How Important is Public Relations for Startups?

By Michelle Heatherly

Public Relations for Startups

In the wake of an economy striving for recovery, more and more entrepreneurs are sprouting from the ruins of their predecessors. Each day births a new idea and with it a new business model. With a three-of-four startup failure rate1 basic knowledge and an understanding of public relations (PR) can fundamentally affect the success or failure of your startup.

As a new business owner, it is imperative to your success to know and understand that the greatest company with the best idea will not amount to a hill of beans if no one knows about it.

So what is PR?

The role PR plays in your business is to shape the public view of your company. This can be done through client/customer interaction, social media outlets and earned media – news stories, interviews and features about your company, its products or services. In a nutshell, PR refers to the information conduit and connections made between your business and your public – your target audience.

Determine Your Target Audience

One of the common PR landmines for startups is not predetermining a target audience. As much as you would love everyone to utilize your services, having a specific target audience in the beginning will prove much easier to market toward. Once a level of success is achieved with this audience, then you can expand. However, never forget your original target market – brand loyalty will take you further than you may think.

Social Media & News Media

In the startup stages of business, social media is the go-to choice for getting yourself out there. Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook, Twitter and even Foursquare as marketing tools to help you stand out. Using social networks to promote customer incentives and loyalty programs will keep your business in the front of your customers’ minds – and literally in the palms of their hands via network apps.

In theory, getting news media coverage is great for any business, but the reality is that a premature news release could do more damage than good. Look for the truly newsworthy aspects of your business before you alert the media. If you aren’t sure what is and is not newsworthy, you need to consult with a news professional or a PR consultant before you send that release.

Even if you don’t actively seek out earned media coverage, or news coverage, it is important, early on in the development stages of your market strategy, to have in place a nook for media relations. If your new venture is kicking up some dust in the business world, it’s likely you could be contacted by the news media, which will inquire after what your company is all about. This is an example of “earned media.” Having a simple Q&A session with your employees about who you are as a company can help solidify company standpoints and prepare you for any impromptu interviews.

How do you think startup companies benefit from public relations?

1 - The Wall Street Journal

By Michelle Heatherly

Previously the director of client engagement for Axia Public Relations, Michelle Heatherly’s worked to integrate clients into the firm and to ensure they are personally delighted and their expectations are exceeded. Her personal mission is to live a life that matters and to inspire others to do the same..

Check out these case studies for examples of successful Axia Public Relations campaigns for startups:

Topics: public relations, FAQ, PR tips

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