Nell Callahan is the founder of Frontwood Strategiesa leading national strategic communications agency and award-winning strategist.
Public relations can be an afterthought in the rush to get a concept to market or quickly scale a startup. But it shouldn’t be. Waiting to build a solid PR campaign can mean precious lost time building credibility and relationships that will drive your business forward.
Here are a few key places to invest that can make a lasting impact:
1. Define your target groups.
A PR strategy should help you clarify and understand your audience and what motivates them. This exercise should have a ripple effect throughout your business. As other business units refine their understanding of their audiences, it should also inform your PR strategy so that you are consistent in all communications.
PR helps organizations to make their product or service market suitable for multiple target groups. To do this effectively, start by identifying what each audience segment wants and needs. With this information, you can develop messages and strategies that resonate with each group.
Try to meet your target audiences where they are. What are their favorite social media platforms? Which media outlets do they read, watch and listen to? Which communities do they interact with? These are all crucial factors when considering how to engage with your audiences in a meaningful way.
2. Translate complex concepts.
In the world of startups, public relations plays an essential role in getting the company’s message across to investors, partners, and potential clients. However, it can be challenging to translate complex concepts into a language that resonates with a non-expert.
Use clear language when you communicate and avoid jargon. Be clear and concise so that your message comes across clearly.
Another way to make sure your message resonates with your audience is to tell a story. Think about stories you want to share with your audience through the media: Why did you start your business? What is the vision for the future? What appeals to your startup?
Remember that public relations is about more than just getting media attention. It is also about building relationships with key audiences. Taking the time to make your mission and content accessible to a wide audience can help more people get involved in your work.
3. Get ahead of the story.
As a startup leader, you can’t afford to wait for something terrible to happen to rethink your PR strategy. It is crucial to proactively build your reputation. There are several proactive measures you can take to achieve this:
• Build relationships with influencers in your industry. They can be industry opinion leaders, journalists, bloggers, etc. Developing positive relationships with them is essential for building credibility and brand awareness.
• Tell impactful stories. There are stories everywhere, whether explaining the problem you’re trying to solve, showing the positive effects of your product or service, or highlighting the company culture you’re building. Find ways to show and bring your impact and vision to life in the media, on your digital assets and in events.
• Monitor your online presence. In today’s digital age, it is essential to keep an eye on what is being said about you online. You can monitor the public conversation by following social media, review sites, and other channels where people can talk about your startup. Start the discussion, respond to feedback and show how you serve your customers and partners.
4. Invest for the long term.
Rarely does a PR strategy have an immediate impact. Invest in a scalable long-term approach as you build your team, plan and program. Your PR strategy should be able to grow with your business, but it takes constant work to get it right.
While startups have a lot to juggle and have many different priorities for their precise time and resources, a PR strategy shouldn’t fall off the list of things to do. Smart, early and stable investments can pay off in the long run. In public relations, you can do many things to break through, but you can never make up for lost time.