PR is a crucial element to any type of business, but especially so to startups. It will make or break your success and it is important to keep in mind that you should be doing your PR differently than the brands you see on TV. They already have an established reputation and name, and you are trying to achieve that, so mimicking what they are doing in their stages of success won't work for you and your business. Your PR efforts need to be entrepreneurially tailored to your startup.
Here are five tips for you and your emerging brand:
A lot of startups expect huge media hits right away, and to put it bluntly...that's not going to happen. We get it, it's your baby and you are so close to it and so proud of it, of course you think the whole world should share your sentiments. And if you do your PR right, they will one day. It's ok to aim high and dream big, thats what essentially makes you an entrepreneur. You're a doer, a dreamer, you've got a fire lit under your butt and want to make stuff happen and that's what we love about you. But on the PR and publicity side, things don't move so fast and at this stage in your business (almost) any publicity is good publicity.
2. You need to have a designated PR person.
Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of attempting to wear too many hats. Just because you can wear all the hats doesn't mean you should. This is true for any business, but especially for entrepreneurs. Your startup is essentially your baby and this can result in you being too close to it to be able to accurately pitch/explain it to other people. You don't want to have to deal with worrying about your next media hit or rejection, how people are perceiving your brand, etc. You are too close to your project and that's exactly where you should be. Think of it this way, if you were applying for a job you wouldn't send your mom in for your interview, would you? Of course she thinks you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, she made you. You submit a resume, a carefully curated accumulation of your accomplishments that is (should be) factual. Think of your PR person as your living, breathing resume.
3. Be very, very careful.
Right now you are attempting to build your brand, so this is a kind of double edged sword. It's amazing because you have the opportunity to create and project any image that you want for your business, but if you don't predetermine what you want to put out there, then you leave the opinion up to the public who may or may not understand your business. No business should suffer a major slip up, but if, heaven forbid, it happens to Apple yes it will be tragic, but they have their already established reputation to fall back on. People will think "Yea Apple screwed up, but they are still an innovative leader in the technology industry." Your company doesn't yet have the luxury of having a recognized name/brand. These early stages will determine the future of your name, so approach them cautiously and be prepared.
4. You're important too.
Remember that it's not just about your company, your image is also important. You are the face of the company, and many times with startups their teams are usually small or nonexistent, so the public and the media will most likely be turning to you for interviews, information and more. In today's world of social media and cyberspace it is virtually impossible to avoid transparency. When people look up your brand they will look you up too. On Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, LinkedIn, everywhere. Small businesses have that personal connection and everyone will not only want to know about your company, but about you. Be active on social media and try to ensure that that your actions/thoughts are in line with those of your brand.
5. Do this.
Exactly what we are doing right now. Blog. Create content. Post pics. You need to give people material to learn about your company and actively putting out content will help you know your audience and converse with them. It's great to retweet this and share that, but don't limit yourself to merely sharing other's content. Create your own and get people talking about you.
What PR tips would you add to our list for startups and entrepreneurs?