Starting a tech company can be exciting especially when one looks at the impact the big brands in the industry are making on the global economy. In an era of full digitization, we are all pretty much certain that the future will be largely driven by technology.
However, many techpreneurs, out of excitement about the future, are jumping ahead of themselves to dream of the giant companies that can emerge from these “humble beginnings” without thinking about certain basic aspects of business.
Very often, after putting together the product or service, many do not stop to ask how they can identify and forge a mutually beneficial relationship with all the important stakeholders who matter for the survival of the startup.
They do not stop to ask themselves a question which is very fundamental to the growth of the startup: do I need a Public Relations plan?
Well, I will be sharing some insights with you on this platform as a Public Relations Lecturer and Consultant.
The truth is that, many tech startups perceive Public Relations as a function they do not need since they have social media tools at their fingertips. This perception stems from the fact that many people believe PR is just to hype/publicize a brand but this could not be farther from the truth. Yes PR generates publicity for brands however its main aim is to build mutually beneficial relationships between you and your publics. And this is not only about presenting your products or services to potential customers online through active social media engagement, but a strategic process that helps you to engage all the various groups concerned with your company’s past, present and future.
PR helps to tell your organization’s story to help you garner a reputation that makes them look at your organization favorably and do business with you. Therefore, instead of simply updating your social media pages with the usual information on product/service, you must ask yourself what the differentia is for you and your brand and by which other means can you engage all these stakeholders and gain leverage over competitors.
Startups with great products their customers love can benefit from public relations in more ways than one. Aside from the obvious benefit of publicity, entrepreneurs gain credibility. PR can help startups build relationships early on even before they actually need them. There is incredible value in viewing the daily public relations of your startup as a two-way street- where you and your publics seek mutual benefit.
Startups begin with a clean slate and have no brand awareness. Therefore, a Techpreneur’s goal for generating PR will often focus on one or more of the following startup-specific objectives:
- Educating the public about a new product, service or idea
- Raising funds to build or grow the business
- Generating trials of its products or services
- Acquiring new customers
- Attracting top talent
- Staking out its place amongst the competition
Strategic and well-thought out PR can take your business from a local startup to gradually getting on the list of preferred vendors or becoming a recognized brand. PR ensures that your startup is consistently “in the conversation.” This enables you to catch the eye of investors, businesses, potential staff and customers.
PR will also help you build a reputation which will in turn boost your brand and enable you offer premium service to your clients at a premium price. This can be done through community relations and corporate social responsibility activities that shore up your reputation within the community.
Public relations can also help with the very well-known media relations activities for your start up. This involves making sure that relevant media houses and journalists attend your event and report on it. This gives your start up publicity and educates the audiences of the media houses on what you do. This publicity is different from paid adverts and are seen by audiences as more credible.
In 2017, tech companies such as Uber and even venture capital firms that support tech start ups were in the news for all the wrong reasons- sexual harassment. These negative news reports about companies can result in reputational damage leading to crisis. PR can help your start up avoid (as much as possible) crisis through issues management and in the unlikely event of a crisis, provide expert support to take your start up through crisis.
The difference between the value that customers place on two start-ups doing the same thing is often in how both of these companies communicate. You may have the ideas, expertise and a perfect tech solution but if you do not engage and build brand awareness through strategic Public Relations, others who are just doing average but understand and implement good PR plans will help you beat the competition.
~ Paulina Kuranchie, PR Lecturer & Consultant