One of the single biggest challenges for a startup is that they just want press for what they’ve been working on - so few actually request a PR strategy. To make matters worse, typically startup employees inundate whoever is heading up marketing internally with articles that the startup “should have been in.” Sometimes even as troubling, the public relations consultant has been in “stealth mode” so many times before that he/she often will push to do both – get short term “hits” because of a burgeoning trend, holiday theme, etc., AND develop and execute on a PR strategy. The challenge with that approach is often a PR consultant is just focused on getting press – and there’s much more a startup can get out of PR than just press. A startup can generate business results from PR.
It’s Your Grandfather’s PR
I’ve been a public relations professional for over 20 years. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my elders, what you say and do matters. It matters more now than ever. Why? Marketers are creating content like popcorn. There’s too much of it. People are getting sick of it. Content is generally not simple to digest and not consistent. One message often doesn’t weave throughout the business story. A PR strategy is more important now because it allows the startup to hone in on what differentiates the company from competitors and find a position in the marketplace. A simple message can resonate more and stronger with a target audience than a hundred kernels of corn.
No News is Not Good News
Startups which blog weekly, push out two press releases per month, create “momentum releases” (unless working toward an IPO) are not breaking out. It may not even be effective from a search engine marketing perspective as Google is now focusing less on SEO and more on paid search. I digress. The better approach is to review the company’s message, competitive differentiation, and market position to recommend that a client take a certain approach when developing and executing a PR strategy. The “news” will surface as part of the PR strategy and may generate press that helps attract new business leads.
PR is a Lead Generation Tool
Yes it is. Startups are in a rapid growth stage. They need leads. Brand awareness will come naturally, if the PR strategy is sound, but the leads matter more right now. I’m probably stating the obvious, but when sales closes those leads, and they will because PR qualified them due to the tight PR strategy, the resulting business will naturally add to the evolution of the startup’s growth. The business results may also help the startup reach milestones which will become news stories in themselves. The PR strategy may not only generate initial leads, but get the ball rolling and help build the business.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Ok, so if you know me, that headline above was VERY DIFFICULT to write. I always want to get press for clients. But, having helped many clients get acquired and IPO, I can attest that just getting PR for the sake of it is not strategic and forces startups to go to market and be successful over a longer period of time. Slow and steady does win the race. As a matter of fact, the startups that have had the most success while I was leading PR were also the most team oriented and collaborative on exploring what it will take to “get there.” Get there? Yes, they always led with their goals. And, when PR helped reach those goals, the business results were due to a sound, proven PR strategy.