For many Fortune 500 companies, PR is a critical part of the business.
Whether it’s proactive or reactive communications, a great public relations team is able to protect the brand and help curate a story that clearly articulates the value and benefit of the business.
In many cases PR teams can be quite large using both internal and external agency resources. But if you are a startup, what’s the best approach?
While big companies need PR to protect the brand, startups need PR to help create it in the first place. We are living in a world where everything you create is part of your intellectual property. This includes products, but also the story of your business and how you tell it.
To protect your story, my recommendation to startups is to bring on a PR person early and build an in-house team around them.
Oftentimes perception is reality to consumers, perspective employees, and to current and perspective investors. It’s a critical part of the business and it’s something I will always over-invest in.
Here are three reasons why I feel every startup should invest in an in-house PR team early on.
As you build your company you should think about the problem you are solving. You want to ensure the products and experiences you deliver are solving a real pain point for customers. Once you have established your strategy and solution, you need to consider how you will go about communicating it. That is where storytelling comes into place.
If PR has a seat at the table early on your story will be better. You’ll answer questions like:
- What is the problem you are trying to solve for customers?
- What did you learn along the way?
- Why is your solution better than the alternatives?
- How will the world be different because of what you developed?
- Are you really taking a customer centric approach to the business?
Those questions should not be answered in a vacuum or at the end of the line when a company wants to create awareness.
A great PR person is a well-read PR person. That means they are keeping an eye on industry trends, news, and analysis. Startups should embrace and pull this knowledge in as early as possible.
Your PR team should know:
- Are you building a product that truly differentiates from the competition?
- Where have others tried and failed?
- Where have others tried and succeeded?
- What does the marketplace think, believe, and want to know right now?
By empowering the PR team to have a voice at the table early on, they can use communications history as a guide for what people are expecting and what they need to be delighted, a key tenet of strategic planning.
External messages are no different than internal messages. What you tell press, partners, and customers is the same thing you need to be telling your employees.
As you begin to craft outbound messages, you should also think about how those messages will reverberate internally. If a startup thinks about this early on they can create a culture where everyone is focused on telling and delivering the same story.
Whether it is the development of a vision that is supported by great products, using the desired external communications internally often serve as a rallying and inspirational point of reference for people to accept and embrace day in and day out. Having everyone locked in and working towards the same goal from the start makes the journey part of the reward for everyone.
—Asha Sharma is the chief marketing officer of Porch.com. In this role Asha is responsible for marketing, communications, growth, sales, revenue operations, and customer support. Asha’s responsibility spans brand, revenue, and resource allocation.