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How to be an anti-fragile unicorn

Staying the course—or even doubling down—on communications and PR can help your brands stay afloat while setting the stage for future successes.

How to be an anti-fragile unicorn
[master1305/AdobeStock]

It’s not breaking news that a looming recession and tumultuous market conditions are on everyone’s mind. The current drop in valuations and capital flows is a significant test for companies of all types.

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The situation remains exceptionally dynamic, leading many to rethink their growth strategies and pivot to defensive postures. How can companies adapt to this new normal? Staying the course—or even doubling down—on communications and PR can help your brands stay afloat while setting the stage for future successes. Here’s how:

TAKE MARKET SHARE

For those well-positioned to ride out a crisis, market downturns provide an opportunity to gain share of voice as competitors pull back or even go under. Reporters need something to write about, and suddenly, companies are much less enthusiastic about engaging, reducing the barriers between most coverage and their media goals. Big investments now will pay off when the economy improves. But as customer and stakeholder demands evolve with a potential recession, refocus messaging around the long-term objectives and strategies.

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Companies that need to cut costly paid campaigns requiring a longer-term commitment can shift to earned and owned media channels. Maintaining a steady cadence of content like blogs, building an interactive social media presence, and investing in relationships with journalists are all low-cost tactics that keep you connected to core audiences while garnering earned coverage in the long-term. This moment also presents excellent opportunities for thought leadership; first-time founders and others who haven’t been through this before are hungry for advice on how to stay resilient.

BUILD VALUE BEYOND FUNDRAISING

Even with many venture capitalists (VCs) pulling back funding, firms can still support portfolio companies to establish a reputation that will outlast market dips. Branding and storytelling help enable companies to compete beyond price and valuation and support recruitment in a still-hot labor market for top-tier tech talent.

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To support value-building efforts, VC and portfolio companies can deploy content marketing and thought leadership to maintain visibility while demonstrating credibility. Aim for content that provides unique perspectives, lessons, and actionable insights tailored for today’s challenges; sharing your distinct expertise will help you reach new audiences and bolster your standing with existing customers.

REFRAME NEGATIVE NARRATIVES

The media narrative around market conditions is understandably grim, but not every company and sector is suffering. Customers and investors will be looking for a new kind of “unicorn”—startups that continue to grow during a market rout.

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To outlast negative media coverage, create a picture of strength with a pipeline of positive announcements like product launches, new hires, and partnerships. Lean into proof points like robust financial data or key customer acquisitions and success stories to strengthen your narrative.

SEEK OUT SILVER LININGS

Rather than cutting back, it’s time to go on the offensive with a proactive communications strategy. Tough times help build more durable and authentic connections with your customers, partners, and the public. These audiences will remember your leadership when the good times are back and balance sheets are healthier.

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Even if you can’t break through a sour media narrative, every company and its investors now have platforms to tell their own stories of weathering the current storm and how we can all work together to build a better future. Often the best way to get through a downturn is to drum up excitement about the good times ahead.


Kyle Arteaga is the CEO and Co-founder of The Bulleit Group, a communications strategy firm that specializes in sci-fi-worthy tech

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