Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With any luck, 2022 promises a continued wave of growth and prosperity. The startup space has been greatly affected by the pandemic, to be sure, but most enterprises have adapted to Covid-19 protocols, and investors have become more optimistic about fueling new businesses. And of course, a startup requires such capital for growth and progression, but what too many fail to recognize is that a robust PR strategy is equally vital.
Unlike established brands and companies, startups require more than a press release to be featured in the top-tier news and business media websites, shows and publications. A good PR strategy will fuel these efforts, certainly, and also go a long way towards cheering investors. Most startups are faced with the key issues of raising funding, recruiting talent, and growing a customer base, but comprehensive PR addresses these concerns, too, as well as increasing backlinks to a website, which raises brand awareness. A startup can also use PR to boost its unique selling point. Too often, however, people leave PR for the end, and a late, weak or laissez faire approach will end up costing far more than you might even imagine, so get planning now.
1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
PR entails setting up long-term strategies, along with patience and consistency, and what takes up most of its time is media relationships. (The more frequently audiences hear about a brand, the better its chances of gaining trust and credibility.) Keep in mind, however, that any targeted media outlets need to be noteworthy.
2. Be the early bird
Just as early tickets to a music fest have perks, implementing a PR strategy before an official launch gives you the advantage of shorter agency retainer arrangements. An initial three-month program to support your launch becomes much more affordable. It also provides a wealth of value-added consulting and advice, and you’ll gain access to connections you otherwise would not have had.
3. Use storytelling
Good stories are captivating and inspirational. They give audiences a sense of relevance and relatability. So, tap into the brand narrative to create goodwill and loyalty in your audiences, and include how you tackled obstacles and adversities. In response, media companies will likely offer better questions about starting a venture, addressing perhaps unique selling points, brand history and the founder(s)’ careers. They might also question the concept and its inspiration, so be ready with compelling details, and never forget to throw in key messages and core brand communication pillars.
4. Make the numbers talk
You run a business, after all, and both the media and your audience will be interested in the statistics of a startup. So, when narrating your story, take the angles of how your company is disrupting the industry, and when doing so, work on quantifying its trajectory. In this regard, be prepared to answer questions about funds raised (or revenue earned), number of signees within a month or year, number of partners on board, etc. These aspects will make your story more compelling, and so hopefully raise awareness.
5. Be choosy
Avoid a press release strategy that’s simply regularity-based. Instead, wait until there’s something truly noteworthy to impart — unique facets and elements. Newsworthy topics might include a new product or service, a new executive, fresh funding that raises the bar for growth, a new location or headquarters, or a significant achievement of another type. Just be certain to incorporate striking and eye-catching messaging.
6. Use content assets
Doing only the bare minimum will make it difficult to cut through the competitive clutter. So, among your technology and tools should be concise and captivating content assets, such as infographics, that give a gist of the story. These should also plug and play well with other reporter-accessible resources, including white papers, videos and blog posts (whether on company or media sites). Content assets like these help carve out personalized pitches rather than one-size-fits-all ones. (The latter can make you come off as pushy and overselling.)
7. Be a contributor
Another way to fuel PR efforts is by contributing to industry knowledge, and a great way to begin is by guest posting on blog sites that are regularly read and visited by your target audience. This kind of participation can be done in writing, but also through podcasts, webinars and eBooks.
It might seem logical to ask, “Why should I promote another site?” The answer is that collaborative pursuit also has something for you: It will promote your brand in ways that your website content cannot. It also engages audiences consistently, and can draw new ones previously unaware of your brand.
Today, startups and PR services have complex relationships, including a lot more emphasis on collaboration and interaction. To successfully put your brand and name out there, you need a PR strategy before you reach out to journalists, collaborators and influencers. Interaction is what comes after this. Focus on putting your value propositions forward in a mutually beneficial manner, and you will be good to go.