I get this question all of the time. Some may find it surprising, but what’s more surprising to me is that many start-ups are sitting on real news and doing nothing about it. Sure, it’s easy to recognize when you raise money – announce it! When you partner with a major company – announce it! But, what’s not so obvious to the masses is when you fit into a larger narrative that can drive real business results – even without a major announcement!
Say for example, you are working on a company in the artificial intelligence or driverless car sectors. There are a lot of stories being written about those subjects today. It’s possible that a media outlet hasn’t reported the story from your point of view – you need PR! Or, maybe your research team made an interesting find – you need PR! Have you been tracking other news and trends? Maybe you can fit into those narratives? You need PR!
Though, what you don’t need is a retainer for a PR firm.
Maybe what you need is to sit down with a PR pro who understands what makes news, strategize with him/her, and pitch some thoughtful stories out to media who have been covering similar subjects in days past. It’s not rocket science, just not your job to think this way. IMHO.
Here’s how I would see it if in your shoes.
You’re a CEO at a company with 20-50 employees. Your revenue is in the millions. Yet you’re being out marketed by your competition. They keep coming up in your new business pitches. You’re not coming up in theirs, so you’re hearing. In addition to running email marketing programs, staffing events, publishing whitepapers and such, you can use PR to get into your competitors’ narratives. It seems simple, right?
It’s not. Time and resources are not on your side. They have been doing PR longer than you have. And, they have a bigger team, with a bigger budget for PR. So why do you need PR now? What advantage can it give you, if any?
You’re not starting a PR program to beat out your competition.
Accept that. You’re not going to have the largest share of voice, at least not in the beginning of your PR program. Own it. What you do have is a positive attitude and a team – albeit small – of people in your organization who can work together on PR to increase your share of voice and generate awareness and leads for your company, in a short period of time – without any announcements.
Is this ideal? No, not really. It’s rare if a prospect knocks on my door and just asks if it’s time for him/her to do PR. I actually tend to shy away from such calls. Why? Most of those calls come in because the company calling hasn’t done PR before and was told to do it. The best case is when a start-up has an announcement to make and the PR that follows builds upon that announcement (and others) and helps narrate the services and solutions it offers to others.
Talk with a PR pro to find out when it’s ideal to start your PR!