the final analysis. Do you have a PR strategy in place right now?