“You can say anything to anyone, but how you say it will determine how they will react,” says entrepreneur and investor John Rampton. This succinctly summarizes the role PR can play in the life of a startup. The start of a founder’s journey is a time of exhilarating beginnings — finding the best programmers, putting together a winning sales team, and acquiring the most viable customer accounts for their pathbreaking product/service. Yet, statistics show us how even the best-laid plans and stellar teams can quickly dissipate into oblivion because of a few foundational missteps. IBM’s study from a few years back shockingly pegged the startups failure in India at 90% whereas a recent NASSCOM study states that 70% of Indian startups have less than three months of cash available in their banks. It further reveals that another 22% barely have enough to make it to the year-end.
So, what goes wrong? There can be numerous lapses in judgment in the early days for a startup — right from misunderstanding market need, to miscalculating the funds needed to take off or even arriving at the correct business model that makes their innovation sustainable, scalable, and ultimately profitable. However, even if a startup does get all these factors right, success may still be elusive.
Having a sound public relations/ communications strategy can be a crucial differentiator that can help a startup break out into the market effectively, build a presence among target customers and investors effectively and win crucial consumer trust in the early days of its journey. And here’s why:
- Creating Awareness: Founders passionately understand their concept and product and assume so does the world. However, this is not true. This assumption that others too understand, causes a lack of information to fester in the real world, putting unknown startups at a dangerous disadvantage. This is where a sound PR strategy can help you immensely. It helps you build an articulate story for your startup and communicate it effectively such that your end consumer connects with your brand and understands the value your startup brings to their life. PR is also an ideal tool of choice for startups because of the credibility it brings through conversations driven in media and influencer spaces unlike promoted and bought content spaces.
- Brand Building: Brand building through PR may seem like a long route that doesn’t lead to any evidently direct sales. However, building brand credibility influences your audience to buy your product or service. Direct marketing strategies may convert into leads quickly, but that will only be temporary. A brand on the other hand is a strong asset to build that in the mid-long term will help bring down customer acquisition costs and deliver tangible and measurable benefits through sustainable growth in profitability. This will lead to an increase in valuation which is a crucial strategy towards raising funds from VCs and angel investors.
- Great Feedback Loop: The early formative years are when interacting with customers becomes essential for operations because products don’t sell by themselves. Interacting with the media will help you sharpen your brand messaging. The push of PR initiatives helps startups shape messages that can deepen understanding and awareness for audiences outside of their professional circuits. It builds reputation, with which comes credibility. Free feedback, journalist perspective, and the exposure, all come together to enable founders to improve their presentations and adapt messaging and campaigns to the environment.
- Online Visibility: 63 percent of shopping occasions begin online according to Thinkwithgoogle 2018 statistics. Add to this the fact that global e-retail is estimated to grow to $4.8 trillion by 2021. When it matters most, will you be visible to your consumer? Press mentions help your search engine rankings go up the value of which is immense. If the world doesn’t know you exist, or if they don’t understand what you do, your business will be no more than a mere idea.
In a digital-first world, driving conversations that are relevant, authentic, and valuable to the end consumer can be an effective way for brands to engage with their audiences. A great PR team gives your ideas visibility and amplification, working as a powerful launchpad to help your startup lift off the ground and towards sustainable growth.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions provided in the article are of the individual author.