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If you’re a startup company seeking funding, there are times when you feel like a walking pitchman. You’re trying to prove your integrity as a business, your strength as a partner and your worth as an investment opportunity all at the same time. We’ve watched as startup resources in the Boston area have grown, and last year’s advances in equity crowdfunding helped enable startups to reach their capital goals faster with funding from unaccredited investors. However, there are still times when startups may feel like their energy, and their PR and marketing efforts, are fully directed toward gaining the attention of venture capitalist firms (VCs).
Great VCs recognize great PR. To catch the eye and earn the trust of VCs, your startup’s PR program should make five things clear.
1. You’re prepared to scale.
Even an early-stage startup must be able to present its message, mission and target buyer persona in a clear, concise manner. VCs take on companies that will help enhance their own businesses and increase their expertise, but before a new relationship begins, a primary concern for any VC is whether or not the investment will be returned. Demonstrate that your offering is unique, your market is interested, and both are likely to grow.
2. You know your market, and you’re ready to educate others.
Perhaps a VC’s investment in your company will be its first foray into your region or industry, or maybe it’s already established a strong network, but your technology is unlike anything else in the VC’s portfolio. Approach this situation as an expert, ready to teach your VC firm which messages resonate with media and leads.
3. This relationship will be a mutual one.
Are you working with a VC firm interested in engaging in joint PR opportunities? Seek out a PR and marketing firm that will match this interest with opportunities, such as chances to discuss industry trends with media influencers, host FAQ sessions, create inbound content or simply cultivate attention for the other companies in the VC’s portfolio.
4. Neither the startup nor the VC will get lost in the shuffle.
Once you’ve secured a VC relationship, when its in-house PR team includes you in a media opportunity, reiterate the VC’s value by sharing thought leadership while supporting the firm’s messaging and goal of the moment. Likewise, when you loop the VC into your startup’s PR activities, you should expect the firm to provide background on the trends that relate to your industry, but not to go so far as to overshadow your startup’s expertise. Have this conversation early and directly, and both your startup and your VC firm will benefit more from joint PR opportunities.
5. This investment will pay off and lead to others.
Some startups go to great lengths to demonstrate the value of their PR efforts to their VC firms. They maintain an ongoing line of communication about the messages that are generating leads and the trends that are dictating the path of the industry, through methods such as newsletters, updates, blogs and more. This additional lens helps the firm maintain a handle on the technology, geographic location or markets in which their portfolio companies work directly. The awareness and understanding also helps the VC expand its own business.
Let potential VC firms know you’re committed to sharing these insights, and beyond reporting on them, you’ll take care to highlight what can be learned. It will reinforce your industry expertise while making your company more attractive to new business leads, investors and customers.
Has your PR firm proven its ability to create and secure VC interest? If not, it may be time for a change.