Getting your startup off the ground and running can be challenging. A large part of developing a business plan is thinking strategically about the ways you want your business to grow from an early stage startup to a fully established enterprise. Doing your homework is critical to understanding how to amplify your brand and prepare for market entry.
Alas, you hit ‘Enter’ on your Google search: “Does my startup need PR?” Over 11 million results are now at your disposal – and you thought deciding on dinner was going to be difficult. The Internet is crowded with various opinions and conflicting ideas, each providing their own merit and judgment for why a startup will or will not benefit from PR.
Here are five reasons in favor of having PR as a core strategy for your startup:
1. Your company gains name recognition. It’s no secret that people begin to develop certain brand affiliations through word-of-mouth and prominence in the news. Many early stage startups worry that a slight change in their business model will impact press coverage they may have already received. The reality of the situation is one rooted in the fundamentals of doing business: Expect failure, but never fear failure. Holding out on formulating relationships with press transcends into a larger fear of failure, one that every entrepreneur needs to overcome. It’s never too early to network and it’s never too early to make mistakes. Pivoting as a startup should be expected, if not encouraged – and this is not to say that every startup pivots. A startup that pivots demonstrates they are conscientious of their target audience and how to grow a better business. It demonstrates flexibility and determination to create something that fills a void in the current market.
2. Press helps build your company profile for key stakeholders. Whether you’re seeking out potential investors, hiring new talent, or securing early adopters, press has the ability to put you on the radar of key stakeholders in your business. Early press coverage can begin to put your company at the forefront of the industry, positioning you as healthy competition within the space. Humans are biologically soft-wired to formulate connections with things they feel are familiar. More specifically, earned media can establish trust and credibility that will stay with a brand until they prove otherwise. This familiarity built through press has the power to keep your brand relevant in the eyes of stakeholders.
3. PR opens the doors for future opportunities. Many startups fear that they lack “news” to begin PR efforts. While news is critical to getting press coverage, beginning PR efforts doesn’t have to solely rely on garnering news. In fact, it shouldn’t. The role of PR is diverse and can serve a variety of purposes within a company. Early stage startups can benefit from PR by developing concrete messages and goals for growing the brand’s identity. Developing communication objectives can be a fundamental component for meeting higher-level business goals. A potential investor might see a startup succeeding on social channels. Core brand messaging for these channels can increase the likelihood that the right people will notice you at the right time. PR not only opens the door to establishing relationships with journalists, but can also help prepare your business for entering the marketing in a way that your audience will understand.
4. You control the narrative. If your startup ends up being successful, you will be written about whether or not you’ve reached out to press. By engaging PR at an early stage, you have a far better chance at controlling the outcomes of coverage by controlling the conversation. Monitoring brand sentiment from the get-go allows you to understand how people perceive your business. If you wait for press to develop organically, you give others the power to tell the story for you, rather than telling the story yourself.
5. PR can help establish you as a thought leader. The final note for championing PR efforts for early stage startups is the credibility associated with industry prominence. As your PR efforts begin to reach your key stakeholders, your audience begins to see the value you bring to the industry. This enables you to position yourself as experts in your respective fields, increasing the likelihood that more press will call upon you for comment. PR is an investment that doesn’t happen overnight. The earlier you begin to place value on forming relationships with key audiences, the greater the likelihood that your audience will buy into your company.