“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” —Bill Gates
Every year, millions of startups are launched across the world, each with its own unique selling point, each with a new solution. We hear about some of them, but some we never find out about. These startups use all the latest technology, understand the basic business principles and spend months, if not years, perfecting their services or product.
Many of these businesses show early-stage promise. They have customers, their technology works or their service is being bought. Where they lack or get stuck is scaling that initial success and interest from their target audience. Translating that potential into a successful and established business is where most entrepreneurs struggle.
This is where PR comes into play, and every entrepreneur should invest in it. Here’s why.
Related: 10 Ways to Get Global PR Exposure
1. Build confidence in your brand
For entrepreneurs, it is important to understand what the target audience reads, what it watches and which digital platforms it uses. It is also crucial to understand where consumers get their information.
For example, if you’re a business that targets entrepreneurs, you know that most aspiring entrepreneurs read publications such as Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., and Business.com.
If you own a restaurant, you want to make sure your restaurant is listed on platforms such as Yelp (and has positive reviews), because that’s where people go to assess whether a restaurant is worth going to. Two aspects of PR come into play here: thought leadership and profile listing.
With thought leadership, you can build your own persona and following as an entrepreneur. This gives you an edge when you talk to potential clients who are choosing between you and one of your competitors. Potential clients look at your brand on the internet, and when they do, they should be able to see you as an entrepreneur and your brand listed on reputable platforms.
This creates the perception that you are trustworthy, an industry leader and an expert. This gives you a competitive edge, increases your conversion potential, and boosts your revenue, active user count and the number of clients you have.
With profile listing, it’s essentially the same, except instead of positioning yourself as the entrepreneur on an entrepreneurial platform, you directly position your business on a more business-oriented platform. At the end of the day, the benefits are the same.
2. Establish yourself as an industry leader
PR isn’t just about writing fancy articles. As an entrepreneur, one of the best things you can do is to leverage opportunities to become a guest on a podcast or get interviewed by a reputable network or organization.
Here, you first have to identify the mediums your audience is most active on. As the co-founder of an app-development company, I am always looking to leverage opportunities to appear as a guest on podcasts that most aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners listen to (for example, Mixergy).
Similarly, someone who owns a design or an animation studio would leverage platforms such as 99designs or Design Rush. This tells your target audience that the platforms they consider trustworthy consider you trustworthy, establishing your business and brand as an industry leader.
3. Become a part of the conversation
If you look toward the more retail, digital products, or ecommerce side of the world, you will see another trend.
If your product has good quality and you’re an industry leader, you’re more likely to be part of conversations between friends and family. When a few people in the circle of a potential customer talk positively about your brand, there’s pressure on that potential customer to join in on the conversation, be it about one of Nike’s most famous football shoes series, the Hypervenom, or about the new collection that H&M recently launched.
If your brand is part of conversations, your target audience is psychology pressured to engage with you simply because all of their friends and family are doing the same. Facebook wasn’t always the tech giant it is today; neither was its tech as exquisite as it is today. Yet, because some people were on Facebook, and Facebook was able to create a digital lifestyle unlike any other platform, two people using Facebook meant that their friends felt that they were missing out on that lifestyle or experience.
Thus they joined Facebook, then their friends joined Facebook, and then theirs joined Facebook. This is a cycle that PR helps to create.
Another example is Apple. Apple’s PR team has successfully created the narrative that the Apple experience is like none other. That’s why everywhere you see, Apple products are seen as the standard and their experience as unique.
This is because Apple’s communication in establishing itself as the ultimate benchmark matched their incredible technology. Their identity and positioning became viral and their users reverberated and validated their claim of producing superior consumer tech, helping the company scale rapidly from its initial potential.
4. Create a narrative
Your communication and PR activities aren’t a substitute for great tech, products or services, but they are essential for you to transform from a great company to the benchmark in the industry. Your product quality can convince people to engage with you, but it is your PR that compels them to become ambassadors for your brand.
Once you invest in your communication and PR, you are able to convince people that their positive opinion of your brand isn’t just an opinion, it is a fact.
Once people within your target audience understand what makes you the best and are willing to spread the narrative, you can successfully take that initial potential and use it to scale rapidly within your niche.