A startup’s goals are varied. Developing a product or service, beginning to acquire customers or getting noticed by potential future investors are often at the forefront of founders’ thoughts. A lot of this comes down to brand awareness which can be difficult for a small startup to achieve. This is why startups need to think about promoting themselves through an effective PR strategy.
A strong PR strategy can be vital for startups. Gaining share of voice in a crowded marketplace can drive increased sales and being the main voice in a growing market allows startups to dominate consumer thoughts when they are looking to make a purchasing decision. Having a well laid out and consistent PR strategy will undoubtedly allow startups to accelerate their growth.
By their very nature, startups will have few customers, and brand awareness will be low in the marketplace. Few will know of what you offer and the quality of it. PR offers startups a way of getting third party validation of their product or service to improve their credibility and trust with consumers. This in turn increases the number of consumers coming to the business and the number of customers willing to make purchases.
Startups’ business models often target a specific sector before branching their solution out to other industries. PR allows companies to target a specific industry with great accuracy. Unlike advertising or marketing, PR is able to select a vertical or verticals to reach key decision makers at potential customers in a B2B environment and a specific segment of society if it is a B2C product. The ROI of PR therefore is often higher than that of other marketing activities and offers a great way for cash-strapped startups to reach them.
How startups can start their PR journey
Hiring a full time PR professional or agency is a luxury that many startups can’t afford. But until they can, there are still things that founders can do to start off their journey. It’s all about spotting your company’s news moments, capitalising on them and identifying other opportunities to continue the ‘drum beat’ of coverage.
Identifying these news moments is vital and the most important of this is the launch announcement. Putting together a press release and sharing it with the key press targets is a must. Selecting who you are aiming your release at and identifying the journalists your target audience are likely to read, is a great place to start your strategy for reaching your potential consumer.
Thought leadership is a great way to exhibit your startup’s expertise. Rather than promoting your product or service directly, this format allows key spokespeople to show off their personal expertise and share their long form views on key verticals that the business is targeting. This improves the credibility of the business through the expertise of the leaders. The main issue that startups have with thought leadership is linking the process together from start to finish. You must think of suitable angles, find the appropriate journalist and then write the piece, all in a tight timeframe to make sure you capture your audience whilst the topic is still relevant.
Alternatively, comment opportunities are short and snappy so can offer greater flexibility. Do you have a view on the Chancellor’s latest support package? That’s where PR professionals step in to help formulate short, snappy quotes on a topic for inclusion in an article, expressing your opinion on a particular topic.
These are all great ways to raise the profile and build the credibility of your startup. To be able to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, FieldHouse Associates has recently launched Basecamp. Instead of a full-service retainer, which is realistically too expensive for most early-stage companies, BaseCamp is a curated subscription service for proactive startups with ambition but smaller budgets.
Once you have the basic brand building blocks in place, you can then look to expand your PR offering and watch your business grow. It is never too early for a brand to strategically implement PR to reach these goals, whether that be getting into startup and investor press to reach investors or consumer titles to gain market share, now is the best time to start to build a PR strategy.
Cordelia Meacher is the Founder of FieldHouse Associates, an award-winning communications consultancy, who work with high growth businesses to achieve their strategic goals – using PR as a tool for impact. https://www.linkedin.com/in/cordeliameacher/