Start-ups are an interesting breed when it comes to public relations and thought leadership. On one hand, they are in growth mode and have a lot of activity – and oftenÂ great progress – to share, whether executive team hires, new office openings, major technology releases or industry partnerships. However, they are often trying to raiseÂ rounds of funding or boot-strap their growth without overspending, which can result in limited PR investment options.
I recently attended Boulder Start-Up Week and had the opportunity to hear from local early-stage company leaders and network with some impressive localÂ entrepreneurs. While clearly of the innovation mindset and developing solid products and service offerings, many of them were unsure how to establish their brandsÂ without plunking down the equivalent of their quarterly operating budget for a big or trendy PR firm.
Instead of going with a discount PR shop or hiring an intern toÂ manage PR, start-ups should consider a strategic, targeted PR program from an experienced PR partner. A focused, core PR program can help elevate a new brandÂ while developing a voice in the marketplace. Here are some ideas:
â€”Â Get Your Brand Messaging RightÂ – One of the keys to a successful PR and thought leadership campaign is the ability to clearly articulate what your business does,Â the demand it fulfills in the marketplace (including what problem or pain points it helps solve) and your main differentiators versus competitors. A sound PR team willÂ take the time to get these elements right before engaging with media or industry analysts, including gaining consensus from the founders and/or senior leadershipÂ team, as the core messaging should be used across all marketing efforts for brand consistency.
â€”Â Commit to Your AudienceÂ – It may sound cliche, but if youâ€™re trying to be everything to everyone, then you’re nothing to no one. Savvy buyers – whether enterprise orÂ consumer – want to do business with companies that specialize in what theyâ€™re offering. They seek out the experts who can deliver real advice to match their needs.Â Take the time to identify which segments of the market youâ€™re currently serving and squarely place your marketing emphasis there. It doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™ll never expandÂ beyond the initial audience targets but it allows you to put a Â stake in the ground and to build your business around specific buyer profiles, e.g., company size, buyerÂ titles, vertical markets, etc.
â€”Â Showcase Real-World Case StudiesÂ – The best way to prove your product or serviceâ€™s effectiveness and establish industry clout is to share success stories fromÂ users who trust your brand and can present real-world results. It is common with start-ups to showcase customers who have helped you evolve your product – theseÂ initial customers or beta users are often willing to tell their stories if youâ€™ve been a solid partner that has helped them improve their business.
In the world of start-ups, PR should be an evolving initiative that helps the business progress by building clear market reputation and visibility. Founders and leadershipÂ teams will be best poised for a successful market entry if they focus on the core PR elements – the ones that are most impactful for startups looking to make it to theÂ next stage of the game.