It is a general notion that Public Relations is something that well-established, large-scale companies, or companies that have suffered from bad press, need to invest in. This could not be farther from the truth. After all, every company, no matter what it does, stands on the needs and demands of people and consumers. Backing the burgeoning number of start-ups taking the corporate world by storm, are entrepreneurs who have identified a demand, whether niche or widespread, and have consequently decided to address this demand. So what is it about PR that helps to convert a visionary dream into an inspiring reality?
How Credible Are You?
Publicity is an obvious product of PR, but this does not just mean inane visibility in the public eye. It also means credibility. Whether it is journalists and industry experts commenting on your company’s product or service, or your leaders being published in renowned magazines and platforms, PR unlike advertising, takes publicity a step further. While an ad may get you noticed, a feature in a top publication will ensure that your potential and existing customers see you in good company, backed up by reputed journalists and influencers or certified by leading experts. In discerning mere visibility from genuine credibility, it is also important to look at the nature of your product or service. For example, in the realm of cosmetics, nutraceuticals and medical products, it is not just the public that needs to be convinced of the safety and integrity of what you offer; it is also the concerned regulatory authorities. In such cases, popular media is not necessarily the sole way to go. Academic institutions and independent research labs that periodically publish papers and reports can be great resources, not just for internal validation, but also for credibility support in front of the external audience.
Investing Early On
If you invest in PR in your early stages, you have already started establishing a ‘connect’ with your audience, possibly even before you need something from them in return. It is advisable, also, to begin your PR activities before the launch of your company, or a new product or service. This creates excitement and anticipation, and serves as an effective run up to your actual launch, while ensuring that your launch activities actually reach the right people. Is the only answer to bombard the audience with snappy, witty ads? Despite everyone’s tendency to be more receptive to bite-sized content, when it actually comes to making the decision to purchase, people tend to invest time in thorough research. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, a whopping 70% of consumers prefer acquiring knowledge about a company from articles rather than ads. And if you still have your doubts about whether people really read the content you put out there, know that according to a Content Marketing Association study, 68% of consumers actually like to read branded content.
Making the Cash Register Ring
You’ve established a place in the market, you’re gaining credibility. A foundation has been set, but sustaining yourself in the market and staying relevant involve growth. A good PR strategy is a great way to drive sales. Close to 93% of B2B buyers resort to an internet search to initiate the buying process. And that’s why it’s important for you to be visible. PR is about perception, an aspect that smaller companies can massively benefit from. As a start-up, you may have developed cutting-edge products, or are providing much-needed services, but your scale is small and so is your audience.
Despite advertising, you may be losing out to bigger companies, many of which achieve sales largely based on their reputation and monopoly in the market. Good PR can help your start-up disrupt this monopoly. It can help you create a perception in the public eye that you are a leader in your field. Whether it is thought leadership content published in a leading magazine, or an article mention from a journalist, people listen to experts. In fact, a Demand Gen Report states that 96% of B2B buyers look for content that involves industry insight from trusted leaders. Now, more than ever, people like to be well-informed on what they buy and consume. According to the same study, 47% of buyers actually go through 3-5 pieces of content before agreeing to interact with a sales person. Clearly, expertise backed insight can do the trick like nothing else!
Growth-Hacking is but a by-product
Hiring for a start-up can be a tricky situation. But people, especially millennials today, want to work for an organisation with a vision. In a study by Hubspot, it was found that millennial consumers are 247% more likely [yup, you read that right] to be influenced by social media and blog content. Additionally, a study by Talent Now reported that 50% of candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even if it meant a pay raise. What’s more? The Harvard Business Review stated in a study that a negative reputation could cost a company at least 10% more per hire.
So, even if a company does manage to recruit someone despite a negative reputation, it’s going to cost more. Ultimately pay checks and perks do matter, but so does a sense of purpose, a solid value system, and a goal driven by creativity and innovation. Remember, in this case your audience is people who read and do their research on the backbone of the organisation they are considering working with.
Your presence through press coverage and on social media platforms can make that difference, separating you from companies that simply recruit, and putting you in an encouraging, lucrative place where your vision and pioneering ideas are open to all, to be shared with the world. Acquiring new talent isn’t the only way to grow, though. Funding is an important factor for a start-up to blossom. With good PR, you give investors a reason to put their money in your hands. While pitches and proposals are essential, it is the credibility gained from PR that can give your company that extra edge in convincing investors that you are worth it.
In doubt, remember that PR is like your ‘Kung-fu!’ and it is something that will ensure that your voice doesn’t get lost in the Babel-like marketplace. When you know you have something worthwhile to say, the next step is to make sure it is effectively heard, ultimately making you strong in the long run!