PR for start-ups: the value of PR in the early stage of a business

I’ve had a few very interesting meetings recently with a number of early-stage businesses, operating in fast-growth markets. The really positive thing for me is that they all really believe in the value of PR, and in what PR can do for early-stage or start-up businesses.
PR for fast-growth businesses

PR can support fast growth businesses

You read a lot about the bad things said about PR, sadly, often from journalists complaining about spin, badly-written copy, failing to deliver results and so on.

But if start-ups value PR, there must be a good reason. Why does a growing business, for whom cash flow is probably the most important day to day management issue, spend (often their own) money on PR?

Firstly, I think when you’re dealing with a business in its early stages, there’s much more opportunity for the PR team to really support the company’s business objectives. You tend to be involved with the person who’s directly forking out the cash to pay for your time, which focuses the team on the end goal, not the next press cutting. (And you’re more likely to know what that end goal is.) A smaller company can be more agile, signing off copy and responding quickly to media requests, for example. And they’re  less likely to want clearance through 18 layers of corporate communications for a quote, or an interview – all of which can get in the way of good PR, and I know frustrates many PR practitioners.

But the thing I find the most interesting is that the goals are so transparent. Typically, those goals will be one or more of the following:

1)    “I want to attract investment.”
2)    “I want to sell more, and grow to £xx.”
3)     “I want to sell in three to five years,” or, “I want to sell to XX company in three years.”

And often the strategy to achieve these things is very simple:

1)    “I want to get my company’s name out there, so we get on tender lists.”
2)    “I want to punch above my weight, to attract enterprise customers.”
3)    “I want XX company to notice me, so we become an attractive acquisition option.”

These are all things at which PR – done well, and in its widest sense – can really excel. PR isn’t just about media relations (although of course media can be hugely important in developing reputations). It can, and should, be about using all communications channels to reach a target audience – both direct and indirect – and creating content that that audience wants to receive.

By applying thoughtful advice, creativity and sound implementation, PR can make an enormous difference to the growth of a business. And there’s nothing more exciting than being at the start of a company’s journey to becoming a brand, or to being part of a team that helps it achieve such clearly measurable goals.

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