So, you’re working with a startup who was fortunate enough to hire you for their PR needs. You love their innovation, guts and entrepreneurial mindset, but you also know it’s your job to be diligent, methodical and ensure everything is inline before launch.
Here are the top three things to consider before pulling the trigger and launching a startup’s PR campaign.
1. Set a Unique Narrative for your PR Campaign
Having an established narrative that key players of the company are aligned on and truly believe in, is critical. The role of a PR agency is to pitch stories about the company’s mission, values and truths, with the hopes of securing third-party recognition to build trust in the brand among key audiences and prospects. You know a major killer of trust?
As a PR professional, it makes my job interesting when the CEO of a startup describes their company one way, the sales manager another and the developer in an entirely different context. Without a consistent brand message, it’s difficult to take a new product or service to market and inform the public about why they should want it.
It’s my duty to dig deeper to provide that PR advice, and get into the core offerings and help the team finesse their messaging. Once this is set and approved by all parties, I can leverage the key messages and established narrative in my outreach to key reporters, with the hopes of securing that third-party recognition for the company’s brand and offerings.
2. Assess and Optimize your PR Agency’s Online Presence
Here’s what I do when I read an article about a product or a service I’m interested in or intrigued by:
- I Google it.
- I visit the company’s website.
The first thing potential customers will notice when they reach a company’s website is if it looks good. If it’s cluttered, looks unprofessional or is outdated, chances are those potential prospects aren’t going to give you the time of day to learn more about your product or service.
Why? Because they no longer trust that the company is reputable and that their offerings are worth the money.
To put it bluntly, they think the company doesn’t have their sh*t together. At least not together enough to ensure the prospect has a positive experience when they show up to the site.
Let’s say the website is really beautiful (yay!). So the prospect goes so far as to start reading what it has to say. But then they find themselves going, “huh?” a lot. They become lost and the site’s navigation does little to help. Lucky for them they do know what that trusty little “x” in the top right corner of the browser tab will do. (Spoiler alert: They press it.)
The bottomline: if you’re working with a startup and land them a big story that inevitably brings attention to their not-so-great website, you didn’t do them any justice. For your public relations campaign to be effective in the long run, the website should be presentable and have the key messaging you helped develop incorporated, before you start directing prospects it’s way.
They don’t need the fanciest website ever created, nor do they need the most eloquent copy ever written.
All they need is:
✓ A clean website that’s easy to navigate
✓ Concise copy that answers prospects’ questions
3. Set realistic expectations around ROI and KPIs
So, a startup hires a PR company and they walk into a bar…
Story goes like this: The startup leaves the bar sad and alone. Bummed because they didn’t make it into Forbes, like, yesterday. And the PR company is still back there drinking. Wondering what they did wrong.
Instead, a good PR agency should:
- Set realistic expectations and PR campaign goals from the start.
- Propose a campaign that tells the company’s truth effectively to target audiences that are most open to hear it.
- Identify goals for an effective PR campaign that can effectively move the needle on.
To the last point, this may look like reaching out to regional media outlets and getting bites versus reaching out to big national players and getting lost in the sea of others doing the same thing.
Whatever your goals are for a successful PR campaign, you need to be clear on how to attain them and how to measure (and celebrate!) your successes. You also need to make sure the startup you're working with is clear on what to expect.
If it makes sense to pump the breaks and fix up that website before launch, do so. If the key players at the company can’t get on the same page about the mission and goals, take some time to debrief, brainstorm and align. Whatever the issue, keep the startup in the loop on the why and how. They’ll thank you for it come launch time — and your media relationships will be all the better for it.