Brand & PR – Can start-ups understand the co-relation?
As you google articles and tips on PR, you will find resources and tips for PR, specific to your sector/ start-up or in general but I will focus specifically on PR in context to brand building, an area which we few teams understand. This lays the foundation for PR to be “consistent” with brand and business growing at different stages and how it can leverage opportunities for marketing and consumer engagement (and not just stakeholder management).
Public Relations (PR) has different structures and context in the start-up world so it will be good to be clear on the broad categories.
- Corporate PR is quite different from Start-up PR and sometimes start-up teams don’t differentiate it well. PR messaging, building relationships with media, founder/ CEO positioning, PR strategy, timing, execution are some of the areas that need focus and precision by start-ups to leverage PR.
- Tech focus PR, sector specific or trend specific PR are categories that need the context for strategy/ planning, messaging and distribution which are also managed by PR agencies in India that have domain strength.
- PR strategy and its management evolve as the start-up business grows. It is important to recognise the contextual strategy and relevant resources or skills start-ups require addressing the PR of its company.
PR in start-up ecosystem
- PR is not completely comprehended by start-up founders. With growing bombardment of news and information, a start-up only gets highlighted when there is funding news or news that has extremities (bad or good news). Product launch, lateral stories about the company, feature/ quoted in sector news and founder profiling get lost or not effective in PR activities when PR as an approach is not inculcated as a serious practice within the start-up (similar to brand building & management).
- PR is also hired by growth stage start-ups to exclusively handle press, change or crisis management, and managing news than creating assets in PR that are linked to brand building and marketing. This is a critical gap especially in growth stage start-ups.
Brand & PR
Majority start-ups don’t see a co-relation between Brand and PR, hence, the ignorance. PR plays different roles at various stage of growth of a business so let’s focus on the most critical stages:
Brand Building: When start-ups are looking at building their brand with PR, it is important to get your brand strategy and positioning absolutely right. This will ensure your PR messaging is sharp and pitch-worthy because it has to be aligned to brand positioning. You can build PR properties in a few areas depending on the context of your start-up. It can be on founder’s story, product USP, innovation, market, trends or team but make sure it is worth it! The importance of PR aligned to brand is that your pitch needs to be “consistent” although over time the stories will be multiple. The consistency comes from what your brand stands for, not PR news/ stories which also been reiterated by experts.
Brand Management: Once you have built a strong foundation to the brand, your PR news has been consistent and PR presence has been across channels, management of brand should continue to anchor PR messaging. As your business grows, there will be multiple PR activities which need to be coherent with brand and marketing activities. This can be complex but important because PR can help you leverage your marketing traction in multiples if you strategically manage PR. Brand needs to continue to craft the messaging, marketing activities across channels should leverage PR. This is part of my consulting practice so I’m not going to share more insights as this is my favourite part reserved for my clients.
Tips & learning for start-ups
- Messaging is critical to PR and it needs to be consistent with your brand.
- Understand the currents news and trends in your sector to plug your branded content in a relevant manner. Timing, context and channel are important factors.
- Diversify your PR assets to optimise coverage. PR has a strong co-relation with brand building and marketing activities so the calendar of PR needs to be synced up with marketing team. Example: Founders/ CEO/ Team news, product innovation, market trends, event, marketing activities.
- When the start-up grows big and you are building internal PR team then PR team needs to work closely with brand team for messaging and marketing team for distribution of content.
- Execution of PR is key; building resources that execute PR coverage such as journalists, PR consultants or agencies is different from PR coverage. The former option is better for long-term activities and brand mileage.
Hope this article helps and will be introducing an expert from PR to write a guest article with me soon. And remember, PR is not just Public Relations but also PRocess, you will be only build it over a period of time like building a brand.