The answer: Earlier than you might think
Especially in the early days of your startup, getting the news out about your endeavors can be challenging. Earned media – favorable exposure that a business has not paid for or created – can be incredibly valuable. But how exactly do you get helpful news coverage of your early-stage company?
Startups may benefit from public relations (PR) services at various stages of their growth and development. Here are some common scenarios in which startups may need professional PR services.
When a startup launches a new product, service, or company, it may benefit from PR services to help generate media coverage and build buzz around the launch.
Such efforts help increase awareness among target audiences. PR professionals can strategize your media outreach, tackle content creation, conduct media training (so company leaders understand how to handle media interviews), and sometimes, even coordinate event planning.
If a startup seeks investment or funding, a solid PR strategy can help position the company as an attractive opportunity for investors. PR professionals can create and distribute press releases, arrange media interviews with key executives, and develop thought leadership content that showcases the company’s potential.
Once a startup secures funding, the company can leverage that news to generate media coverage and build credibility with potential customers and partners. A seasoned PR professional can help with this as well.
As a startup grows and expands, PR services can help to support its marketing efforts by increasing visibility, driving traffic to its website, and building credibility with target audiences. PR professionals can develop your thought leadership program, create customer success stories, and secure speaking engagements at industry events.
A focused, deliberate communications campaign can grow your brand’s credibility and visibility. PR professionals can also help founders create a consistent brand message across multiple channels, such as social media, blogs, and traditional media outlets. There can be some overlap with marketing. However, PR is a marathon, not a sprint. Think of PR as a process you invest in as your startup communicates branding with intention.
When you need PR the most
In the best of times, PR services can help promote your startup’s latest news at special events, such as a product launch, or to support significant announcements, such as a new partnership or an acquisition.
Under less-than-ideal conditions, such as when a startup faces a crisis or negative publicity, it may need PR services to help manage the situation and protect the company’s reputation. This can include developing a crisis communication plan, responding to media inquiries, and proactively addressing concerns from customers and stakeholders.
In both cases, it’s best to have a working relationship with a PR professional, especially when you need help with communication strategies during active crisis management.
Can I handle my startup’s PR myself?
The good news is that you don’t need a PR agency to score press coverage in today’s digital landscape. You can capture the media’s attention by prioritizing your brand and telling your startup’s story through your owned channels (your website, newsletter, and social media platforms).
However, be honest with yourself. Is strategizing and executing a PR plan the best use of your time as a startup founder? That’s when you should consider hiring a PR professional.
What should I look for when hiring a PR professional?
When evaluating PR candidates, ask about their relevant experience working with startups or companies in your industry. They should be able to provide examples of successful PR campaigns and strategies they have developed and executed.
An ideal PR professional should have excellent written and verbal communication skills. They will be responsible for crafting and delivering messages to the media, investors, and other stakeholders. Ideally, your professional can identify the key messages you want to convey and develop a strategy for reaching your target audiences. Thus, look for someone who can think strategically and develop a PR plan that aligns with your business goals.
Your ideal PR professional should be flexible and adaptable because you’ll need that person to adjust their strategy in response to changing circumstances. Also, look for a PR professional with strong relationships with the media, including reporters, editors, and bloggers. They should have a track record of getting media coverage for their clients. And they should also be able to provide metrics and analytics to show the impact of their work.
Finally, choose someone whose communication style is compatible with your startup. Look for someone who understands your business and its unique needs and fits your company culture well.
PR is often the last element of a company’s plan, but it should be one of the first. Startups can and do benefit from PR services at various points in the company’s journey. From building brand awareness to generating media coverage, PR services can help startups achieve these goals by leveraging media relationships, crafting compelling messages, and creating a strategic communications plan.
By keeping the media (and, by extension, your target customers) informed about your brand and personifying the value of your services and products, PR can help raise your company’s authority, build relationships with key audiences, and ultimately help take your business to the next level.
The featured image is of Mary Ullmann Japhet, a PR professional who heads up Japhet Media, courtesy photo.