With 25 to 40 start-ups in the United States valued at $1 billion or more, and an estimated 476,000 new businesses hitting the scene in 2013 alone, PR is becoming an even more important piece of the success puzzle. Competition is heating up, and there’s no signs of it slowing down anytime soon – so understanding how to handle PR from the beginning will start your business off on the right foot.
Preparation is Key
While it is easy to get excited about a new venture, don’t engage in any PR tactics until the product or service is ready for it. If it’s not the absolute best it can be, you’ll run into issues with a lack of press coverage, or worse, negative press that can be difficult to impossible for a start-up to overcome.
Build and Establish a Brand Identity
Who are you? How are you different from the competition? What are your values? Answer those questions, and create a brand identity that encompasses all of that. If you can’t figure it out alone, enlist the help of others. Creating a consistent message across your brand identity everywhere your brand can be found is critical to building brand recognition and brand loyalty.
Craft the Story
To capture the attention of the press, investors, and customers, you must tell your story. Everyone will want to know more about you, where you came from, and how the idea for your company was born. Craft the narrative to help people learn more about you – and do it in such a way that it makes you hard to forget. Write as though every word could be a sound byte for a media plug. If you need help, hire a professional writer. Share the story across all platforms – anywhere your brand is active. Keep it consistent with your brand message and identity.
Stay Visible at the Top of the Corporate Ladder
Your CEO can’t hide. Make sure the CEO is visible everywhere and transparent about his or her involvement in your company. Your CEO needs a presence on social media channels and needs to be the face of your company with the media. As such, make sure the CEO works to build positive relationships with members of the press, and can share your story impeccably.
Embrace Social Media
Include a social media plan in your start-up plans from the beginning. Social media will play a large role in your ability to reach, engage, and grow your audience. You don’t have to be on all social media platforms – but you should definitely be where your target audience is. This is the place where you can share your story, make your CEO visible, and establish your credibility.
Proofread, Edit, and Research
It’s far easier to avoid a meltdown than to do damage control after the fact. Take for instance when Digiorno®’s hopped on the hashtag bandwagon with #WhyIStayed. The domestic violence awareness hashtag was trending, so without a second thought, Digiorno’s tried to capitalize on it. Quick to rectify the issue – the whole thing could have been avoided with a few minutes of research to find out what the hashtag was about before posting such an offensive tweet. If such a major brand can make that kind of blunder, start-ups can too!
Proofread, edit, and research all your content. Fact check anything you’re sharing whether it originates with you or not. Taking a few minutes to think and ensure that’s the message you want to send before you push the “post” button may seem like a hassle, but in the end it could save hundreds of man hours of work cleaning up a mess.
Get Help If and When You Need It
It’s impossible for one person, or even a small team of people to do everything it takes to get a start-up up and running. It’s okay to need help – and if no one on the team is particularly experienced in PR, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional. Skimping on PR can backfire and do a great deal of harm to your business, while hiring a professional ensures you’re putting your best foot forward at all times.
You don’t have to be a PR pro to get the right press for your start-up, but you do need to be prepared – and have a plan in place. Behind any great business is a great PR team.
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.Back