PR for Startups: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Adopting a PR Strategy that’s not a good fit for your company.

Startups often have so much to worry about that developing a suitable marketing strategy might not seem like a top priority. Some businesses will even resort to emulating another company’s PR efforts, hoping to garner some success from a method that’s already been proven. It might make sense at first but here’s why it doesn’t: unfortunately, marketing objectives are not one-size-fits-all.

A brand new startup can’t hope to copy Amazon or Walmart’s marketing strategy and expect even remotely similar results; it just doesn’t work that way. Startups face unique challenges that require a different approach. One that’s more suited for the environment in which the business occupies. But that’s not to say a startup can’t take inspiration from a bigger company’s methods.

Startups have a very specific set of challenges unique to their situation, and must tailor their marketing objectives to meet those challenges.

Here are just some of a few common issues that startups have identified:

  1. Getting the word out – One of the biggest hurdles unique to startups is getting the public to know your business exists. Established, gargantuan brands such as Apple and Samsung don’t have to worry about word of mouth to increase their brand awareness, but it’s something a newer business should definitely be taking advantage of. Old-fashioned, organic PR, like having the support of your community and local chamber of commerce never goes out of style, and is a great way of getting some street cred to build a name for your business. If you are confident in the product or service your business provides, getting the locals to talk about it and build the buzz for you should be a no-brainer.
  2. Too many marketing options – It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of starting a new business. It’s important to remember that startups have a unique set of marketing objectives that need to be addressed, and it can be tempting to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Your time, as well as your team’s time is precious, especially at this stage in the game—so it’s critical to develop a marketing plan that’s manageable, clear and fitting for your business. For example, social media is often touted as the next frontier in marketing, but that doesn’t make it the best solution for every situation. If you’ve just opened up a new bakery for example, it probably seems like a good idea to develop a Facebook or Snapchat presence to show off new creations and events happening around the business. But if you’re a data or software startup whose target audience doesn’t readily consume content visually, having a strategy based around Pinterest or Instagram might not be the best use of your time. You’ve got to first hone in on who your target audience is, then identify and develop the appropriate channels once you’ve got that data.
  3. Staying focused – A successful PR strategy doesn’t mean checking all the boxes or hopping every new trend and collaboration that comes along. Again, this goes back to adopting a strategy that is centered around your target audience. Sometimes having the discipline to stay the course is the best move you can make. It can be extremely tempting, especially from the point of view of a startup owner, to jump on every opportunity that comes with the promise of saving you time and money. Take a closer look at these opportunities and determine if they align with the plans and goals you’ve set for yourself and your business. Never settle. It’s not like you started a business because you thought it was going to be easy, right? Constant detours in the name of short-term gains can lead to unintended consequences, and is a great way of losing sight of what’s important.

Missing Opportunities to Engage/Educate the Public

We’ve already gone over how utilizing the right social channel is important for zeroing in who your target audience is. So let’s say you’ve developed an online presence on the appropriate social media channels and are on your way to fine-tuning the process.

A costly mistake that many businesses will make is treating these channels like a one-way street. Let’s go over what that entails: there are many out there that aren’t well-versed in the subtle nuances of social media marketing, who believe that it’s the business’s job to produce content, and it’s the audience’s job to interact with said content. Wrong.

The true strength of social media lies in its intrinsic ability to facilitate the exchange of news and ideas in real-time.

You’ve seen it before: Businesses with Facebook or Instagram pages where potential customers are commenting, asking questions, and the business is silent. There are no replies to people’s concerns. Is anyone even running the page? Is the company still in business?

This becomes a waste of opportunity. Engaging with customers on social media is a critical key. You have the ability to answer any questions people may have. Let them know straight from the source.

Answering one person’s question publicly on social media more often than not, means you’ve assuaged the doubts of every other person that sees that question with similar concerns.

Remember, organic engagement is good as gold in the social media world, and it’s important to treat it as such. Engaging in a friendly, meaningful manner with your audience is one of the most fruitful, cost-effective actions you can take.

Even a simple ‘thanks for checking us out’ reminds people of the human element within the business. In today’s world, where AI is analyzing your spending habits, determining your future shopping trends, reminding people there’s a human aspect to your business is an underrated facet in marketing. Engaging on social media and a cheap and effective way to remind people of the human aspect behind your business. It shows that you are part of the community and that there are a team of individuals behind your business.

Not Enough Content Creation

One of the best ways to build some brand awareness is by being in the spotlight, and staying in the spotlight. Many businesses do this, figuratively, by continuously feeding the ‘media pipeline’ with content.

Without discipline or a clear direction, it’s very easy to give into complacency. You adopt a “set & forget it” mentality when it comes to putting out content.

Plan events in advance through an editorial calendar.

Whether it be social media or blog posts, press releases, product launches, etc. you can go ahead and set it up. Be consistent and provide various forms of content. Be aware of your time in the spotlight. Take advantage of reeling in new customers. You never know who you will interact with. But, do not forget your loyal customers who have been around since day 1. Show appreciation to all, old and new. Planning events or giveaways to showcase customer appreciation is a great fill-in in your editorial calendar.

Ever looked up a company because you kept seeing articles or posts about it whilst going about your daily business? It’s that same principle you want to take advantage of.

By positioning your business at the forefront of the public’s mind through a consistent cadence of high-quality content, you’re planting the seed for future successes. The more buzz you generate, the more people will want to engage; given enough buzz, people will outright look for reasons to do business with you.

Antonio Casal is a marketing specialist at Newswire. A U.S Army veteran who is an avid learner and self-proclaimed tech junkie.

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