Tag Archive for: PR for startups

If you’re raising an investment round, you may have considered PR. Whether someone suggested it to you or you’re PR curious, you’ve probably wondered why PR comes up so often when you’re seeking investment. From your Series A and beyond, a good reputation helps you raise more money faster. PR helps you attract investors, provides ongoing confidence to investors, and helps the company’s valuation. These are the reasons investors like to see companies use some investment funds for marketing and PR. They know you can run a profitable business without PR, but you can’t be the market leader without PR. So, when should a startup hire a PR firm?  We work with a lot of companies either seeking acquisition or raising funds. Let’s dig deeper into how PR helps secure investors.

First Step: Segment Awareness

Many companies discount B2B or industry PR because industry publications don’t have the public cache of larger business publications like Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal.

But that’s a mistake. Industry PR is one of the most underrated PR assets when looking for investors. Investors often circle an emerging industry sector, like healthtech or cleantech or cannabis,  to find opportunities, and vertical publications are a great resource. Let’s face it – your startup will not be a unicorn until you’re a segment leader. This type of PR might include thought leadership or owned content campaigns. If your company does not have many search results, industry PR is a natural first step.

There’s another reason to start there: it’s excellent practice. Having 10-15 interviews under your belt really makes a huge difference when you DO get an interview with a national publication. And these credible pieces show investors you’re ready for a capital raise.

Use Data and Insights for VC Funding

A key trend in securing media is providing data to journalists. Journalists are more constrained than ever before. Third-party, statistically relevant data is the crown jewel for consumer business publications like Fortune and Bloomberg. But if you don’t have that kind of research, especially if you’re a SaaS company use the data at your disposal. I don’t mean customer data, I mean information like trends that your product is seeing.

The media isn’t the only stakeholder group that loves data: VCs do, too. Having this data really gives you many ways to capture VC attention, drive and lead conversations, and earn trust from stakeholders. And the best part? You can keep some of this data private and in your pitch deck, which you can use in your funding pitches.

Build Today for Tomorrow’s Funding

Less than 1% of companies appear in the Wall Street Journal or Forbes. Earned media is valuable because it’s difficult to secure, and the credibility factor is greater than anything you can buy. But quality PR is a marathon, not a sprint, and the investment in PR becomes more valuable over time because the more press you secure, the more likely you are to be seen as credible.

Sometimes, companies who are raising funds come to us to help them close a deal. They say, “If I could get a few pieces of press next week, that would be great.” While we might assist you with some sponsored content or contributed content, that’s still an incredibly tight turnaround for us, in part because we don’t know your brand, your voice, and your leadership. And unless you’re already in the news cycle, it’s even less likely a company will secure earned media in that time frame.

PR for investors takes time. PR is branding to journalists. Here’s a typical situation: our groundwork pays off when a newsjacking opportunity presents itself, and journalists trust our client because we had been building that trust for three months already. After that, the company became a credible source for relevant topics for some of the world’s biggest media outlets.

Remember, credibility is not something you turn on and off; it’s something you nurture and guide. That’s PR, and that’s why it’s so valuable when you’re raising capital.

Added Bonus: Crisis PR Preparation

When you’re in the middle of a raise, that’s the last time to scramble for crisis PR. Should you have a crisis, whether that’s a product recall or something more complicated, when you’re raising money or pre-IPO, PR can be the difference between simply surviving and thriving after a crisis.

Crisis campaigns start at $20,000, and that’s after you find a PR firm while your crisis is spinning out of control. When you have a PR firm on retainer, the crisis will still be expensive, but your management of it will be swifter, more strategic, and more effective. With the help of a good PR firm, you can steer your way through the crisis and out the other side with confidence and your brand intact. You might even get bonus points from investors for handling the crisis well.

Taking care of your reputation always pays dividends. When the timing is right to raise capital, that’s a great time to hire a PR agency. A good reputation will help you raise more money, faster.

Public relations is the art of managing communication between an organization and its various stakeholders, including customers, investors, employees, and the media. In the world of startups, effective PR can be a game-changer. Crafting effective PR strategies for every startup stage requires nuance. It can catapult an unknown venture into the limelight, attract investors, and build customer trust.

PR isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. What works for an established corporation won’t necessarily work for a fledgling startup. Each stage of a startup’s development demands a nuanced approach to PR. This article aims to guide you through the steps of startup growth, from seed funding to Series C, offering tailored PR strategies to help you succeed.

