Public relations (PR) efforts can help with brand awareness, boosting credibility, and helping you connect with your target audience, which can, in turn, improve sales. Additionally, PR helps startups create and sustain a positive brand image, which, although more intangible, can also lead to excellent returns on investment. Therefore, ensuring that your PR efforts go in the right direction is essential for your startup. Here’s how.
Putting PR Efforts Into Practice
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” As such, public relations efforts are intended to influence, engage and build a positive relationship and/or image with your audience. These tips can help startups do so more effectively.
1. Know Your Brand And Have Clear Objectives
Any startup needs to be able to articulate who it is, the portfolio it offers, its plans, and how it intends to get there. Once you clarify your organization’s overall vision and goals, you can target them through smaller objectives and milestones. Achieving clarity on goals makes an effort more likely to succeed and allows you to measure return on investment (ROI) along the way.
2. Keep an Eye On Competitors
With the rapid advancement of technology, keeping tabs on your competitors has become almost effortless. Gone are the days when a product could maintain its first-mover advantage; as soon as it launches, others will copy it and improve upon it.
The same holds true for public relations efforts. It’s vital to monitor your competitors in the news, on social media, at industry events, and so on to see what campaigns have been successful for them and what haven’t. Then you can take those learnings and apply them to your brand.
3. Understand Your Target Market
Years ago, when the marketplace wasn’t so competitive, brands could follow the mantra of “if you build it, they will come.” That’s not the case anymore. Today, startups need to identify not only their target market but also take the time to understand their needs, their wants, and the messaging that’s relevant to them as well as where to reach them.
This will help your public relations efforts to be more effective in convincing potential buyers that your product can improve their lives. Knowing your target audience and tailoring the pitch will help you connect more efficiently with clients and boost sales, thus strengthening your presence in the industry.
4. Always Keep Your Options Open
Things rarely go as expected. Therefore, we advise startup leaders to remain flexible and be open to adjusting their public relations efforts as needed. This is one reason you need to monitor your campaigns continuously. Startups don’t have money to waste, and you don’t have the benefit of past results when planning your PR campaigns.
So you need to be prepared for trial and error. Perhaps you need to stop a campaign entirely if it’s not working to salvage any remaining budget or adjust the messaging mid-campaign. Or, maybe you want to devote more funds to a campaign that’s performing really well. Any number of circumstances could arise, and the more flexible you are, the more successful you’ll be.
5. Build Media Relations From The Start
Not only does the media help to keep people linked with an organization, but it also has the potential to generate to help generate a positive image and credibility for a brand.
That’s why startups that have well-established relationships with journalists often perform much better in the market. Consumers have a lot of choices; therefore, they need information and assurance from trustworthy sources when making purchasing decisions. The best way to build your relationship with the media is to stay in touch with them often and share mutually beneficial information.
Should You Hire Help for Your Public Relations Efforts?
As you can see, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into successful public relations efforts. What’s more, the tips above are really just the beginning when it comes to PR. While many companies manage their PR internally, for startups, you may not have the expertise or the bandwidth on hand. And quite honestly, you may not be in a position to hire right away. In that case, it might make more sense to partner with an experienced PR firm that works with startups.
When hiring your PR firm, ensure you ask the right questions. For example, request that they share samples of the work they’ve done with other startups and ask about the strength of their relationships with media outlets that have both local and national reach. You could also request references from some of the startups in which they’ve worked. These people have been in your shoes and would likely be more than willing to share how public relations has helped them grow.