PR has largely become democratised. Brands are no longer tight-fisted and wanting to ‘control’ how they are perceived in the public domain. The Internet, rising mobile penetration, technological advancement and increasing use of social tools have off late influenced the working culture of PR agencies greatly. Industry veterans believe that brands nowadays are in a constant ‘state of flux and prone to fragility with the growing prominence of different social channels’ such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
Today, subject matter experts, analysts, social media influencers, bloggers are with the media professionals and journalists as they enjoy the ability to influence the audiences at different levels. The information noise is more important than ever as it is faster, louder, interactive and also multi-channel in its approach. It is believed that stakes have become higher for businesses, irrespective of their sizes.
Typically, startups have limited knowledge about how PR works; they face the biggest challenge of ‘speed’ to attain their business objectives. However, it is heartening to see that emerging businesses and new ventures are taking the right steps as far as PR is concerned.
Although a new venture is launched nearly every day but investors have adopted a more cautious ‘wait-and-watch’ approach towards PR. Perhaps this is one of the key reasons why a venture like Flipkart was devalued nearly 27%.
Understanding that the business environment has increasingly become volatile, it is important for a startup to up the ante. Here are some key PR tips that will help an emerging enterprise successfully navigate the way forward.
- Step in and address concerns
PR professionals believe that a startup owner should come forward during crises and engage in effective communication to clear the air. When Zomato was devalued, the founder gave a detailed clarification of his point of view and also addressed the varied concerns of the stakeholders as well.
The onus lies with the startup founder or entrepreneur to explain why the crisis happened in the first place. It is mandatory for a business owner to come forward and communicate with the different sects of stakeholders like employees, audiences, investors etc.
- Decide on the spokesperson as per the need
Every startup should identify people within who can speak on behalf of the company. It isn’t necessary for the CEO or founder to step in to respond to all queries from the media or other stakeholders. PR consulting agencies vouch for multiple, preferably vertical-wise spokespersons as such a tactic offers benefits. It not only displays that the enterprise is focussed upon professionalism but also has thought leaders within. This helps to resolve a crisis quickly and emphasise upon the issue instead of an individual.
Every business should realise the significance the right messaging, in a thoughtful and thought-provoking manner. Hence, devote time accordingly and never commit the mistake of leaving it for the end as essential details may get left out.
Since PR agencies work closely with the media, they insist that startups give importance to adequate documentation such as backgrounders, profiles etc to detail out who the entrepreneurs are, the idea behind a business and the business model. Such preparations go a long way in establishing fruitful relationships across stakeholders. Putting out the ‘right story’ in front of the world is a key to communication goals.
- The PR constant
Many startup businesses are of the belief that a few media mentions are more than enough to build brand credibility. But, that’s not the case. PR isn’t momentary and never will be. In the world of news, media mentions are forgotten soon and the brand awareness created through them won’t be remembered for long until they are constantly worked upon.
To get noticed and build credibility, repeated mentions are important. And it is not just an easy task to maintain such a regularity, find relevant opportunities over and over again, in order to ensure funding, expansion, product development etc.
Last but not the least, the key to success is collaborating with the right kind of communication professionals and PR firms who are supported by the robust network and skilled in building public awareness.
For an emerging brand, the priority should be placed upon meeting client demands. Hence, a goal-focussed startup should either have a PR team or consider collaboration with a prominent PR agency that will let them maintain focus upon the core activities and ensure PR delivery.