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 magic circle has 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 your 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:
I’ve been in PR since 2000, working in-house, in-agency and independently, across music, media and technology. I believe in PR as a communications channel. Done right, it’s is an incredibly powerful and cost-effective way to help a business to grow. I also love business innovation. At the start of my career, I was attracted to music as I wanted to promote new artists. Start a label, sign talent, make them famous. While I changed paths, and didn’t become the next Richard Branson, it does explain why I’m drawn to startups. These are undiscovered gems with huge potential. Startup PR brings these passions together.
But PR has a PR problem. It’s hard to measure. Results are not guaranteed. Agencies are expensive (if you want the attention of senior talent). Getting a shrinking journalist pool to pay attention to unproven brands is very hard. And the retainer model does not work when budgets and needs ebb and flow month-to-month. Freelancers are more cost-effective. But good ones are hard to find, can be hard to manage, and have different experiences, styles and skills. As independents they can only dedicate so much time to your business. That’s why there’s an emerging category - the virtual PR agency. We use freelance talent to work on projects. quality client servicing, with a freelance duty of care.
We want PPR to be the go-to virtual PR agency for startups. Our model is affordable and flexible for startups, yet attractive for the associates in the network. 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.
Matt Phillips, October 2018