What is the Role PR Plays in a Startup?
Public Relations (PR) plays a crucial role in the success of and business but can be especially beneficial for startups, and small enterprises, for generating exposure and building credibility for the brand.
The goal for PR professionals is to develop communication strategies that engage customers through various channels, including social media, email campaigns, and press releases for clients in order to gain exposure that can build trust and loyalty in your company.
Traditionally, PR is the strategic management of communication between a startup and its various stakeholders, including the media, customers, investors, employees, and the general public. PR helps startups to shape and maintain a positive image, build credibility, establish relationships with key audiences, and ultimately, drive business growth.
Today, the way we view PR and develop our campaigns keeps the traditional in mind, however, we must also develop new ways that address what media want and want kind of stories customers and consumers click on.
If you're a foreign startup looking to launch in the U.S., this is what you need to know.
Before starting a PR campaign, find out if your business is ready for PR with this checklist.
Here are some key roles of PR in startups:
Building Brand Awareness: Startups often face the challenge of limited brand recognition and awareness. PR helps startups create visibility and generate buzz in the media to reach their target audience. PR professionals work to secure media coverage, arrange interviews, and organize events to showcase the startup's unique value proposition, products or services, and brand story.
Builds Credibility: Perception is 9/10ths of the rule always. When customers see logos of media that a company or brand has achieved, they are 10xs more likely to move forward in the sales funnel. Their curiosity and questioning of “desire” become solidified when they perceive the positive endorsement of a media outlet, or multiple. Positive media coverage can boost a startup's credibility, increase visibility, and attract potential customers and investors.
Increase Search Visibility & Clicks: Media stories can live online for years, so PR becomes a viable addition to your search visibility strategy. When people search and see the media story, it increases credibility and then prompts them to click the link in the story or search directly for your product or company.
Building Relationships with Media and Influencers: PR professionals develop and maintain relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers in the industry on behalf of their clients. By developing and pitch compelling stories, sharing updates about the startup, and securing media coverage in relevant publications, your PR agency begins to help build relationships with the media for your company. These relationships become valuable as the company grows and wants to continue providing the journalist with great stories that give the company added exposure for the journalist, media outlet and startup.
Engaging Customers: If you’re a startup, or even a small enterprise looking to grow, there is a chance that your customers do not know about you until they find you. PR offers the opportunity through media for customers to learn about your product or service, become curious enough to learn more through search, engage with your website and click “buy now”. Ongoing PR helps startups establish and maintain a strong relationship with their customers, and even has the ability to confirm the decision of purchase, building more confidence in the customer for future purchases and even referrals.
Product Trial & Reviews: Today, everyone wants to touch and feel a product and as journalists must be careful about what they endorse, it’s never been more important to offer media and journalists access to your product or service. Sampling programs open the door for clients to send journalists product or service links and get their feedback as well as a potential news story or mention in a product roundup.
Reputation Management: Reputation is critical for startups as it can impact investor confidence, customer trust, and overall business success. PR helps startups manage their reputation by monitoring and addressing any negative publicity, managing crises effectively, and maintaining transparent communication with stakeholders. Creating and promoting positive stories, user testimonials and case studies, and endorsements are key to enhancing a startup's reputation online.
Indirectly Supporting Fundraising Efforts: Startups often need to raise funds to fuel their growth, however, PR cannot directly target investors, but indirectly as there isn’t any media outlet dedicated to “startups to invest in today”. Instead, we must “influence” them through the media outlets they read.
While PR can play a crucial role in supporting fundraising efforts by helping startups craft compelling messages, create pitch decks, and develop media materials that showcase the startup's value proposition and growth potential, media are more interested in the amount raised than to write a story on the company’s fundraising launch. The more the better.
Employee & Internal Team Communications: PR supports startups in maintaining effective internal communication with employees. This includes disseminating company news, updates, and announcements, managing internal events, and fostering a positive company culture. Engaging and informed employees can become brand advocates and help spread positive word-of-mouth about the startup.
In summary, PR plays a critical role in startups as an affordable way to build brand awareness, credibility, curiosity and drive sales, manage reputation, establish relationships with media and influencers, support fundraising efforts, and maintain effective internal communication. For startups with smaller budgets, the right PR firm specializing in startups and small enterprises can create strong, focused PR strategies, campaigns and sampling programs that can hoist a company’s online visibility for years to come.
And great PR firms understand that, today, PR is more integrated than ever before, allowing startups and small enterprises the opportunity to compete with big brands.