Start-ups leveraging PR to build reputation

Are you a start-up founder and confused whether you need to kickstart PR? You must be getting tempted by all those amazing founders sharing their Forbes 30 under 30 feature or other entrepreneurial articles on LinkedIn. Does that mean you need to be present there too?

Let’s first understand what PR is.

Public Relations (PR) is an exercise that helps a brand or an individual to build a public perception and maintain it. You are subtly reaching out to your target audience with a certain messaging that is not trying to sell your product or service. This is achieved through a plethora of tactics; such as a special feature, contributing authored articles, press releases or even being invited to speak at a podcast.

Why does a start-up need PR?

Selling your product/ service is only one reason for start-ups to undertake PR. In fact, there are better ways of selling.

PR can help a start-up gain trust from its audience – which involves customers, investors, future/ current employees, vendors, competitors and more.

Whenever there is a new idea, people are skeptical about getting associated with it. And start-ups face this challenge all the time. Hence, communicating in the right manner to the right people becomes very important. Having said that, it is extremely crucial to ensure that you are communicating the right information and not over-selling yourself. Sometimes one may get swayed just to win that article in a big newspaper.

Some of the outcomes of a good PR exercise will involve funding queries from new investors, growing your team with talented individuals and scaling up your business, among other outcomes. One must know their objective of PR before starting with it.

When is it a good time to start with PR?

I have often seen founders ask this question. While some say that there is no right time and you can begin PR even at the ideating stage, I truly believe that you should at least wait for your soft launch. There are a few reasons for this. First being you need something tangible for your audience to relate to. Even if you haven’t done a big launch, you should have a beta version available before starting with PR. Sometimes ideas fail or plans change, hence if you have communicated a set of messages through PR and you look to restructure, the audience may get confused. The messaging should be on-point to minimize ambiguity and to show that you are serious about your business.

How can you go about it?

Once you have your key messaging and objectives in line, you can start by drawing out a list of publications where you would like to get featured. Reach out to their editorial team over email or LinkedIn. Tell them your story and why it’s worth telling their audience.

Another way is by contributing authored articles in your area of expertise. Most publications look for original content which is non-promotional; around 600-800 words is industry standard.

If you have a decent budget, it is always good to get a specialist on board to handle your PR. You can either work with PR consultancies or freelancers. Try to get someone with prior expertise in your field. But always make sure that the content going out to the media belongs to you.

PR is a long-term activity as no one can build a reputation overnight. Stay patient and be persistent. You will get great results!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Shraddha Agarwal
As a consummate PR professional, Shraddha has almost four years of experience with more than 30 clients across fields such as corporate, finance, development, start-ups and healthcare, among others. Her core strength lies in PR strategising, media relations, content writing and creating intellectual properties.

She completed her Post-graduation in Public Relations & Corporate Communications, from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai. Other than work, she loves to indulge in reading, experimental cooking and contributing towards societal needs.

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