Starting a new business is overwhelming enough -- let alone planning your marketing, communications, and public relations, or PR, strategies. However, the importance of PR for startup organizations must not be underestimated. PR helps startups project a favorable image to their target audience and the market overall, laying a foundation for reputation in the market and even introducing the company to new users.
Should you explore a short term strategy for PR, planning for brand awareness later on? Would a long term strategy be too expensive? Should you turn to an agency for help, or handle the work yourself in-house? Metis is here to help you answer some of your questions and take some of the pressure off the conversation of PR and your startup.
Should You Explore a Short-Term Strategy for Your Startup?
A short-term strategy may help you if your audience is found on quickly shifting platforms like social media. You can spread brand awareness and recognition quickly and repeatedly, or spread awareness of a promotion/sale. You can also change and test audiences quickly, since you will receive results faster than a typical PR strategy. Essentially, short term strategies work best on short term platforms. If they can, this may mean a short term strategy will work for your organization.
Consider if your customers can further your PR strategy later on, through the practice of “customer PR.” This means finding happy customers who are willing to recommend your company and/or your product to others, growing your customer base and offering leads. This is an extremely useful PR strategy for startups. If you create a waterfall of happy customers turned brand ambassadors, you can expand your customer base and your startup. This means turning a short term PR strategy into a long term one that can ultimately benefit your organization.
Consider where your audience may be located as well. If your audience can also be found on other platforms (not just social media), a short-term strategy won’t give you the reach or exposure that you are looking for. PR is often described as a marathon, not a sprint. The ultimate goal is to build relationships with the media, to later target your users and build trust.
PR & Your Startup
Your ultimate goal should be to ensure your company has regular appearances in the press and to build credibility with your audience. However, PR for startups has to be planned differently than for larger companies.
Now, why is that? If you’re a startup versus a company like Apple or Microsoft, you are starting from completely different areas. Corporations have the benefit of more established brand awareness and customer bases. Customers know what they are getting! They are more exposed to the corporation, due to an increase in PR spend. Your startup may have a limited budget to spend on PR and marketing, less brand awareness (if you have any), and you may have a much smaller target customer base. PR can define what the organization represents to the outside world- more specifically, to your customer base.
PR is invaluable to you as a startup. Why? Because you can determine your image and communicate that to your customers. You can define your own space in the market, carving out your own spot amongst the corporations. It will shape public perception of your brand, your products, your leadership. After all, PR creates perception. Perception, in the business world, is reality.
You should also consider if you want to do PR in-house, or if you want an experienced PR firm to help you. If you are looking to contact an outside PR firm, there are a few things to be aware of:
Plan a basic PR strategy, so the team isn’t starting from scratch
Research firms ahead of time to find the right fit/specializations for you
Communicate with your PR team as much as possible, be available for them!
A good PR strategy must specifically address the unique needs and challenges of being a startup. Essentially, you are starting with a clean slate and no brand awareness. Here are some guidelines to follow if you want to create a startup PR strategy for yourself.
Tips & Tricks for Startup PR Strategies
The focus of PR in startups is vastly different from strategies that corporations may be using and that you may be used to experiencing as a consumer. Your startup’s PR strategies should include changing the objectives and strategies you pursue, focusing more on long-term and short-term strategy mixes, and how to feed the media pipeline.
Prepare variations in strategies and execution plans, so you can see where you are getting better results. Don’t be afraid to test out different strategies! If you are a startup coffee shop, you can experiment with PR messaging around being the local hang-out and another saying you have high quality coffee not found anywhere else.
Successful starting objectives for PR and marketing look like→
Educating the public on your new product/service/idea
Raising funds to build or grow the business
Generating trials for your products or services
Acquiring new users and customers from your target audience
Attracting top talent to work at your business
Staking out your place amongst your competitors
Mix your long and short-term strategies. Short term strategies should include social media, reaching out to the media to offer stories/access, and highlighting your sales/services. Long term should focus more on that customer PR waterfall, customer testimonials, benefits/loyalty programs, the image the company projects to the public, etc. You should implement short and long term as you work through your PR strategies. Short term will attract immediate attention and quick customers. Long term will develop a customer base, a loyal target audience, and reach out to people who are not aware of your brand at all.
Don’t generalize your media reach. Aim at specific publications that support your PR strategy (if your goal is to raise funds, then you should target financial magazines). Being too general means you might miss the more specific publications that your target audience engages with on a daily basis.
Be clear about what message you want your audience to receive about your brand and what differentiates you from competitors. This will encourage brand consistency, ensuring that customers are receiving the same message. You don’t want to put vastly different messages out, as it can confuse your audience.
Observe the PR strategies of established companies to learn from them. How does Apple present itself as an organization? How do they involve customers in their marketing and PR tactics? How do they target a wider customer base? What are some of their practices that you could mimic on a smaller scale?
PR is invaluable for all startups. It can help you establish yourself in the market, spread word and goodwill of the company, and attract potential users or investors. A good and established PR strategy for your startup will offer a high ROI in the time to come.
Want an expert, award-winning company to assist you with your PR strategy for your start-up or tech company? Metis is here to help. Contact us now to learn more about us and how we can help your start-up grow.
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