How to effectively approach public relations in a start-up?

Nowadays we have all heard of the term “start-up” company. These are newly established organizations trying to succeed with a minimum financial input and an innovative idea or product that satisfies a certain need better than competition. In most cases, these companies have a precisely designed short-term strategy aimed at achieving rapid growth and high earnings over a short period of time. Due to the rapid growth, constant changes and a desire for immediate results, start-ups often encounter major challenges in public relations. So, what is needed for a start-up to successfully build-up its public relations?

Establish your strategy, but be flexible
Even small, newly founded organizations must prepare a well-developed strategy for successful communication with important stakeholders. However, the fundamental differences begin to emerge in implementing these strategies. Start-ups can’t copy major organizations and expect to be successful, if nothing else – because of the number of employees and the resources available. Therefore, it is important to carefully determine communication objectives that will definitely help in achieving business objectives, but be aware that such objectives can change on a daily basis. It is crucial to research who the target public is, and where and how to reach this audience. In most cases, start-ups are targeting groups that rarely read newspapers or watch television. Therefore, mass mailing of press releases is likely to be less successful, as activities and communication messages need to be tailored to the various groups of the public or stakeholders.

Start with a good story
Unlike established companies or those who have been present in the market for a long time, the public doesn’t know anything about newly founded start-up brands – they have no public image. That is why it is crucial at the very beginning for such companies to create a great story and connect themselves with it. Stories have the power to excite people and encourage them to act, as well as help make things more memorable. A good story should be created based on a product or service, based on the purpose or objective of the organization, or on the basis of passion and vision leading certain start-up in its operations and fulfilment of their client’s needs. Good stories often relate to the founder or the establishment of a company, the innovation of the product or service, the response of a start-up to current events, or to attention-grabbing cooperation with other already established organizations.

Efficient communication with the media is crucial
Although only specific groups are usually targeted, cooperation with journalists and representatives of the media is still important. Experts in start-ups need to first determine which media and content their target audience is following and carefully discern the key reporters who report on such topics. Then, it is crucial that the story, which is already being focused on achieving a particular communication objective, is adjusted to the medium you wish to appear in. Making a single press release and mass mailing it won’t be successful in most cases, as a start-up has no news value for the public in itself and a widespread coverage can’t be expected.

Search for the “modern” public
Finally, it is necessary to emphasize that adapting the story, content and methods of communication is by far not necessary only for journalists. Public interest – especially the public often targeted by start-ups and their innovations – in classical media is decreasing. There are a number of platforms on the Internet, where the “new-age public” hangs out, be it social networks like Facebook and Twitter, or decentralized platforms such as Redditand Medium. It is therefore important that these target groups, if of course beneficial in achieving communication goals, are also being focused on by start-ups. However, they must be very careful in such activities because the users of modern platforms are very sceptical of content that is too sales-oriented, and there are many cases where communication activities on such channels caused more damage than benefit. For example, this happened to Nissanwith the allegations that the company tried to artificially recreate online interaction with certain individuals.

A public relations build-up needs to be adapted in a number of ways in a rapidly changing world of start-ups. If companies want to interfere with established practices, challenge the status quo and thus open new markets and achieve exceptional results, they need to communicate this way, too.

Nejc Horvat

Assistant

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