“Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens,” said business leader Alvin Adams sometime before he died in 1877. If PR was important when “instant” communications came via Pony Express, today it is utterly essential. This is especially true of start-ups that face the unique challenge of introducing a new brand, team, and product to the market. It’s a steep hill to climb, so many choose not to go it alone. Using an agency can be a cost effective way to bring years of experience and a wide range of knowledge to work for your new company. Here are just a few of the things that the right PR firm can do for you.
Clarify Your Message
Most start up founders and early team members are passionate about their products and market. They can generally site all of the features and enumerate the benefits they bring. But it isn’t features and benefits that capture that attention of journalists and audiences. It is stories. A good PR firm can help you learn to clearly articulate the story of your brand. What sets you apart from the others in yours space? Which challenges do you uniquely address? Once these messages are clear, they can be used across all of your assets and media pitches.
Find Your Audience
You probably can define your target market and ideal customer, but do you know where those buyers go to learn about new products? Can you identify the publications, bloggers, and other influencers they trust? If not, a PR firm can help you get a better picture of where your messages need to be to reach your audience. They can help prioritize your efforts so that you focus on the channels that will get you the most bang for your buck.
Establish Thought Leadership
Start-up founders and early employees are often the most excited, energetic, and knowledgeable people in a space. You’re not just doing what has always been done, you are embarking on something new. The people in your market are always interested in what’s new and you can help lead the conversation. A good PR partner will help you build credibility and awareness through tactics like guest blogging, speaking at industry events, participating in webinars, and getting involved in industry associations.
Connect with Journalists
Perhaps the most important things a PR firm brings to the table are their existing relationships with the journalists and bloggers who cover your space and the ability to develop new relationships. Media relations is a very particular skill. Outreach must be done in a way that helps the journalists, and strategic targeting is essential for long term success. Unless you or someone on your team has the time and inclination to get really, really good at it, hire a PR firm.
Achieve Measurable Business Results
We’ve spoken to a few founders who once thought that PR was too “squishy.” They believed that results were too difficult to measure and that it was impossible to establish an ROI for PR. This may have been the case once upon a time, but in today’s digital world, buyer behavior can be tracked like never before. With the right technology, it is absolutely possible for your PR firm to directly link their efforts to tangible business goals like increased website traffic, audience engagement, lead generation, and ultimately revenue.
Start-up teams are under a lot of pressure to leverage their limited resources and quickly gain momentum. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that PR is something you can pick up down the road after you’ve reached a sales or customer acquisition milestone. Instead, use it to get you to those happy places faster.