Why One-Size-Fits-All PR Doesn’t Work

Startups are like seeds. They require careful nurturing, the right environment, and precise attention to grow into strong, healthy businesses. Just as you wouldn’t water a seedling like a mature tree, you shouldn’t approach PR for a startup the same way you would for an established company.

One-size-fits-all PR strategies often need to be revised; effective PR strategies for every startup phase mean a deep understanding of the hyper-growth process. What works for a fully-funded Series C pre-IPO startup may work for something other than a bootstrapping seed-stage company. By tailoring your PR strategies to your startup’s specific stage, you can maximize your chances of success.

The Seed Stage: Planting the PR Seeds

Defining Your Brand Identity

At the seed stage, PR is the foundation for your startup’s brand identity. Before you launch into the public eye, defining who you are, what you do, and why you matter is crucial. Start by crafting a compelling brand vision that resonates with your target audience. Your PR should convey your product or service and your startup’s values and mission no matter if you need B2B PR or consumer PR. 

Building a Solid Foundation

At the seed stage, your startup is just a kernel of an idea. Establishing a solid PR foundation that can support your growth is essential. Start by recognizing your target audience and understanding their pain points. Your PR efforts should focus on solving these pain points and demonstrating how your startup addresses them.

Crafting a Compelling Startup Story

Storytelling is a powerful PR tool crucial to every startup’s effective PR strategies; especially B2B tech. Craft a compelling narrative highlighting your startup’s mission, vision, and the problem it aims to solve. Make your story relatable and emotionally engaging. Investors and customers are more likely to connect with your startup if they understand its story and purpose.

Building Media Relationships

While you may have little to show in terms of product or revenue, you can begin to build relationships with critical media outlets and influencers. Engage with journalists who cover your industry and share your insights. Establish yourself as a thought leader by contributing guest articles or participating in relevant discussions. Building goodwill in the media world can pay dividends down the line.

Leveraging Crowdfunding Platforms

Many startups at the seed stage turn to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to raise initial capital. PR is an invaluable tool here. Craft a compelling crowdfunding campaign with a strong narrative, eye-catching visuals, and a persuasive call to action. PR can help you get featured on these platforms, gaining visibility among potential backers.

Leveraging Personal Branding

In the seed stage, your startup is an extension of yourself. Personal branding can help you form credibility and trust. Be the face of your startup, sharing your expertise and insights in your industry. Ensure to engage with your target audience through social media and industry events. Your brand can become a valuable asset in attracting early customers and investors.

Effective Bootstrapping PR

Bootstrapping is common in the seed stage, and PR efforts must be cost-effective. Seek out media opportunities in niche publications and blogs. Engage with local communities and industry forums. Connect with bloggers and journalists who cover your industry and offer expert insights. Every piece of media coverage, no matter how small, can help build your startup’s credibility.

The Early-Stage Sprout: Cultivating Awareness

Product Launch PR

As your startup takes its first steps and launches a product or service, it’s time to ramp up your PR efforts. Craft a compelling product launch strategy that includes media outreach, press releases, and social media campaigns. Engage with tech bloggers and influencers to review and endorse your product.

Industry Events and Networking

Participating in industry events, trade shows, and conferences is an effective way to get noticed. Prepare a strong PR strategy to leverage these opportunities. Reach out to event organizers, offer to speak on panels, and arrange interviews with media outlets covering the event. Networking with potential partners, investors, and customers can also yield PR opportunities.

The Growth Stage: Scaling Your Visibility

Expanding Media Outreach

As your startup gains traction and revenue, expand your media outreach efforts. Develop a comprehensive list of relevant journalists, bloggers, and influencers and regularly engage with them. Provide them with valuable insights, data, and exclusive access to your company’s developments.

Attracting Early Adopters

As your startup grows, focus on attracting early adopters. These customers are eager to try new solutions and provide valuable feedback. Your PR efforts should highlight how your product or service solves their specific problems. Consider offering exclusive access or early-bird discounts to incentivize early adoption.

Thought Leadership

Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry is a powerful PR strategy. Publish whitepapers, industry reports, and thought-provoking content that showcases your expertise. Host webinars and podcasts to share your insights with a broader audience.

