Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grass Roots PR - RoundUp for StartUps

When our client, Chris Gay, came to us with his latest idea, we were eager to learn more. He is the mastermind behind Texas’ first pay-by-the-mile auto insurance company, and is about to launch his second start-up, Zengine. We knew whatever he had up his sleeve would be innovative, and we were right!

His idea was born when he started recruiting to staff his new venture, and came to the disappointing realization that there was a severe drought in Dallas’ tech talent pool. So, he had the idea to bring the start-up community together for a social recruiting event unlike any of its kind in the region. He wanted to call it, “RoundUp for StartUps,” and he wanted our help promoting it. We knew this would be a fun, but challenging project.

We set out by drafting a 3 month-long PR plan, mapping out our activities week-by-week. First we researched. And then we researched some more. We started with a list of local and tech media, and then set out to find appropriate contacts at every major College or University in the region. We also got on to find tech and engineering related groups in DFW that might be interested in attending the RoundUp event. We started a Twitter feed @roundupstartups to help us spread the word in this social sphere and send direct messages to colleges, groups and media across the region. We left no stone unturned.

Our outreach was traditional and very grassroots. It consisted of direct media pitching, direct and social media correspondence with Colleges and Universities as well as local/regional start-up, tech and entrepreneur-driven organizations, a BusinessWire distribution and consistent communication with all the companies participating in the event. Our biggest hit came from the Dallas Morning News, where reporter Sheryl Jean not only touted the event, but explained the logic behind it. Tons of IT positions exist in Dallas, yet talent is frequently lost to the East and West coasts. This media hit had Chris’ phone ringing off the hook the morning it ran. It even landed him on a speaking panel three days later at UTD to discuss building a startup team – another opportunity to spread the word about RoundUp for StartUps to a captive audience. He has received numerous invitations since then to serve as a guest speaker at other like-minded entrepreneurial organizations.

We would say our grassroots media campaign utilizing traditional and non-traditional media tactics has been a success and it’s not even event day! Today, two days before the big event, we have received nearly 500 RSVPs. More than 30 companies are participating and combined they are looking to fill nearly 130 jobs. Do you know a recent graduate or tech professional looking to join an innovative startup company in Dallas? Let them know they should join us at this free event. There will be two hours of networking, followed by two hours of entertainment and socializing. Oh, and did we mention it was at a brewery? All they have to do is RSVP!

This post was contributed by Shelby Menczer

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