22nd Jun 2020

5 things to know about PR for startups…

Last week MMC Partner, Simon Menashy, was a speaker alongside Cordelia Meacher (Managing Director of FieldHouse Associates), David Keene (CMO) and Mike Butcher (Editor at Techcrunch) and Caroline Plumb (CEO and Founder of Fluidly) at ‘The Europas: Comms for Start-ups’ workshop which focused on PR.

We wanted to share our 5 main takeaways…

  • 1. Timing

Start thinking about PR as soon as you establish a brand. There is a lot of preparatory work to do, well before you start reaching out to journalists or hiring a PR firm.

Consider getting advice early on from an external PR firm or advisor, even if it’s just a small engagement — it’ll help you even if you plan to do it yourself for a while.

Don’t leave hiring a PR firm to the last minute, just before a launch or other key moment!

  • 2. Positioning

PR is about positioning your company in the minds of your audience (customers, partners, investors…). You’re doing this through intermediaries in the press and elsewhere. So it’s important to figure out what your positioning is — know who you are targeting and why, and what you want them to feel and remember about your brand.

Consider keeping a shared document of talking points that you can add to and refine over time, eventually with the help of your PR agency (thanks for the tip, David!).

  • 3. Outcomes

Many founders believe that a little sprinkle of PR will result in floods of new users and customers. It rarely works like that.

Don’t confuse PR with direct response channels — it’s a different part of your communications and marketing mix. PR is there to reach audiences in a different way, raise your profile, build brand and SEO value, and borrow the weight and authority of the publications writing about you.

You can’t do everything at once — decide on the one or two business outcomes that you expect to achieve and focus there.

  • 4. Relevance

Be relevant to the current news cycle and the wider cultural context. Find the intersection between what your brand is about and the things that your target audience is thinking, reading and caring about.

That goes for journalists, too. Find out who is writing about your space, and what they are interested in at the moment, to see if there is an angle related to your positioning. This goes double at the moment — it seems like if it doesn’t have a Covid-19 angle, many journalists don’t care!

  • 5. Budget

PR shouldn’t be a ‘nice-to-have’, it should be used to achieve your objectives. The budget will vary on stage, what the goal is and other relevant budgets in the business

BUT… if you don’t have a budget… network with journalists and build relationships with them yourself. Generally, they are happy to hear directly from founders, especially if it’s authentic and relevant.

You can get a little bit of PR help from as little as £500 a month; many early-stage companies will spend between £1,000 and £5,000 per month. Over time you may need to expand this or find a second agency to cover a second language/territory, or for another use case like business vs consumer PR.

FieldHouse BaseCamp offers early-stage companies with the ambition to scale, but smaller budgets. It provides BaseCamp members with regular email updates giving relevant media opportunities, award / events notifications, and comment opportunities

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