If you think Public Relations is about the coverage, I’ll say think again. There is a reason, why I started with this cautionary note. Unfortunately, people are generally ignorant about what is PR. As has been quoted in this article, “The main goal of a public relations department is to enhance a company’s reputation.”Few days back, I got a call from a budding startup based out ofNew Delhiand the first question they asked, “Hey so you will charge per article? That’s what PR is all about , right?” I had no answer, but to feel sorry, Fortunately, its not the general notion of all the Start-Ups around. Some do their homework before approaching and some have this amazing gift for PR and have successfully managed to create a biosphere for themselves. I thought, that before I start sharing with you various tricks and tips, about PR/Social PR, we should take a small run down, as to when you should completely get in the deep of the lifelong activity for your Startup called PR
Few pointers / checkers to go through:
Do you have TIME: Are you ready to give the time required to communicate what you want? Remember, you are a startup and what if, when you have a meeting scheduled with a journalist, the same day you get an opportunity to meet a prospective investor!!! How will you bifurcate your time?
Have you done your Homework? : A very important facet for any activity : the quality of the homework. I personally have started working on my own tech product and the first advice that I received was, do your homework, see what the industry has and what is missing and accordingly try to introduce what is the need of the hour..In short position yourself as the Need not just a Substitute. This entire exercise might take anywhere between 3-6 months, and so should be the time spent on POSITIONING your product before you start communicating about its existence to the outside world in the form of a PR exercise.
How are you positioned: Usually as a consultant working on a new start up, the initial meetings are a bit awkward but after that , the excitement starts sipping in. It’s time to give an identity. It’s time to Position your brand, a term coined by Al Ries and Jack Trouts has never been more relevant. Have heard of so many startups with uncanny resemblance to their bigger better and more successful brothers. Come on guys, try to give your Dream an individualistic identity. A name which is the most difficult and the most critical decision you will ever make. Give it a lot of thought and TIME.
I understand that what makes a startup different from any other workplace is the addictive and dynamic environment which keeps on changing. But, you cannot accept the pitching to keep on changing as well. A product which was initially pitched as an XYZ cannot be pitched again to the same journalist as ABC. This way you lose the trust and as a broader picture, the market. Hey you cannot dilute the brand even before it is born! In short POSITION. Need help, ask your PR consultant to brain storm with you. THAT’S HIS ROLE TOO.
Money: “Another misconception which people come up with is let’s do it for say three months? Well we are a startup and we really do not have that much money!!! :) ” Hmmm, my response: technically first month will be spent in understanding the brand by a PR person and the second in evaluating the market…So expecting coverage in one month is tad difficult, even for a major corporate brand. So try to find money for at least 6 months or let me put it up front, who is stopping you from doing your own PR? ;) Go out Guys you know more. Trust me on it.
Internal/ External: The biggest tussle, should you hire a consultant (That’s me) or should you stick with somebody internally? Will it be really expensive to hire an agency? The answer is as easy or as difficult as to what you will eat. You have to think, clear your objectives, try finding somebody you are comfortable with and sort out all the commercials. For a better and a robust solution, I’ll suggest, treat it as important as choosing your first seed funder. So you need to sit, decide, check and conclude what you want you really from the PR exercise.
Guys remember, you don’t paint your house from the outside, until the structure has been made, likewise have a goal and an objective and the foresight before you want to enter the PR game. Remember, its reputation building and to be of repute is imperative for your future success.
So, Startups, what are your thoughts on this article? Let us know by leaving a comment!
You can contact her via her Twitter handle @shaakunsethi or mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org