PR is an important step on the startup journey
Founding a startup is hard work because it takes as much business acumen as it is sector knowledge. An expert in the newest technology or the nuance of a product still needs to share their credibility. If nobody knows about your expertise, investors might see you as an outsider. By investing in PR, you are investing in building a portfolio of your public opinions, mentions and sector knowledge in the publication outlets that matter in the startup world. A strategic communications campaign will help bolster credibility and ensure your investors see the full potential of your brand.
Take Your Business to the Next Level
Your credibility and advanced knowledge of your innovation is as important as the innovation itself. The first rungs on the ladder of your business’ success are built with your expertise and the industry’s awareness of who you are. Regular public relations outreach activity is essential to keep writers and experts in the field aware of who you are, your services, your company and its brand. A disciplined approach to media outreach can generate opportunities to provide commentary, interviews and more. While both are useful, press may offer more opportunities to feature you and your thinking than to feature your product.
Thought leadership through articles – whether on your blog or earned in media spaces—affects both B2B customers and consumers. In fact, 70% of consumers would prefer to get to know a company through articles rather than ads and 96% of buyers want more content from industry thought leaders.
Your Public Relations Audience
Thought leadership and content cravings from buyers and consumers indicate that startups should think past their product. PR can help by working with journalists to frame a story that doesn’t just sell, but gains prospect buy-in on more parts of your business.
To tap into this variety of content earned media can offer, entrepreneurs must recognize that journalists themselves are one of the first audiences for your message as they become a mouthpiece to broader exposure of you and your brand. Startups can maximize this mouthpiece. First, keep the press informed about products, services, and the wider company. Generating outstanding media exposure opportunities will help position a brand in front of key target audiences and buyer personas. Next, establish credibility through positive media coverage, testimonials and awards. This reputation building in the media will inspire investors to take an interest in the company and its potential.
Touting Expertise Before Product
Every word an executive says in the press is the chance for investors to notice the company. Bold thought leadership can position a subject matter expert as an authority who has bold ideas, open to new innovations, and has the knowledge and courage to create a fast-growing, successful company. Often this is the best match for the news cycle as well. Your business is part of a cycle of innovation and the broader picture of innovation trends is what the media reports on. You may have an AI solution, but news stories don’t always cover the solution, but instead, ask leaders how we should feel about AI, where we see it heading and how to talk about it. As a leader working in your industry, you can comment on the state of the industry and its corollaries as a way to be heard and earn media coverage.
Commenting on your industry and relative positions also shows investors how deep your expertise is and inspires confidence that you’re looking at the field overall. The ability to position your solution among others is something PR allows for, and it starts with big picture commentary increasing you and your company’s general visibility.
How Early-Stage Public Relations Can Create Investor FOMO
While you still have to be working on your concept, business plan, MVP and risk management, PR has to be your “significant other” if you are looking for funds and attracting investors. Every investor’s FOMO is to miss an opportunity of catching another unicorn. Building pre-product hype about what your company offers is a great way to get attention, and early-stage attention from investors is important for also sharing with them future growth and sales numbers.
- How to create hype around a startup using PR:
- Get articles about your startup published in publications
- Work on different formats to reveal the best angles of your business (ex. articles, mentions, interviews or commentaries)
- Focus on what problems your startup solves, and why the world needs it
- Give bold statements and provocative quotes to create a buzz around your company.
Investors want to see a track record of success before they invest in a business. PR can help business owners showcase their company’s successes and accomplishments, including financial gains, product development, and customer satisfaction. Highlighting these successes can help demonstrate the company’s potential for growth and profitability, making it more attractive to potential investors.
Your early-stage startup data undoubtedly contributes to investors’ decision-making.
As you beta test or launch in small test markets, always think about the case study. From the first moment you interact with a partner, consider things like recording their testimonial, having prepared commentary on their need for your solution and keep track of the exact data points involved in your relationship. This case study proof is essential as your media presence grows and often looking backwards to collect it can be a challenge.
Every step of the way, consider how publicity and media coverage could be available. It is important for businesses to understand that public relations is not all press releases and interviews. Secure placements in online media but grab more innovative opportunities as well: social media, content portals, case studies, whitepapers, and more.
Your Most Effective Tool at Every Stage
Public relations can be a powerful tool for business owners looking to attract investors and to establish credibility in the marketplace. Building awareness of your brand and its roster of thought leaders, its impact in the market and its abilities to grow comes from early media relationships, creating industry commentary and regular outreach. Share your successes, your partnerships and the cases you’re developing often, with as much data as possible. Curate your partnership relationships to create spokespersons of satisfied partners and leverage results data to trigger journalists’ interest.
Recognizing the value of a steady drumbeat of media engagement at all stages of the business can help business owners prove the value of their business and attract the investment and partnerships needed to take it to the next level.
Julie Ferris-Tillman, Ph.D., is the VP of Public Relations at Interdependence Public Relations.