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What startups need to know about PR

Posted by Kanika Sinha

February 19, 2017

Public relations strategies for startups vary from their established, big business counterparts.

First, what is PR?

According to Forbes, public relations is the persuasion business.

They go on to say that the act of PR is trying to convince your audience to promote your idea, purchase your product, support your position, or recognize your accomplishments.

More succinctly, the Public Relations Society of America says that, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.”

PR is the art of creating and maintaining your startup’s reputation with the public. It’s your concentrated effort to build your reputation with your audience.

A startup PR strategy

Like your marketing, you need a strategy when it comes to PR. Your strategy is different than a strategy of a larger, more established company because you have virtually no brand awareness.

Your PR objectives include educating the general public about your product or service. They might also include raising money from investors, gaining new customers, or attracting employees.

All of this starts with your relationship with the media.

Why do startups need PR?

Your startup needs PR because it gives you credibility and increases your chances of becoming known.

When you do PR right, you may end up with a media (third-party) endorsement that gives you visibility which in turn allows you to reach out to partners, investors, employees and your target audience.

Good PR also helps you reach that audience in a cost-effective way.

Hiring a PR firm

There are many ways to hire out your PR. Your choices include the following:

  • A large PR firm. You can expect hefty fees with this route, so it’s best saved for established businesses or startups with a large cash flow.
  • A small or midsize PR firm. These agencies come with 10-50 employees and are best for businesses with budgets of at least $10K per month. Again, probably too much for a small startup with a limited cash flow.
  • Boutique PR firms. A more affordable option, these firms usually employ two-five people who want to provide a more personal touch for their clients. Budget at least $5K per month for their services.
  • Independent PR contractors or freelancers. Another good option for many startups, you can hire these people short term. Rates vary widely, but plan to pay between $1-10K per month for their services.
  • You as the PR person. If you have the time to dedicate to PR, and you’re willing to learn as you go, you can undertake your own public relations. Consider looking to your board members or investors for advice as to how to move forward.

Talk to us about how outsourced business services can help you allocate resources to your PR and marketing budget. 

Hiring a public relations firm or someone with experience can be helpful because they already have established relationships with media-types and influencers in many industries.

They are exceptionally skilled at dealing with the media and can help bring your startup into the spotlight.

What should a startup tackle first?

Your startup can begin its public relations with a strategy that includes much of the following:

  • Write press releases and disseminate them.
  • Write blogs on your own website and guest blog on the websites of others to increase your online reach.
  • Arrange meetings with area journalists. Either you, your PR company, or your executives should meet with them as well.
  • Join local PR groups or other networking groups in your city.
  • Build relationships with the media and establish yourself as an expert so you can position yourself to appear on TV or radio programs or in your newspaper.
  • Plan and conduct events for the media and the public.
  • Use social media to promote your business and build your brand.
  • Consider other digital avenues such as publishing white papers and videos.

Final thoughts

When it’s time to implement your startup PR strategy, start small.

Begin by engaging with journalists and influencers on social media. Comment or share their post or tweet.

Then, once you’ve introduced yourself and hung around for a while, you can call, email, or send a note.

Be short when introducing yourself. Get to the points quickly. Be real and don’t put on any pretenses. Provide some value to your new media contact and be genuine.

Finally, the key to your success is building a long-term relationship with the media. Your ability to provide them with something of value will have a positive effect on your public relations strategy in the long-term.

Want more?

Escalon provides startups and small to midsized businesses with accounting, strategic finance, HR, CFO services, taxes and support. Talk to an expert today.

Image: Dan Whale


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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