Building the next household technology name to “ring the opening bell” at the New York Stock Exchange doesn’t happen overnight. Household-name status requires a game-changing product and a steady stream of top-tier media coverage, something that also doesn’t happen overnight.
HubSpot is exactly that type of company that accomplished both.
On its march toward a $125 million IPO, HubSpot showed that, in addition to best-of-breed technology, tech companies needed to embrace a proactive media relations strategy. Let’s take a look at how HubSpot leveraged their funding rounds — nearly one round per year from 2006 to 2012 — as newsworthy events and elevated their media coverage from blog posts in the early days to feature stories in TechCrunch for its Series E announcement.
Series A: September 1, 2007 – $5 million
Press releases published on a company blog are a great way to announce funding, especially for very young companies that have not yet built out a full marketing and communications team, and that is exactly what HubSpot did for its Series A announcement.
However, the reach of company blogs are limited without a dedicated campaign strategy behind them. Experienced PR professionals have established relationships with reporters and publications and can drive coverage through those relationships.
Series C: October 19, 2009 – $16 million
HubSpot started picking up funding-based mentions with their Series C announcement in the form of industry blogs. Trade blogs often get downplayed; however, this type of coverage lays a strong foundation and helps a business pass what we call “the sniff test.” Do non-owned results come up when you Google the company name? If not, you’re not likely passing the initial sniff. Third party trade blogs lend legitimacy in the early days.
You’ll notice that one of the blogs questions HubSpot’s stability. An announcement with a well-crafted release and an interview strategy with HubSpot’s executives could have helped quash fears of financial stability by connecting executives with media personalities. One-to-one connections with reporters can go a long way to telling a story through — and beyond — a press release.
Pro tip: When you plan to announce funding, ensure you plan to have the CEO or founders make time for media interviews.
Series D: March 8, 2011 – $32 million
Now, HubSpot is starting to cook with gas.
Led by little investment shops known as Sequoia, Google Ventures, and Salesforce.com </sarcasm>, HubSpot’s Series D round saw a healthy mix of media coverage from trade publications, industry blogs and financial press.
While tech press as we know it today was still in its infancy in 2011, and the diversity of coverage increased for the Series D announcement, it would be nice to see more interviews with executives and investment leaders for this announcement.
Pro tip: Developing thought leadership makes business leaders a part of the conversation and not just the subject of it. Public relations professionals can leverage their relationships with reporters to develop an angle that speaks to readers and builds credibility.
Series E: November 5, 2012 – $35 million
If HubSpot was cooking with gas for its Series D announcement, it was cooking with jet fuel for its Series E.
HubSpot secured Boston-local coverage, a feature story in TechCrunch, conducted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) with founder/CTO Dharmesh Shah and was spotted as a possible IPO target in VentureBeat and InfoWorld.
With this diversity of coverage, HubSpot is hitting all four pillars of B2B SaaS PR: investors, employees, partners and customers.
Whether you plan to announce funding of $100,000 or $100 million, you should plan to leverage a partner that can speak to all four levels of SaaS stakeholders. Each announcement should build on the success of the previous announcement and guide your company to its own IPO.