Writing for Venture Beat last year, Vivek Wadhwa, an academic, researcher and writer who was listed by Time Magazine as one of the 40 most Influential Minds in Tech, recalled his vastly different experiences with PR in two startups. The first didn’t prioritize PR and remained relatively unknown, despite an amazing growth trajectory and an IPO within five years. When he founded his next company, Wadhwa deployed a different strategy and leveraged PR to gain interest in the fledgling enterprise despite having a “boring” technology infrastructure product. His experiences lead him to the conclusion that, “PR is your best marketing weapon.” We couldn't agree more. Here are a few reasons why.
People Trust Earned Media
According to a survey by Neilson, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media. The survey revealed that 58% of global online buyers trust “owned media,” such as messages on company websites. People are simply far more trusting of information from third parties than they are of content produced by marketers.
Stories are Social
“Hey Facebook Friends, check out this great data sheet I found online,” said no one. Ever. Given that people place a great deal of credibility in word of mouth recommendations (84% of people trust them, according to Neilson), it is important to deliver shareable content to your audience. People are much more likely to share customer stories, opinion pieces, and third party assessments than they are to share straight forward marketing materials. This is particularly important for B2B brands who must accept the challenge of making their products and organizations interesting.
Advantages Beyond Revenue
If you only think of PR as a means to generating revenue, you are missing some pretty big opportunities. Well executed PR can make your organization seem larger than it is and generate a buzz about your brand. This is certainly useful for attracting customers, but it also does wonders for employee recruiting, team pride, and investor relations. People looking to join your organization, or invest in it, will do a search for your brand. The results can have a significant impact on their decision.
We always joke that the first question a VC asks a start-up founder doing an investment pitch is, “Who else is interested?” Earned media works a bit the same way. Once you have some reporters, analysts and bloggers talking about your company and products, others will take note. You might not get into the Wall Street Journal right away, but sharing your story with smaller publications might capture the interest of more prominent authors who follow them.
Certainly, other marketing efforts are important. But, PR offers these unique advantages that brochures, web pages and advertisements simply can’t achieve. The good news is that PR doesn’t need to be expensive if you have the right tools to find your audience and identify key influencers, bloggers and journalists. The results are well worth the investment.