After thinking of a great business idea and investing a significant amount of time and money in development, the next step is to bring the product or concept to market. PR is typically the last item on a startup’s to-do list ‑‑ brand building is not always a priority when sales are paramount. Many see PR as a luxury for larger companies, but in reality, it is essential to differentiate from competitors, build third party credibility and increase visibility.
Ever heard of Warby Parker? Today, the online prescription eyeglass retailer has grown into a billion-dollar company, supplying stylish glasses at an affordable price for a fraction of pricey designer frames. And Warby Parker founders Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal credit a lot of the company’s success to PR. In the early days, this startup only spent money on three things: purchasing the initial inventory, paying developers to build the website, and hiring a PR firm. Without selling a single pair of glasses, they interviewed PR firms to choose the right one. An online launch timed with a story in GQ got the ball rolling, and the PR machine grew from there.
“GQ actually called us the Netflix of eyewear. We were just blown away by the impact it had in terms of traffic and sales,” the founders shared on NPR’s “How I Built This”.
Here are three reasons why start-ups should consider the power of PR from the onset.
1. PR develops brand messaging
A good PR program starts with crafting the right key messages for the brand. It’s important to refine a concise and simple set of key messages, ensuring that each is supportable by credible newsworthy examples. The key messages should represent the market position and differentiation as well as provide the framework for all subsequent message delivery. Solid key messages will transcend across your business and are vital not only for media interviews, but sales and marketing efforts as well.
2. Third-party validation is necessary for earning consumer trust
A good brand can’t survive on self-promotion alone. There’s a place for tooting your own horn, but potential customers will be even more swayed when a third-party source does that for you. Outside credible sources are needed to tell and even sell your story, and an earned media placement in a reputable outlet is a great way to do that.
Recently, Austin-Based Briggo was recognized on Fast Company’s prestigious list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 for its robotic Coffee Haus. The startup technology company utilized BizCom PR’s services to share the recognition, and as a result Briggo was recently featured in Forbes, the Austin Business Journal and The Washington Post, among other outlets. Now, Briggo is not only sharing the business opportunity with investors interested in adding the Coffee Haus to their airports, convention centers and corporate headquarters; this media coverage is also doing it for them! And third-party validation from these respected media outlets is helping the company further its national expansion efforts.
3. PR begets more PR
Some of the first earned media placements you might receive are the industry trades that cover your sector of business. These placements are a great way to get the PR ball rolling, since they are often easier to secure as the publication’s audience has a vested interest in your niche market. Once those stories are published, they can then be used to pitch broader consumer-facing media.
Securing those initial placements is only the first step in maximizing a PR win- you can read more about that in last week’s blog. Sharing the media on your website, social media channels and e-mail marketing campaigns help cast a wider net of potential readers. It also helps with SEO to boost your visibility online. Startups should not look at PR as something only established businesses should have. Instead, it should be seen as a vital part of shaping the story of your brand from the beginning, generating momentum and visibility and building third party credibility.