We’re putting together a series of posts to help you maximise brand awareness and increase the effectiveness of your equity crowdfunding campaign. Our first post covers the basics of public relations and will give you a better understanding of the key components you should consider when conducting external communications.
What is PR?
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as:
“…the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
Here at Seedrs, PR can be defined as a means of:
- Making your brand famous
- Communicating your key messages and differentiators
- Protecting your company’s reputation
To successfully execute a PR campaign you need to build a strategy that aligns everyone who works for your brand internally, so they are all working towards the same goal externally.
So where do you begin?
Ask the right questions
Do you know your target market? Who is interested in hearing about your product and who are your existing and prospective customers? What publications do they read, what common interests do they have outside of your business, who do they admire and what websites do they visit?
By answering these questions you can establish your target media outlets. Choose a top 12 so approaching them doesn’t become an overwhelming task, and don’t just go for the big players; local and relevant trade press have large circulations too and can be a more engaged audience.
Build your narrative
Once you’ve established answers to these questions you need to build your story. Make it compelling and directed to your audience established by the questions above.
Don’t just list a load of facts about your company. Try to align your company news with relevant industry trends or something topical that the press are interested in, develop insightful thought-leadership driven by data and case studies and if you’re a founder with an inspiring backstory, share it. If in doubt, ask the people around you what they find interesting about the brand or your company spokespeople.
If you are issuing a press release, it needs to be newsworthy, so include an announcement, new information/trend, growth figures, a quote/interview and call to action. You might also want to consider whether your story might be better received as an exclusive with a particular publication – is there a newspaper or magazine that might help you land a well-messaged piece that reaches your end consumer rather than a number of smaller pieces in less targeted titles?
Communicate your brand
Building a narrative is great, but it won’t do much good if people are still unaware of who you are and what you do. It’s important to get across your USPs and how they benefit your target market, helping you stand out from the competition. Your key selling point needs to be interesting and engaging as well fulfilling your overarching communication goals. Ask yourself, “how does this story tie back to my product / service and will it encourage the audience to want to learn more about my brand.”
Another important aspect of PR is protecting your brand from negative attention. The key to effective crisis management is preparation. Try the best you can to predict potential issues before they materialise, and have an action plan and reactive commentary in place so you’re not just fighting fires with rushed responses that will ultimately impact the company negatively in the long-term.
Be aware of what issues are arising within your sector more broadly, and if they could affect perception of the industry your brand sits under be ready to react. Could one of your competitors be facing scrutiny that could splash onto you? Find a way to position yourself as the better option in the market and disassociate yourself with the negativity.
How can you engage in PR?
PR can be accomplished in many different ways. Generating press coverage is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking about PR. There are many ways to achieve column inches such as pitching your idea via email or social channels to pique journalists interest in featuring your brand.
However, you can also communicate your key messages in a number of other ways:
- Influencer ambassadorships: matching a relevant influencer with your brand to build appeal. This can include getting them to use your product and talk about it
- Partnerships and speaker events: associating your brand with another brand to enhance awareness
- Awards: enhance the credibility of your brand by entering (and winning) awards
- Stunts: require meticulous planning as a very creative activity to drive awareness amongst your target audience (tipping off the press to your stunts can sometimes be beneficial for maximum coverage and be sure to think about managing social media during and after the stunt)
- Sampling: bring your product or service to your target demographic so they can try it out. This is especially applicable to a crowdfunding campaign where your potential investors might want to try out what they’re investing in
Whether you’re launching a crowdfunding campaign or simply looking to raise awareness of your brand, these tips and takeaways might help:
- Who is the target customer?
- How do you want to speak to them?
- What publications suit your brand and target audience?
- What tone of voice does your brand need?
- What key messages do you want to communicate to your audience?
- What potential issues could arise?
- How can you make your brand famous?
This post has only begun to cover the basics of PR for your startup – covering every little aspect of how to do great PR would be enough content to warrant writing a book! We want to help businesses spread their message, so we have put together a series of monthly workshops called “Disruptive Startups Hijack UK News Agenda”.
At these events, we share key tips to maximising awareness of your startup with a special guest appearance from a different leading national media outlet who will share their first-hand advice on successful press engagement. Startup founders and CEOs were invited to sign up for our last workshop featuring special guest Laura Onita from the Sunday Times. Our November workshop will be announced shortly with another very special guest.