Seven reasons why you need a PR strategy

No matter the size of your company a solid PR strategy adds value. However, if you’re a startup or scaleup and you’re looking to start a PR campaign, you’ll encounter obstacles. There is competition for attention. Simply sending out press releases and expecting coverage does not work. You can’t just switch PR on and off like a light bulb. You need a PR strategy with the short, medium and long term in mind.

In today’s connected world, you need a multi-layered approach to PR that takes into account the right channels to reach the right audiences. You need to have a comprehensive strategy, with input from specialists in PR for startups and scaleups. You need to look at PR as an investment rather than an expense and budget for it accordingly.

When you take this approach to PR, you’ll soon realise the benefits. Here are seven ways a PR strategy improves your business.

1 – Increase awareness

Whatever sector your startup or scaleup is in, you’re competing with other organisations. All of your competitors are trying to achieve similar goals. Even if you believe you have a unique product or service, you are competing for consumers’ or businesses’ time and/or money.  If no one has heard of your company, you’ll find it very difficult to achieve your goals. When you want to build a commercial relationship or partnership with another company, if they don’t know who you are, they may not even take your call. After all, they probably receive similar requests every day. When your PR strategy focuses on awareness-building, you will find your profile snowballs and opportunities come to you.

2 – Build credibility

Awareness of your company name is a great start, but it’s just the start. What is your company known for? Do consumers trust your company when they hear the name? Who are your founders? What technology or expertise are you using that customers can believe in?

Your startup or scaleup is disrupting your chosen sector. Your tech team has built an innovative solution. You have a strong vision about how your company is going to improve the experience of customers in your sector. The problem is, no one knows your company and no one is interested in what you have to say. So, use PR to build credibility as well as awareness. A well-placed piece of PR can help generate credibility and build your positive reputation.  PR has the potential to position you and your team as experts and thought leaders and your company as an industry disruptor that’s worth keeping an eye on.

3 – Generate revenue, win customers

PR can help you boost your bottom line. Ensure your PR advisors are liaising closely with your sales management. Working together they’ll help you win customers and make sales by getting coverage in front of potential buyers.  Coverage for your startup or scale up in print, TV, radio or online, in trusted and relevant outlets, acts like the recommendation of a friend to the reader. It piques their curiosity and makes them want to try out your product or service. You can then leverage this curiosity to create sales.  

4 – Activate and amplify

PR doesn’t work in isolation. It is an essential component of your overall, ongoing marketing strategy and plans. It can amplify a great advertising campaign beyond the allocated media spend by getting trade and national coverage; it can activate your company’s core sponsorship properties, with engagement programmes for existing and potential customers and by building relationships with journalists and other opinion-formers. In fact, the rule of thumb for sponsorship is that you need to spend at least as much on the PR and activation as you do on the sponsorship fees themselves.

5 – Attract top talent

To grow your startup or scaleup, you need to hire the best people. These people want to work for great companies, winners, innovative businesses that make a difference. Do the people you want to hire know about your business? What do they see when they search for your company online? Whatever image you want to craft for your business, PR helps you realise it. Coverage of your company in industry media, for example, can position your company as somewhere talented people compete to work at. PR is integral to building your employer brand.

6 – Build brand value

A positive corporate reputation puts millions, and sometimes billions, on your company’s brand equity value. When Amazon was a startup, it put creating a brand before making a profit. Now, it reaps the rewards from this approach. PR helps you build a brand, establishing your company name into your audience’s consciousness and educates them about your excellent work. Your PR strategy must reflect your brand values. For example, if being customer-focused is a key part of your brand, make sure your PR articles quote happy customers.

7 –  Prepare for issues and crises

In business, things go wrong. When you’re a startup or scaleup, the path to growth and success is never smooth. You need credibility and understanding from your existing and potential customers as well as journalists. You need a bank of goodwill and understanding on which to draw from in difficult times.

PR helps you build your brand equity, so that when a PR issue hits you can prevent it from becoming a full crisis situation.  If you’ve been consistently communicating your positive stories, then the first time people hear your company name won’t just be in connection with a major nightmare that you’d rather nobody knew about.

Customers understand that all companies experience issues and that if they are handled quickly and effectively, backed up with great communications, then they will be prepared to forgive and your company may be able to come back even stronger. A great case study of this is with the recent KFC chicken shortage, described as a ‘masterclass in PR crisis management.

PR helps protect your organisation from bad publicity that could destroy your company’s reputation, or worse, shut it down. In a crisis, it could be your PR strategy that keeps your customer base onside while you fix the situation.

Hiring a specialist in PR for startups and scaleups is the most effective way to achieve the benefits of a PR strategy. They already have the contacts and relationships in place. They will know from experience what works and what doesn’t. They will know the best way to promote your business to the right people.

Remember, if your company doesn’t tell its story consistently, authentically and interestingly, you leave it up to others to fill in the gap and tell your story for you. When perception is everything, make sure you are in charge of how your organisation is perceived.

PR has the potential to boost your business in all these compelling ways. However, you can’t just start ‘doing PR’ and hope for the best. You need to set goals and develop a PR strategy to achieve them. You need to be consistent. You need to be out building relationships with the opinion-formers and gatekeepers that matter in your industry.

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