19 out of 20 of us now make our buying decisions based on recommendations and reviews, which makes winning positive references from independent journalists a key part of any marketing strategy both prior to funding and post-investment.
Whilst the objectives of pre and post funded PR may be different, the approach should be broadly the same.
Pre-funding, businesses will generally have limited budgets. And, often have their eye on the brand profile to influence investors as much as driving up sales. The temptation then is to try and engage journalists to promote an actual raise. This is something very few people are willing to do. Journalists hate businesses trying to hoodwink them into giving them free advertising. Quite simply they want news stories. And, even if the target is investors, a business needs to use the hook of some form of news angle.
“Investors will be looking for sales targets to be achieved. And to be seeing the business that they have invested in delivering the brand promises set out in the Investment Memorandum”
A funded business, on the other hand, is not necessarily so budget-constrained such that a marketing strategy and budget is in place as part of the way forward, it has the cash flow available to feel confident about the future and has a good story to tell. Once funded, PR is important from several perspectives. Investors will be looking for sales targets to be achieved. And to be watching invested business’ in delivering the brand promises set out in the Investment Memorandum. These Marketing Strategy will be at the center of this, and PR is a critical component. But the general approach, irrespective of the funding status, is the same.
‘What is PR?’, and ‘how can I use PR to promote my business?’
Simply put, PR is the part of marketing that reaches out into the external world and sits alongside social media. Both are important but traditional PR is aimed at winning positive brand endorsement from trusted third parties. With the obsession for ‘independent reviews’ as part of today’s buying decision, such positive endorsements are hugely valuable in driving up sales, acquiring more customers for your start-up and influencing stakeholders.
“Try and align press releases to the likely trending news or a relevant event. But, also keep your eyes open for requests coming from journalists themselves for comments and case studies for articles they are writing…”
‘New to PR’ businesses should focus on three key steps in putting their plans together.
- Have a calm head about the budget. Engaging a PR Agency can be expensive. And often will involve tie ins for a prolonged period to justify the work they will need to put in. Whether pre or post funding, at the outset it may make much more sense to keep the budget tight. Until the approach that delivers the best results has been identified. There are several online platforms to help do this. And choosing the right one will depend upon the level of help you need.
- Be focused on the ‘news story’ in the press release. This need not necessarily be purely about your specific product. Any brand mentions will help and will improve your ‘search engine optimization’ on Google. Articles, for instance, on how a business achieved funding could well be of interest. Just as much as the launch of a new product. What is most important is that the press release has an angle, beyond just the narrow details of the immediate business, that is of genuine interest to readers.
- Get the timing right. Try and align press releases to the likely trending news or a relevant event, but also keep your eyes open for requests coming from journalists themselves for comments and case studies for articles they are writing, either for immediate news stories or for forward-features they have in plan. This is absolutely the best time to get picked up, and has helped many startups, including our start-ups to know about in 2021, grow their audience. Again, there are several online services that can help with this. Some focusing just on specific sectors, and others with a more general approach. And businesses should choose the one that best suits their needs.
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