Yes, you have sung these lyrics by Chesney Hawks before, admit it. If you haven’t, don’t worry there is more to this post than a timeless 90’s classic. The topic of PR is one that must be on any entrepreneur’s mind. We have to make sure that as many people out there know about our product/service/company and we have to make this happen as cheaply as possible. PR is the answer. It’s cheap and its power immense. But the question is how the hell do we do it?! More to the point what exactly are we ‘PRing’?
There is an adage that when a CEO is appointed the first person he or she appoints is a decent PR bod to smooth the way, ensure effective damage limitation and that there is a good public story while the hard graft goes on behind the scenes. There is many a start-up that will rush to appoint an agency (more to come on that soon) or a PR bod to spread the word or to build the profile of the CEO/founder. I have heard many an expert tell me that for a start-up to be successful the PR has to be great, even better than early revenues or a killer product. Get your company mentioned in Mashable, TechCrunch and VentureBeat and it’s job done.
But how?? That’s the tricky bit. You love your business, in fact, you live for it let’s face it, that is why you are an entrepreneur. Chances are everyone you know will have heard the elevator pitch, even if you are nowhere near a lift. But to get PR your story needs to be different and relevant to the audience you want to speak to. What if you are a whizz in developing a product, devising the strategy but don’t really class yourself as a celebrity entrepreneur – then what?
PR agency or freelancer?
Think carefully. You might have to call for reinforcements either an agency or a freelancer (I do this), and they can then get the results you need. But proceed with care. Think about payment for results, how you will use the coverage they generate. Exactly who do you want to speak to, and what publications/titles/sites do you want to appear in/on. It’s all about the targets.
I worked with an accelerator, and the PR brief was brilliantly simple – we want to appear in AdAge, Marketing Week, Mashable and TechCrunch – great, but the content HAD to be there, and that is not always easy to generate. I worked with a social media start-up that was paying a PR agency a heft whack and let’s say my opening meeting with them as the part-time CMO was cordial, I stopped short of using the hairdryer, but you get my drift.
One final point, you might not think of your story as interesting but the fact that you have the guts to be an entrepreneur is, without bragging, an inspiration to others who might want to follow your path or respect you for doing so. If you have any friends who are journalists talk to them about what you are up to. You never know where it will lead.