If you haven’t already thought about implementing a public relations (PR) strategy into your integrated marketing plan, now is a great time to get started. A simple news story on your product, service or new business could open the door to sales opportunities, business partnerships, interested investors or funding groups. As a start-up company, these opportunities are crucial for business growth. To make the most of every opportunity, considering the addition of public relations to your marketing strategy could strengthen awareness of your brand and products.
What is Public Relations?
Many people often confuse PR and marketing. So, what is public relations and how is it really different from marketing and sales? Public relations builds, strengthens and supports the overall brand, while marketing provides the building blocks of the brand itself and supports the PR and Sales teams. Public relations is the “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In other words, PR offers a more forward-facing approach to marketing by setting-up your company with a positive reputation to the public.
Companies that make a commitment to PR, and do it well, typically see an immediate return even, if minimal time and budget is being invested. The goal of your public relations program should be to obtain maximum positive exposure for your company by creating awareness and understanding of the business. This applies to those both within and outside of the industry. To support this, the communications you create should deliver clear, consistent and concise communications to all audiences. Along with this, PR partners with marketing to amplify efforts and activities that are in your company’s best interest and overall strategy.
Public Relations Strategy
Because start-ups need to establish themselves in the media, start by developing a proactive public relations plan that will utilize new media, such as social media platforms, as well as traditional media methods like editor and/or analyst interviews. At the same time, consider implementing strategies and tactics designed to position your company as a thought leader through speaking engagements or writing contributed articles. For an example of contributing content, check out this Launch blog that was also featured in MarketingProfs.
When determining your media goals, understand which media outlets will best present your messaging or your product and service offerings. Social media is a free but effective way to present your organization to the public. Create social media profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other channels that make the most sense for your company and brand. You can also create cost-effective paid ads on networks like LinkedIn to get more exposure to the right audiences. Increasing traffic to your website can bring in various types of users and potential leads that consume your content.
To organically boost traffic and inbound links, strategically target news and industry sites to garner attention for your custom content, which can help in getting it featured and published. Readers on these sites will consume your content and take the next steps by visiting your website to learn more. Using media outlets this way is important for building brand awareness and lead generation.
A major part of your start-up company’s PR strategy is relationships. Developing key relationships with the media are crucial and to start this, create a target outreach list. What news outlets in your industry make sense to contact? If your start-up is in the cybersecurity industry, identify and target common news outlets or media channels that users might go to for cybersecurity news and updates. After narrowing down this list, identify journalists, reporters or other contacts that are involved. Organizations like Business Wire can be a good place to begin looking at possible distribution lists. You can also read more on how to build a media list that gets you press.
Upon forming these connections and establishing relationships, they can view your company as industry experts and an option for quotes, industry perspectives and validation of information on topics. Having a PR team will guide this element of your PR strategy and produce desired results for your start-up.
Public Relations Activities
PR teams are responsible for everything communications related and is integrated with marketing initiatives as well. Some examples of tasks that PR teams strategize and execute are:
- Issuing press releases
- Pursuing editorial or analyst opportunities
- Registering for speaking engagements
- Nominating business for industry awards
- Authoring contributed articles/byline articles
- Writing success stories, customer testimonials and client case studies
- Negotiating sponsorship opportunities
- Establishing industry and business partnerships
- Developing a user reference program
- Becoming active in community relations
- Announcing a new product or service
- Reporting on industry or market changes
- Planning promotional events and activities
- Monitoring for any and all company and brand mentions
These different communications are all aims to get your start-up’s brand and offerings on the radar of potential buyers. With the right strategy, your efforts will match your targeted personas, be recognized by media outlets, as well as the general public. As a start-up, it is always in your best interest to increase publicity as it allows for the possibility of business growth opportunities to take place. Your PR team can make these opportunities possible through their communications and integration with other marketing initiatives.
The outcome of all the activity generated by a dedicated public relations program will result in an overall increase in awareness of your company, exposure to potential business partnerships, validation of leadership in industry and visibility for the company. Most importantly, you have added significant value to your integrated marketing plan by adding a public relations component to the marketing mix.