Securing Strategic Partnerships

At this stage, strategic partnerships can significantly enhance your PR efforts. Collaborate with other companies in your industry to co-create content, host joint events, or offer bundled services. These partnerships can generate buzz and expand your reach.

PR Metrics that Matter

In the growth stage, measuring your PR efforts’ impact is crucial. Focus on metrics aligning with your objectives and goals, such as website traffic, lead generation, and customer acquisition. Use social media insights, Google Analytics, etc., to track your progress. Adjust your PR strategy based on the data to improve your results continuously.

The Series A and Beyond: Attracting Serious Investors

Scaling Your PR Strategy

The Series A funding round marks a notable milestone for your startup. It’s time to scale your PR efforts to match your growing ambitions. Consider hiring a dedicated PR team or working with a PR agency specializing in startups. A larger group can handle the increased demand for media outreach and content creation. Building effective PR strategies for every stage will almost certainly include a seasoned PR agency. A seasoned PR agency understands effective PR strategies for every startup.

Investment Announcements

When you secure significant funding rounds like Series A, B, or C, it’s time to make a splash. Craft compelling investment announcements and press releases. Showcase the growth and potential of your startup. These announcements attract investors and garner media attention, further boosting your credibility.

Investor Relations

Maintaining positive relationships with your investors is crucial for long-term success. Keep them informed about your startup’s progress, achievements, and challenges. Regular updates can lead to positive media coverage and investor referrals.

Crisis Management

As your startup grows, so does the potential for crises. Whether it’s a data breach, product recall, or PR blunder, how you handle these situations can define your brand. Develop a crisis communication plan to address issues swiftly and transparently. Your PR strategy should include crisis management as a vital component.

Expanding Your PR Team

As your startup progresses to Series B and beyond, your PR needs will continue to grow. Consider expanding your PR team to manage the increasing complexity of your communications. Hire experienced professionals who can navigate the challenges of scaling your startup’s PR efforts.

Going Global with PR

If your startup has global ambitions, your PR strategy should align with this expansion. Develop localized PR campaigns to target international markets. Tailor your messaging to resonate with diverse audiences. Establish relationships with global media outlets and influencers to broaden your reach.

Effective PR Strategies for Every Startup: Measuring PR Success

Measuring PR success during all stages involves tracking metrics impacting growth and market penetration directly. Here are key metrics to focus on:

Customer Acquisition Rate

Monitor the rate at which your firm acquires new customers. This metric reflects the effectiveness of your PR efforts in attracting and converting prospects into paying customers.

Conversion Rates

Analyze the percentage of leads generated through PR activities that convert into paying customers. Improving conversion rates is critical for maximizing the ROI of your PR campaigns.

Customer Feedback

Collect and evaluate feedback from early customers acquired through PR efforts. Positive feedback indicates product-market fit, while negative feedback can guide improvements.

Churn Rate

The churn rate measures the percentage of all customers who come to a stop using your product or service. Monitoring and reducing churn is crucial for sustaining growth.

Media Reach

Assess the reach and influence of the media outlets featuring your startup. This metric provides insight into the visibility and credibility your PR efforts are generating.

Website Traffic and SEO

Monitor organic website traffic and search engine rankings. Effective PR should contribute to increased website visits, leading to more conversions and brand recognition.

Social Media Engagement

Analyze social media metrics like likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. Engaging content and PR campaigns should stimulate audience interactions and development.

Lead Generation

Continue tracking leads generated through PR activities. Lead generation is critical as it directly influences customer acquisition and revenue growth.

Content Performance

Assess the performance of PR-related content, such as press releases, blog posts, and guest articles. Track metrics like page views, click-through rates, and shares to gauge content effectiveness.

Influencer Amplification

If you’re collaborating with influencers, measure the reach and impact of these partnerships through audience growth, website traffic, and social media engagement.

Conversions Attributable to PR

Identify the specific conversions (e.g., sign-ups and purchases) directly attributed to your PR efforts. This data helps you understand the ROI of PR campaigns.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Calculate the overall ROI on your PR investments, considering both the costs and the revenue generated from PR activities.

Competitor Benchmarking

Compare your PR metrics to those of key competitors in your industry. This benchmarking helps identify areas where you can outperform or areas that need improvement.

Final Thoughts

In the ever-evolving journey of a startup, effective PR strategies for every startup serve as both a compass and a catalyst. It guides your startup through uncharted waters, ensuring that your message resonates with the right audiences while propelling your growth and success.

