There were 30.7 million small businesses started in the U.S. in 2019 according to a Fortunly report, and that number is expected to increase in 2020, largely due to technology. A low cost of entry mixed with innovative technology means the number of startups is growing faster than ever before; 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, a lot of start-ups fail. In fact, nearly 90% don’t make it past five years. In the beginning, 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. At some point, you will also face stiff competition from cat videos, babies babbling, and the latest celebrity news.
However, there are strategies you can employ to establish yourself as a startup that cannot be ignored. Remember to also set realistic expectations, don’t be afraid to take risks, unleash your creativity, and follow the PR below.
PR Tips for Startups
If your product, service, or website is not ready, then there is not much that PR can do to help your company.
What do we mean by that?
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.
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.
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 startup’s 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 sound-byte for media.
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.
Don’t Ignore Social Media
According to Lyfe Marketing, there are 3.2 billion social media users. 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.
Good 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.
If you Don’t Know How: Hire
Launching a startup is difficult and implementing PR strategies when you are 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. Make sure they are a match for your business and they are as excited about your plans as you are.
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. If you aren’t ready to make that move, be sure to employ tactics that make you look like you have one.