Marketing is its own best advocate, getting all the credit with branded content, expensive ads, and quirky social media posts. Public Relations, on the other hand, is marketing’s neglected sibling.
The IDC reports that tech companies only allocated 3.8 percent of their marketing budgets to PR. Startup founders often view PR as an unnecessary expenditure with unclear outcomes, or even as a tool for well-established multi-million dollar companies or high-level entrepreneurs hoping to build their reputations.
However, this could not be further from the truth. Not only is good PR an excellent a way of announcing new products, partnerships, and company launches, but it also has some rather unexpected benefits for startups. In this article, I will outline three less obvious reasons why every startup should have a PR strategy.
1. PR is a Shortcut to Trustworthiness
As a startup founder, you need to build your reputation, and quickly. Really, it’s not what you say about yourself, but it’s what others say about you that counts – and that’s PR could be the ideal vehicle for you. When a journalist or commentator writes about your product, your company, or your mission in a positive light, it immediately establishes credibility for the reader.
According to a Nielsen study on how consumers viewed different kinds of content, expert material was more effective than company generated content or even user reviews. Expert content was defined as “reviews and articles selected from third-party websites and blogs dedicated to the relevant product category,” and this falls under the umbrella of public relations. Readers were 50% more likely to feel affinity towards a product if they had read expert content over branded content, and expert content was 88% more effective in generating familiarity with a product than marketing content.
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If your press release is newsworthy enough to be picked up and written about by a journalist, or you write a thoughtful and non-promotional article about topic that adds value to your industry, readers will pay far more attention than they would to a full-page advert or Facebook sponsored post.
2. Public Relations Boosts your SEO
According to Search Engine Watch, up to 64% of all website hits come from organic search. By adding a quality SEO press release to newswire services, like PRnewswire, you can improve your pagerank — even more so when your release is syndicated to several news search engines.
When you do this, aim to include one or two highly ranked keywords — repeat them in the title, subheader and body text of the press release. Links to your website should also use the keywords, rather than generic text like “find out more.” You should also share a link to the release on your company blog and on social media.
Bear in mind, however, that your content is the most important aspect; press releases should have a clear, concise message and be jargon-free, as far as possible.
And never sacrifice clarity for keywords. As with any kind of writing, your focus should be high quality and relevant content, and that will improve your pagerank more than anything.
If your release is covered by the media, you’ll find there’s a snowball effect. By raising awareness of your startup, service or product, you also improve your chances of being reviewed by bloggers and other content creators online. The more you’re tweeted, written about and shared, the more backlinks you’ll receive – and the greater the chance that you will be published again.
3. PR can Reignite Team Motivation
Staff retention is extremely important for startups, especially when you consider that it can cost up to one-fifth of a team member’s salary to replace them if they leave.
As Ed Rigsby rightly says in his blog, “when you can find a way to help your employees to be part of something bigger than them, they are more engaged and their work has a purpose beyond the daily grind.”
In the early stages of a company, it’s not hard to find this common purpose, but working at a startup is hard. As the weeks turn into months, your team can find themselves struggling to keep up momentum and stay motivated, especially when the company is going through a bad patch.
Positive media coverage not only positions your company as a real contender in the market, but it can also re-ignite a founding team’s drive by creating a buzz and serving as a reminder to your company’s original mission. This type of coverage is a validation of your team’s hard work, their performance in tough times, and an exciting nod to the future of your company.
Exposure, trust and motivation are some of the cornerstones of successful businesses — and that’s what PR gets you. Think about your company’s big plans for the future and start strategizing now. Also, begin thinking about your position as a leading voice in the marketplace. Can you add to industry debate or put forward a new perspective? It’s time to get going with a PR campaign that sets you way ahead of your competitors and brings in greater returns than you ever thought possible. Read our guide to PR in 2019 for an overview of where the industry is and what you need to do, to win media coverage.
Learn how your startup can create a valuable PR strategy after investing time, effort and resources into a new venture: