How Indian startups can maximise the ROI of their PR budgets

How Indian startups can maximise the ROI of their PR budgets

How Indian startups can maximise the ROI of their PR budgets

Admin | 02 July 2024

The Indian economy is on the rise, and it is being reflected in the increasing number of startups in India. Driven with innovation and supported by policy reforms, India has quickly become the 3rd largest startup ecosystem globally, with over 1.12 lakh startups operating till October 2023. The number of unicorns has also increased in India in the last decade (111 till October 2023), with 45 of them emerging in 2021, and 22 in 2022. As the Indian business domain becomes more accessible and supportive, it has also highlighted a growing requirement for Public Relations (PR) activities for startups, but many of them simply cannot afford a sizable budget for it.

The majority of Indian startups often operate in a bootstrapped model and are faced with numerous challenges in their initial years. However, entrepreneurs are increasingly understanding the critical role played by PR activities that support their businesses in the long term and are integrating PR into their budgetary decisions. Once overshadowed, the role of PR to ensure the success of startups cannot be disavowed any longer. Latest statistics also support this claim, which reveals that almost 10% of startups fail in their first year of operation, while only one out of 10 startups survive the first decade. To ensure success, Indian startups can strategically align their PR budgets to maximise the ROI in some simple steps.

Coming Up With a Strategic Narrative

While finalising the PR budget for a quarter, or longer, businesses must come up with a strategic narrative that aligns itself with the brand’s growth and establishes a meaningful and interactive dialogue with the target audience. The PR professionals spearheading the PR efforts must understand the criticality of communicating with the target audience through a strategic narrative. Meaningful and interactive dialogue between the brand and its community of prospective customers offers ensemble trust and loyalty, creating a large consumer base that stays true to its products. Furthermore, the strategic narrative must also be versatile while catering to different stakeholders; the media, employees, customers, competitors and others have different concerns regarding the brand and similar outreach programs will have adverse effects on the brand’s identity and public perception.

For example, when Tata Motors launched its 'Karo Life Control Mein' campaign, it aimed to cater to businesses through its commercial vehicles by enabling them to raise the efficiency of their logistics requirements. At the same time, it scripted an image of Made in India trucks for the general public, innovative and efficient design to the media and a powerful disruptor to the industry to its competitors. While Tata Motors is far from being a startup, Indian entrepreneurs can surely replicate the strategic effort put into this particular PR campaign by aligning it to their business needs.

Establishing A Robust Crisis Communication Protocol

As mentioned earlier, 10% of startups fail in the first year of their existence. This is often because of their inability to identify potential challenges and lack of an action plan to address them. Crisis communication should be identified as one of the most important aspects of a brand while finalising the PR budgets, as it increases startups’ odds of becoming successful several times. In today’s digital domain, damaging narratives are crafted every moment which can become challenging issues if left unaddressed. A crisis communication protocol not only addresses potential crises when they arise but also identifies areas of concern and offers brands an intimation before it becomes an issue.

For example, when the popular FMCG brand Nestle faced a crisis with its Maggi Noodles in 2015, the first step the company took was to recall it from the market. Subsequently, the company initiated a comprehensive PR campaign focusing on informing customers about their product recall and successive measures to enhance the quality. This strategy worked wonders for Nestle to address the crisis.

Using Podcasts as Innovative Branding Components

Social media has evolved much in the last decade and presently, podcasts are the talk of the town. This innovative new-age media tool is present across sectors and speaks about companies, products, events and a diverse range of topics. For bootstrapped Indian startups, podcasts offer a great way to connect with the general population in a meaningful and interactive way, while promoting the brand, its mission, vision, and solutions. Podcasts can be done in-house or with influencers who have a religious following of a hyper-focused audience base. This also helps in promoting brand spokespersons (Founder, CEO or MD) as industry thought leaders, leading to raised awareness regarding the brand, and improving credibility.

There are several podcasts out there that have done tremendous work in their respective domains, and have been influential to drive brand stories across India and the world.

Conducting Periodic Events

While today’s society is hyper-focused on social media, physical events are still highly successful PR tools for startups. Physical interactions with prospective customers often provide better results than social media campaigns, and these can be ideal solutions for the bootstrapped nature of startups. Events can be used strategically to highlight company culture, products, milestones and even to attract prospective customers. Events are often visited by media personnel, which improves the chance of being featured in a favourable story on news platforms online and offline. These exercises tend to attract all stakeholders towards the business positively, and meaningful interactions lead to establishing a robust brand perception among target audiences. 

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