For startups, public relations can be an oft-forgotten area, pushed aside amid the day to day tasks of running a business. Not to mention that it can be expensive and time-consuming. However, DWPub has spoken to seasoned PR experts to find out how PR can work for startups and how to go about it.
Is PR the best method?
Firstly, a startup needs to work out whether PR should be invested in at all. Will it add value to your business? Will it increase sales? Alternative tactics such as direct sales may work better depending on what stage of growth the company is in. Once the business basics are in place, having a clear brand identity, solid narrative (what you do and why it matters) and knowing how you want to be seen is vital to get the most out of PR.
Do you need a PR agency?
Investing in a PR strategy doesn’t necessarily mean someone else has to do it. Business owners know their company and product the best and can do some simple PR themselves as long as they follow the basics – know the brand, the audience and who to pitch to. If you do decide to get some outside help, however, Grayling CEO Alison Clarke suggests making sure the agency or freelancer is aligned with the company’s ethos and knows its business objectives inside out.
Where to start?
Pick up the phone and get known by the local newspaper’s business news desk, Raman Sehgal suggests. As a startup, business journalists will be interested in what you do. And building relationships with them is key – providing case studies, spokespeople and opinions on industry issues is a good start, followed by some campaign activity, a presence on social media and SEO. It’s also a good idea to be adaptive and respond to changes in the industry to get noticed.
Find your niche. To get your company heard in what may be an overcrowded sector, make sure you are clear of your differentiator. Identify recognisable unique selling points and target the right people. Startups can benefit from having a strong spokesperson to communicate this message. ‘Be bold, be brave and be better,’ David Vindel of Ketchum tells us.
Don’t expect fame
Use PR to engage key influencers and help build your business, not simply to get on the front page of the FT. Start small and stay focused to get the maximum benefit from PR to turn into sales.
PR requires a lot of thought, preparation and effort for it to result in more clients and higher revenue. It can take some time to build momentum, so be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Farzana Baduel of Curzon PR advises: “PR is really only effective if it is consistent and strategic. There is little point in going in for PR unless you can afford to sustain it.”