Last year saw a record breaking 526,446 new startups created, with 2014 set to beat this record once more. But getting your great idea off the ground and in front of key decision makers can be tricky – which is where PR can help. Not only is it a great way for entrepreneurs to spark the interest of venture capitalists or crowd funders who can help turn a great idea into a lucrative reality, but it can also generate media interest to boost a company’s recognition within the market, enhance its reputation, and increase engagement with its target audience.
Here are some key tips to make PR work for your start-up
Think about the result and work backwards
The first – and perhaps most important point to remember – is that all PR activity should align with your start-up’s objectives. What do you want to achieve from your PR activity? Some start-ups will be looking for investment, but others may be going it alone in which case your objectives are to promote what your company does and why this is important, and to circulate your brand messaging to target customers. Brand recognition and increased publicity can propel your start-up into the spotlight, giving it a fighting chance of becoming an established and well-known name.
Sell your story
Human-interest stories gain much more traction than corporate announcements, so spend time developing the personal stories behind your brand. Emotive stories – such as obstacles to starting up, an unusual place from which your first inspiration originated, or a unique concept your brand promotes – will help to capture the attention of journalists and readers alike, and start to spark engagement with your target audience.
Ready, aim, fire!
Careful consideration is needed when beginning PR activity for any start-up. It is easy to fall into the mistake of aiming for the biggest and most sought-after publications, but it is important to ask: Are these readers relevant to us? Will they turn into lucrative consumers or potential investors for our brand? Depending on the nature of your product or service, it may be more effective to begin with small, niche publications relevant to your company to ensure relevant coverage is secured to help you on your way to building a strong and trusted reputation. This is not to say that you should ignore the larger publications – and if you have a truly groundbreaking and unique aspect with a ‘news hook’ then opt for a big outlet – but do keep relevance in the back of your mind.
Content is key
It can seem baffling to those new to PR activity, but it is important not to approach journalists armed with your greatest achievements and a list of how great your start-up idea is because they hear from budding entrepreneurs with great ideas on a daily basis. Journalists want news – enticing updates on topical issues surrounding the industry in which your company is making waves, or the launch of your product endorsed by its first major client or industry figure.
If you can build a topical angle into your pitch and provide expert comment on the latest developments within your industry you will find that journalists will be much more receptive to your ideas. At the same time you have demonstrated your knowledge and expertise within the relevant marketplace, which is extremely valuable.
Retain campaign focus
In the world of advertising there are many groundbreaking campaigns and adventurous ideas available – often with large budgets to match – but it is vital to stay focused. And the same is true for PR. For instance, will the publicity help your company progress towards its goal, or will it require significant resource but very little outcome? Without asking this critical question, you could be wasting budget or resources that are potentially already spread thinly.
Ultimately start-ups can benefit enormously from effective PR activity and can quickly be propelled into recognition within the right circles. By keeping the above points in mind, your start-up can earn the attention of key influencer groups and begin to profit from the increased awareness of the brand, all together providing the effective means to continue to grow and nurture your start-up from an early stage.