How a good public relations campaign can give startups an edge

Public relations is one of the emerging tools of marketing and a very powerful one. Companies spend millions of dollars to build positive brand reputation and increase brand equity. It is all about creating the right perception for the brand.

Traditionally, public relations has been the focus for medium to large enterprises, who already have a business model in place, have had a consistent growth chart and an entrenched network of partners and customers.

However, times are changing rapidly. With India becoming a startup hub, an increasing number of startups, including those at initial stages of growth, are betting big on building a positive reputation for their brand.

The big question is- Does it really make sense?

The answer is ‘yes’. The primary reason being that any brand needs to focus on its brand positioning and positive brand building, so that they are able to have a differentiated stance for themselves in their industry. Public relations is a very valuable marketing tool that can give any brand an edge over competition and enable the brand to position itself ahead of 

While the reasons are aplenty, some of the key reasons are the following:

  1. Create awareness: Public relations is the perfect solution for creating awareness about a brand and its offerings via news reports, articles, industry stories etc. Even if you are a 6 months old startup, a good PR campaign can help you build awareness about your vision and objectives. This in turn can help attract the right partners, employees and customers.
  2. Build Thought Leadership: A focused and thought through public relations campaign can help build thought leadership and help a brand position itself as an industry expert. In case of startups who are trying to build their business and also fighting competition from big and small brands, a good Thought Leadership campaign can give the brand a head start. However, the messaging should be focused and well-articulated.
  3. Generate sales: A positive reputation of the brand results in positive growth. In today’s world of internet and smartphones, customers are well informed and do a thorough research online before they decide to purchase a product. Positive brand reputation in the form of positive news reports, positive reviews etc. go a long way in helping young and emerging companies to increase their sales. Startups do not have high marketing budgets and PR is the most cost effective medium for building awareness and hence, driving sales for the brand
  4. Build brand credibility: A positive news report goes a long way in building positive brand credibility via third party validation. While one could debate that advertisements can also do the same job, unfortunately advertisements are not taken seriously and can best expect a glance from the customer. Traditionally, PR has helped build trust and this makes it even for important a tool for startups
  5. PR beyond business: PR can help startups have an inside out approach about their business. It helps communicate the latest developments and your success stories to the right audiences. Startups are generally frugal in their expenses and run with smaller teams. PR works best to communicate about their focus areas, business growth, targets, to a variety of audiences

Public relations is an extremely important and impactful tool that can help startups and emerging brands to scale up faster and communicate to a larger number of audiences. There are numerous examples of startups who have leveraged public relations well to build a positive brand reputation. 

It is recommended that startup founders think beyond digital marketing/ lead generation and focus on a driving a public relations campaign that can have positive impact on brand building, both in short-term as well as long-term. PR is a cost effective and efficient way to build your company’s reputation and brand. However, one needs to run this as an ongoing exercise and not an ad-hoc one.

Akanksha Jain
Akanksha heads PR and Communication at BharatPe. She has over 15 years of experience in working across global/digital public relations, corporate and brand communications, crisis communications, brand and market communications domains.

In the past, Akanksha has successfully planned and executed public relations/brands campaigns across India and over 30 other countries. She is a start-up specialist and has extensive experience of working with emerging brands. She has been associated with brands like Pine Labs, MobiKwik, VLCC and Power2SME and spearheaded their PR/brand/communication campaigns.

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