3 PR strategies for startups growing

3 PR strategies for startups growing

3 PR strategies for startups growing

Admin | 08 June 2024

Founders tend to overlook the importance of Public Relations whilst establishing a startup. However, in the 21st century where digital media and Artificial Intelligence (AI) create and drive narratives instantaneously about everything, the role of PR becomes critical for the success of each bootstrapped startup in their journey to become an unicorn.

The success of every business rests on how well perceived a company or its idea is to the general public. It is either done by consumers and competitors, often in a negative light, or through strategic decisions taken through the brand itself. Most of the time, the former ends up in a crisis situation. However, the latter offers unlimited benefits and a specific narrative associated with a brand. Take Microsoft for an example. Millions of people worldwide use the word ‘PC’ to describe their private computers. However, the term was first coined by Microsoft itself, and described its unique products of desktop computers while Apple’s computers were simply known as “Mac”.

There are other examples of the same as well. Colgate becoming the dentists' preferred recommendation, or Xerox becoming synonymous with photocopies — the role of public relations has been critical in every possible scenario. Brands not knowing the importance of PR have also adopted this PR strategy sooner rather than later, rather than letting their peers, competitors or other stakeholders describe them. But all that has changed in the last decade with the advent of digital media and AI — powerful tools that can shape or damage a brand’s reputation within a fraction of a time.

PR is not issuing press releases

Many believe that PR is about timely press releases to the media. However, that notion is as backdated as Aristotle’s Linear Theory of Communication in front of Harold Lasswell’s contemporary theories. Why? Think for a second. When a business is issuing a press release, it is one of thousands issued on the same day. For a startup, what makes it stand out from a crowd so the media outlets decide to carry it? The answer lies in two words — Public Relations.

PR is the craft by which startups can establish a meaningful dialogue with their stakeholders, including the media outlets. The sole objective of PR professionals is to create a narrative that describes a brand in a positive and favourable light while setting up counter-narratives to stories or gossip that negatively highlight their clients. It is also a continuous process and begins with creating awareness of the business and creating a target audience, to whom its products or services will be helpful. Today’s digital media drives this narrative through paid SEO (Search Engine Optimization), with the drawback being a limited shelf life. This is how PR trumps the impact of paid SEO, by garnering organic narratives through productive interactions. An industry story mentioning a brand’s name and why its services are disrupting the domain with innovation and originality tends to attract more consumers than the top search appearance for a limited time on Google. The reason is simple, human curiosity and inventiveness. Similarly, numerous strategies can be applied by a bootstrapped yet growing startup at the beginning of its journey to stay ahead of multinational corporations that offer similar products and services.

3 PR strategies for growing startups

The importance of PR strategies is not only in driving sales or creating perception. It is a strategic communication effort that is planned to impact and influence the general public view in response to a particular brand. A productive PR campaign can attract new talents, and enhance visibility and exposure whilst improving customer retention. These are 3 critical PR strategies that can be adopted by bootstrapped startups in their journey to become valuable unicorns.

Setting a goal

Businesses looking to deploy PR strategies need to think about why they are looking for PR before they begin. Founders and other boardroom members need to come up with an answer to why they want to initiate PR initiatives and what is their end goal. This is because brands often have little idea or too much of it regarding what they want from a PR campaign. For example, a PR campaign that was designed to enhance the identity and brand perception will be ineffective in driving sales numbers. Another PR campaign that was developed to encourage fundraising, cannot garner attention for a product launch. This is primarily because the narrative of PR campaigns is often distinctive and needs to be determined based on requirements and target audience specifically. In the second campaign, where the motive is to invite investments, the target audience is a particular investor community who have little to no interest in the glitz and glamour of a product launch event. This is why setting an end goal remains critical for startups.

Data-driven strategic analysis to target audiences

There is a saying that In the 21st century, data is the new gold. The notion applies to PR as well and in the most unexpected way possible. In today’s AI-driven digital world where narratives are drawn up and change instantaneously, data is collected from a click of a button or stopping at a particular video. When a discussion regarding skincare products ensues, digital media channels go on over time to display similar products to the users. Every click, scrolling and stoppage time is translated to data to create a strategic analysis of particular audiences. By using the same data points to target specific audiences through PR, a startup stands to win over a community of individuals and turn them into retainer clients. The technology to avail these data is highly accessible and often free, which means no significant expense is associated with this development, giving startups a sustainable solution.

Crisis Management

Statistics say that 90% of startups are faced with at least one crisis in their first year of existence, and most of them do not survive past a decade. While developing a productive PR strategy for a bootstrapped startup, a robust crisis management protocol is critical for the business to survive. Startups can face numerous types of crises during their initial stage — from fund crunch, product failure, employee dissatisfaction and even natural calamities. To counter these crises, potential problems need to be identified well ahead of time, and a protocol to limit its impact needs to be created. For example, in times of fund crunch that lead to the business’s inability to credit salaries, a robust PR strategy needs to be initiated so the situation doesn’t lead to employee dissatisfaction and a drop in performance. This can be done both internally and externally, depending on the requirement but offers the benefits of sustaining a brand and eventually reaching the pinnacle of its success.

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