PR Basics: Finding your company story

There are a number of reasons why some startups get coverage, and others don’t.

For starters, startups need to show credible business momentum: ie, winning new customers, revenue milestones, founding rounds, new products, big hires etc. This is proof that others believe in your idea.

This is the right brain bit: hard proof.

But another key part is the founder’s why. Simon Sinek’s golden circle idea received reams of coverage in the business press in terms of leadership, company culture etc but it’s also instructive for PR. How does your purpose make people feel? Devoid of any right brain proof that a startup will succeed, startups need people to believe - in the vision, in the category, in your USP, in the leader.

This is the left brain bit: soft belief.

For this reason, we’ve made the ‘founder’s why’ or ‘company story’ something we write at the start. A who what why of the company on a page. It’s a good litmus test as to whether anyone will write about about your company above and beyond reporting the numbers.

I include mine for the record here:


Why (the business leader’s motivation)

I’ve been in PR since 2000, working in-house, in-agency and independently, across music, media and technology. This was a complete accident. I didn’t set out to be here. But I have come to it, and believe in PR as a practice, as it’s a powerful means to change things. Because no one is capable of changing anything on their own. To get anything meaningful done, you need other people with shared purpose. I like connecting people by finding the emotional thread that links them, in order to change things.

What (the customer problem)

Very few people who understand what PR is, will say they don’t think PR has value. But PR (as a profession) has a PR problem. It’s hard to measure. Results are not guaranteed. Its representation in popular culture is not favourable. Getting a shrinking journalist pool to pay attention to anything but the things they know is very hard. And those who have bought PR services will tell you it’s expensive (the retainer size dictates the level of service & senior-level attention you’ll get at an agency) or inconsistent (if using a consultant, as no one person can do everything themselves). And the retainer & day rate models are inefficient when budgets, needs and workflows ebb and flow month-to-month. That’s why there’s an emerging category - the virtual PR agency.

How (the businesses’ USP)

We want to create a platform that offers an agile, effective and affordable PR service for challenger brands. Our model will be affordable and flexible for startups, yet attractive for the associates in the network since it will play to their best strengths and work around their lifestyles.  A platform will standardise and streamline the process of finding, briefing and managing associates, and make the process of finding work and managing clients quicker and easier. Time & cash-poor startups can start PR earlier in their journey, and flex the service as they grow.


Matt Phillips, updated February 2019

Matt Phillips