Today there are more than 30 startups in the United States, Europe and China that are valued at $1 billion or more and that number is expected to increase. With 100 million startups opening up each year and 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide, competition to become the next big thing is brutal.
What does this mean for startups looking to establish their brand, get press coverage and gain recognition? The truth is, in the beginning it is tough. You will find it challenging to cut through all the competitive noise to establish your brand and get the media to pay attention to your company. However, there are strategies you can employ to establish yourself as a startup that cannot be ignored.
Here are six PR tips every startup should use to help gain a competitive advantage.
1. Be ready. First and foremost, you need to be prepared. If your product is not the best version of itself, you won’t get any good product reviews, no reporter will cover you and you will most likely experience backlash and negative press. And believe us, there is such thing as bad press. So, make sure you are completely ready before employing any PR strategies.
Related: Want to Get the Most Out of Your PR Pro? Follow These 5 Tips.
2. Establish your identity. Before you can tell the world who you are, make sure you know how to answer that question. To establish your identity, ask yourself: What are our values? What exactly is our company culture? What makes us different from our competitors? Are we doing something that no one else is doing? What makes us uniquely us? It’s important to define those answers and incorporate your identity, values and culture in every aspect of your startup. If you aren’t sure, ask those around you for help. Make a spreadsheet of the answers and rate which responses are the same. If there are too many different answers there is an issue. Fix it before telling your story.
3. Share your story. Learning to communicate a great story is an integral part of PR. After you’ve established your identity, you need to work on creating a narrative, or your startups story. If you want to stand out in the eyes of the press, investors and your target demographic, you must have a great story to share about who you are and how you got started. It will not only help you connect to your audience, but it will also make it hard for them to forget you. Incorporate this narrative in social media, in your messaging, during interviews and any other opportunity to talk about your startup. And a big key factor, use your company name in each narrative. Many people talk in superlatives instead of facts. Every sentence shared should be a soundbyte for media.
Related: Why ‘Pixie-Dust’ PR Programs Are Bad for Startups
4. Make sure there is CEO visibility. Your CEO or founder is your mouthpiece that plays an instrumental role in shaping your company’s image, brand and culture. Therefore he or she needs to be accessible and visible to the public. This means they must have a presence on social media, a positive relationship with the press and the ability to share your story flawlessly. Not only will their visibility create credibility and leadership in your industry, but it will also get them in front of the right people to help expand the business.
5.Don’t ignore social media. Establishing your brand and staying above the fray is all encompassing, time consuming and a lot of hard work. However, don’t forget the importance of creating a social-media strategy that represents your brand, your values and culture. In fact, you need to create an engaging social-media plan from the beginning to grow your presence. A good execution strategy for social media will allow you to establish your identity and credibility in your industry, share your story and position your CEO as a thought leader and pioneer. You need to dedicate time to directly engage with your followers, answer questions, share information and include them in the conversation.
6. Hire if you need help. Launching a startup is difficult and implementing strong PR strategies when you are just getting your foot off the ground can be challenging. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone, you can hire a professional. That said, you need to make sure they are a great match for your business and are excited about your plans. A good PR firm will help you establish a strong identity, effectively communicate your story to the right people, create thought leadership opportunities for your CEO and establish an engaging social-media program. They will build your brand, help you stand out, increase your visibility and get you in front of decision makers.
by Shana Starr