One key lesson to remember is that PR is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Just as you wouldn’t use the same watering can for a seedling and a mature tree, startups must tailor their PR approaches to their specific stage of development. From the seed stage, where you’re planting the PR seeds of your brand identity, to the growth stage, where you’re cultivating awareness and attracting early adopters, and onward to Series A and beyond, where you’re attracting serious investors and scaling your PR strategy — each phase requires a nuanced PR strategy.

Start at the seed stage by defining your brand identity and crafting a compelling startup story. Build a solid foundation, leverage personal branding, and embark on effective bootstrapping PR to get your startup off the ground. As your startup sprouts and enters the growth stage, focus on product launch PR, industry events, and networking to cultivate awareness.

In the growth stage, expand your media outreach, attract early adopters, establish thought leadership, and secure strategic partnerships. Ensure your PR strategy aligns with customer acquisition, social media engagement metrics, and conversion rates to support sustained growth.

As you reach Series A and beyond, scale your PR efforts, make impactful investment announcements, and nurture investor relations. Be prepared to handle crises effectively, and consider expanding your PR team to meet the demands of your growing startup. If you have global ambitions, adapt your PR strategy for international markets.

Measuring PR success by tracking metrics that align with your specific goals and stage is essential throughout your startup journey. Customer acquisition rates, conversion rates, customer feedback, and media reach are just a few key metrics to monitor. Your ability to adapt and refine your PR strategies based on these metrics will be pivotal in achieving sustained success.

In conclusion, PR is the thread that weaves your startup’s narrative into the fabric of the business world. It’s a dynamic and ever-evolving discipline that can make the difference between growth and stagnation when tailored to your startup’s stage. Embrace the power of precise PR strategies, and watch your startup thrive at every stage of its remarkable journey.

ChatGPT was a seismic event for AI PR. AI companies that focused on generating language models for prompts and voice commands were already years ahead. “AI prompts for ChatGPT” topics were all the rage, and for AI startups, that was actually quite frustrating because they knew there are so many deep, interesting topics to cover. And that’s why it’s not too late for public relations for AI startups.

As a PR agency specializing in emerging technologies, our clients definitely benefited from the burst of AI coverage after ChatGPT became a media darling. Still, our clients are already working on AI technologies that make businesses more efficient and embrace the human element to allow more informed decisions.

Journalists will cover artificial intelligence in the way they covered social media during its infancy: obsessively, as there are still a lot of stories to tell in commercial AI PR. AI-assisted technologies will continue to exist, so there will be endless types of articles to write, and they will not solely revolve around creating content or the disappearance of jobs.

The Case for PR Urgency

Executives and boardrooms are still unsure about what AI means for their companies. And tomorrow’s most relevant AI brands are taking the opportunity right now to create media coverage around topics that position them as thought leaders. An AI PR agency that understands the cyclical nature of PR for hyper-growth and emerging industries is an essential resource for AI startups.

85% of AI startups will be out of business in three years. From content to thought leadership to contributed content and niche audience trends, the PR strategies AI companies choose today will be the differentiator for AI startups from the earliest phases to pre-IPO. AI is dominating venture funding headlines and grabbing what venture funding dollars are available today, and that means tomorrow’s most exciting IPOs will be AI companies. And while those companies need PR for AI companies, even those who intend to stay private should embrace PR because the industry is at its most crucial stage.

Educating the Consumer About The Future of AI

Like with other hot emerging industries, AI technologies have the opportunity right now to develop positive relationships with stakeholders, customers, and consumers. As an industry, AI companies should take this very seriously because AI’s potential is scary to consumers, especially since consumers are still experiencing techlash from the unforeseen consequences of social media. Educating consumers about how the AI industry addresses their fears and concerns is a key opportunity for public relations for AI companies.

Even B2B AI companies should take the lead on educating the masses about AI’s potential. Why is this important? When the average person understands how AI will make their life better, AI will seem less scary and this is important to regulators.

AI companies can also take this opportunity to self regulate, instead of waiting for a government backlash from representatives who don’t understand what it is (see Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing). Taking stakeholders along the journey enables them to see the future with you, as opposed to despite you. PR services are critical to this journey because today’s actions will have an outsized impact in the future.

From content creation to PR campaigns, AI companies should lean into tech where it makes sense, and lean into relationships where it’s most important.