Startups and SMEs require an entirely different public relations (PR) strategy as compared to a much larger enterprise.
While bigger corporations opt for a sustained public relations strategy and positioning that spans multiple years, startups and SMEs do not always have the luxury of resources.
The only way to generate publicity through PR is having concrete news angles, and this can only be achieved if the brand has strong company announcements to make or groundbreaking products and services to launch.
It requires considerable effort to develop some of these initiatives to make news. In the early years, many startups are more focused on driving sales. They also often pivot their business model regularly which results in changes in their brand positioning.
Understand that PR is an awareness tool
PR is not a strategy for your brand if you are looking to drive sales.
You need to consider other marketing strategies such as lead generation or direct marketing if this is your primary focus. The role of PR is to leverage the reach of various media in order to reach your target audiences. There may be an increase in sales or leads but it is not the sole intended objective for a PR campaign.
PR is a very different strategy from other forms of marketing where content is produced on your brand’s owned platforms.
The best PR strategy involves announcements with strong news angles, differentiated products or services that are very different from what is available on the market.
To make the most out of your PR campaign, you should be clear about your objectives.
What do you want to generate awareness for? Is there a new product or service your business is providing? A new partnership? New research findings of your industry? Profiling your company’s founders? Putting out thought leadership articles about your brand?
Bigger corporations have the luxury and budgets to have PR agencies on retainer for many years to create a sustained pipeline of publicity efforts for them. Startups and SMEs, on the other hand, do not always have that.
Startups and SMEs may also not have constant reasons to make the news. For example, the launch of a new product or service or partnership announcements may not happen that regularly.
Thus, it is good to determine exactly what your brand plans to gain publicity for and when it is a good time to make the announcement before committing to a PR strategy (we know many startups and SMEs who are overly-optimistic about their product or service is ready for launch and as a result, start their PR campaigns too early).
Have a user-friendly website, marketing materials, lead generation and customer relationship management system in place before you explore PR.
This is so that once you get awareness through certain media sites, you have direct channels and ways for your audience to reach and connect with you. From there, you can continue to reach out to them, nurture them and possibly move them towards making a sale.
Have your product or service ready and ensure that you have already built some form of traction. Some startups or SMEs want to generate a PR strategy for a product or service that is simply a blueprint or a concept.
The very least is to have a working prototype and early traction in the form of a good number of early customers and potential partnerships so that the media will take your business seriously.