As a startup, you may have given a lot of thought toward a marketing plan. As you dig deeper into marketing and communications, you hopefully have discovered one function that stands out when it comes to helping build the bottom line, spread awareness of a product or service, and reach a targeted group of customers.
Oh, and did we mention building brand credibility and authority? If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably public relations (and it’s completely true!).
Public relations (PR) is a marketing all-star and can be a slam dunk for startups looking to maximize time and money to help achieve both its sales and marketing goals. Here, we break down some of the top ways PR can help startups:
PR can help generate new business leads due to its increased eyeballs on your business. When your company is published (e.g., quoted or a fully written article) in targeted media outlets, your company becomes more visible to prospective customers. In turn, this also builds credibility and authority with your targeted audience of customers—something vastly important when it comes to competitor comparison and trust in your business.
The right media placements at the right times can be used strategically to attract the attention of VCs and other investors. With the right messaging and strategy, PR increases your credibility as a stable and potentially lucrative investment target. It’s important to consider “investor-worthy” news when you’re engaging with PR, so it makes sense to especially highlight the sign-on of new customers (with their approval, of course), encouraging case studies, or important revenue or customer growth.
In many instances, PR campaigns not only attract new clients, but prospective employees as well. Any PR strategy that establishes your business as a thought leader will inevitably increase your profile among the best and brightest talent in the field. With PR, you can gradually cultivate a reputation as one of your industry’s most sought after employers—and you can use your newfound access to talent to accelerate your growth curve.
Similarly, you likely know how much of a threat employee turnover is to most technology firms. Companies that struggle with the "why do PR" question often fail to see how it can boost employee morale and improve retention. Industry thought leadership opportunities, social media engagement, notable awards, and other tactics create a sense of pride among employees and validate their decision to remain with the company.
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Cost savings can be an added benefit of PR, especially when you consider that the final published piece is essentially “free” advertising for your business. Social media, some award submissions, and contributed articles may require work and expense on the backend, but the final published piece (and its associated visibility and engagement) are all organic and no cost. The reach of PR is very powerful, especially when it’s integrated with other marketing tactics.
A carefully crafted PR strategy will also create or tighten marketing messaging about your company, its leadership, and its products or services, ultimately helping shape or refine your brand’s identity in the market. There are a variety of marketing and communications methods to amplify your key messages, and PR is one method to reach your key audience, build credibility, and secure third party validation.
Many startups have exit strategies in mind from the get-go. If that’s you, PR isn’t simply a nice-to-have, but a must-have. Attracting the attention of acquirers, like investors (see point #2), requires visibility in the market so potential buyers know exactly where you stand with customers and competition. Plus, many firms rely heavily on media coverage and sources to uncover their next acquisition target. Why not let it be you?
Like the other tools within marketing and communications, PR is a dynamic, multi-faceted, and incredibly useful way to hit a startup’s sales and marketing goals.