Launching a business and making it a success is an enormous challenge. Research has shown that more than a fifth (21.5%) of startups fail in their first year and this percentage steadily increases as time goes on. The overall failure rate for new businesses in 2019 was approximately 90%.
You can give yourself the best possible chance of success in this difficult environment by coming up with a solid plan to build your brand and convey a positive image of your company to your target audience.
For many startups, this means relying on crafting and executing a strong PR strategy.
Why startups need a PR strategy
Creating a strong PR strategy might not be at the top of your agende, but here are three good reasons why you need one.
1. Brand recognition
One of the biggest challenges associated with launching and running a startup business is having to build your brand from the ground up.
As well as making customers aware of you and your products or services, you have to give them a reason to buy from you over a competitor. That relies on building a certain level of brand recognition and trust - goals that a well-planned PR strategy will help you achieve.
One of the most powerful benefits of good PR is the credibility it can give your brand. Any business can promote itself in its own ads and marketing content, but it's not so easy to earn good press coverage or a glowing review in a trusted industry publication. If potential customers see your brand receiving positive attention on a platform they trust, their confidence to buy from you will get an instant boost.
3. The power of storytelling
PR can make an invaluable contribution to your brand storytelling, which is often cited as a particularly important element of modern marketing. A compelling story will help people form a connection with your brand and remember you, but it will also give you a unique identity that distinguishes you from the competition.
How to get results from PR
You can give yourself the greatest chance of getting a good return on your investment in PR by studying best practices and making sure your whole team sticks to them.
Get your marketing fundamentals right
Your PR work can't exist in isolation. It needs to be backed by a strong marketing strategy that complements and emphasizes your message.
For example, if a PR campaign goes well and you see a resulting increase in traffic to your website, the written content and other marketing materials hosted on your site need to be good enough to build on this momentum and to nurture leads along the buyer's journey.
Remember the three Ps of PR storytelling
The three Ps of PR storytelling can help ensure you're sending clear, compelling messages to your target audience:
- Product: Ensure you have a deep understanding of every product or service you promote, what it does and how it helps your customers.
- Purpose: Why does your company exist, what do you want to achieve and why should people be interested?
- Passion: Be enthusiastic and passionate when talking about your business and what you do. If customers can see you're genuinely excited about your venture, they're more likely to be interested too.
Evaluate partners carefully
Bringing in a specialist agency to handle PR is a common tactic for firms that don't have the time or expertise to do it themselves.
This can deliver great results if the partnership is managed in the right way, but it's wise to take a cautious approach and not to rush into a relationship before you feel confident in making the commitment. Key factors to consider when evaluating PR companies include how they operate (and specifically if their methods are compatible with yours) and the results they’ve delivered for past clients.
Build relationships with press contacts
Journalists, website editors and other contacts who could prove useful for your PR activities are unlikely to respond well to you contacting them out of the blue and asking for exposure on their platform.
A more constructive approach is to focus on building mutually beneficial relationships and making genuine connections with relevant figures in the media. Your first steps towards doing that could be to:
- Get involved in conversations on social media
- Be an active member of relevant industry groups and communities
- Share interesting insights and content that will help you expand your contact network
- Attend industry events
Unlike some other elements of your wider marketing strategy - such as paid advertising on social media - PR is not an investment you should expect to deliver quick and instantly measurable results.
This approach to building your brand and forming connections with your audience requires patience and a willingness to persevere to get the best results. Processes like building relationships with influential voices and the media outlets and publications you want to feature in take time, so you need to commit for the long haul.