Why Startups Should Hire a PR Agency

You’ve made the big plunge! Congrats on your incredible startup adventure. You’re probably thinking, “Now where do I go next?”

It’s no secret that starting a new business, no matter how much professional experience you have under your belt, is a challenging endeavor. And when it comes to showcasing a new company, it can be intimidating (especially when you’re trying to stay on a budget). By partnering with a PR agency, some of that weight is lifted off your shoulders, allowing you to focus more intently on running your business.

Investing in PR
Public relations is about making news happen and ultimately allowing any new business to truly shine. Not only does PR help tell your story, but it’s also all about increasing visibility and building relationships. This is key when you’re just starting off!

Although the value of adding PR to a business is huge, there are a few things that you’ll need to be able to do before hiring an agency:

  • Define your target audience
  • Determine the spokespeople you’ll offer to the media
  • Determine your budget for PR
    • It’s crucial that you budget enough to see results, and this means creating a relationship with an agency that lasts beyond a couple of months.
  • Define your competitors
  • Outline your business objectives and initiatives

New owners are often attracted to a marketing regimen that immediately results in sales. How on earth does one measure success with public relations? Public relations actually CAN (and does) drive measurable results. Website traffic directed from secured media hits, media impressions and social media engagements are just a few examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure ROI in PR. And, in sharing your story with the right outlets and the right audience, you’ll discover solid success.

Sharing Your Story
Media relations is the bread and butter of what we do at Dittoe PR. Our ability to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with the media enables us to consistently secure media coverage that builds awareness, drives engagement and influences behavior among our clients’ key audiences – all action items that are of utmost importance to any startup!

Interacting with journalists is a good reason to get all content, including your website, social channels and more, in a presentable format. It’s easy to focus internally on what your coworkers and professional connections think about your business. But interacting with journalists, and therefore getting your company’s story absorbed by your target audience, is when you’ll start to see your business thrive.

Forbes provides a helpful reminder to only create and document content that will bring value to your audience and build a lasting relationship with them. View starting a new business as a chance to do things right from the beginning.

Building a Positive Reputation
Your company is new. So you likely don’t have a plethora of reviews or testimonials to tout your amazing service or product. And no new brand can survive on self-promotion and advertising alone, making credible sources telling your story a key component of marketing for your business.

PR is an effective tool that can amp up one’s credibility with media coverage. Third-party articles, videos, reviews and more in reputable publications are items that can be listed on a website and included in other marketing materials. Honestly, this process can take some time, but in the end – you’ll have earned testimonial gold. Media coverage isn’t necessarily about gaining direct sales, but it’s about direct brand messaging and building awareness. And believe it or not, marketing and public relations are at their best when used together.

In short, marketing aims to achieve direct revenue while public relations is about sharing your company’s story through communication channels. So here’s our advice: start out strong and hit the ground running with a custom-made and results-focused PR campaign!

We’re here to help businesses succeed. If you’re interested in seeking public relations for your startup,  contact Lauryn Gray to schedule a meeting and learn more about what Dittoe PR could do for your business.

Does Your Startup Have a Story?

“Startups that are failing tend to be struggling to tell a compelling story.”

Last week, the Dittoe Public Relations team was given the opportunity to take a front row seat as hundreds of entrepreneurs, founders and creative technologists from across the country converged on Indianapolis for the city’s first startup conference, The Powder Keg.

The Powder Keg introduced something brand new to Indianapolis by creating a series of events that exemplified the spirit of entrepreneurship: sharing and leveraging the power of perspective shifting ideas so they can spread as widely and effectively as possible.

The entrepreneur community in Indianapolis (and across the Midwest) is itself an early-stage startup, but The Powder Keg proved without a shadow of a doubt that entrepreneurial energy and momentum are no longer limited to coastal tech hubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how can Indianapolis and other cities throughout the Midwest join the ranks of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston as centers of creation and innovation?

Tell better stories.

Throughout The Powder Keg, an interesting theme emerged as presenter after presenter took the stage and stressed the importance of telling your company’s story.

Nobody articulated the importance of storytelling better than Scott Case, founding CTO of Priceline and CEO of Startup America Partnership: “Startups that are failing tend to be struggling to tell a compelling story.”

In the startup world, the creation of a story can seem trivial when compared to the creation of a product or service, and the notion of storytelling can seem intimidating as it often conveys a very complicated process. As a result, startups often forgo the storytelling process so they can continue focusing on building and improving their product or service.

Now, don’t get me wrong, having a finished, easy-to-use product that delivers what it promises is critical. But a well-made product or useful service is not a story, and there is no shortage of great products and services that nobody has ever heard of.

A story is something that conveys information, ideas, emotion and context in an original and engaging manner. By itself, a startup does not provide context or convey emotion; it is merely a provider of a product, service or idea.

Sometimes, founders and entrepreneurs can be so invested in ensuring their startup’s success that they forget to consider the big picture: “What does this mean to those who aren’t invested (financially or emotionally) in our company?” “How does this new product change or improve upon something that has already been done?”

The amazing thing about early-stage startups is that every one of them has a story. And, having worked with more than a few, I can tell you that startup stories are some of the most entertaining ones you’ll ever hear.

Never underestimate the importance of just telling a good story. To make others care about your company or idea—whether you’re pitching your startup to potential investors, clients, partners and journalists, or just conversing with friends and family— you need to engage them with a story that conveys information, ideas, emotion and context.

What’s your startup’s story?

 

A big thanks to Matt Hunckler and the Verge community for hosting The Powder Keg and Startup Bowl!

Why Investing in PR Makes Sense for Startups

Some PR firms shy away from working with startups. Why? They see these young, blossoming companies as needy, inexperienced newbies lacking a proper marketing budget. But that’s not the way we see it. Working with startups brings raw energy, inspiration and fresh perspectives to the table. And that’s why Dittoe PR has had a love affair with startups that spans more than a decade.

As the director of business development for one of the country’s best high-tech PR firms, I get to meet a lot of cool startups (check out Quipol, uFlavor and Musical DNA). Now, it’s fair to say that most startups (at least the ones that I have had the pleasure of meeting) have limited budgets for marketing. My advice? Rather than trying to do everything right off the cuff, invest in one form of marketing and do it well.  Here is why I believe, that for startups, PR should be the single-line item in their marketing budget for 2012.

Creates brand awareness. PR is the quickest way to share your brand’s story with the masses. Consumers look to the media for insight on the latest and greatest.  Receiving editorial coverage on TechCrunch, Mashable, Rolling Stone, The New York Times or WIRED can catapult your brand to a whole new level.

Builds authority in search. It’s no secret that a successful PR campaign can boost your SEO. That’s why I asked our partner Douglas Karr, CEO of DK New Media, author of “Corporate Blogging for Dummies” and founder of the Marketing Tech Blog, for his thoughts on the subject.

“Much of the Internet, including what you see in search results and promoted socially is found and ranked based on authority. In search, authority is measured in backlinks from authority sites.  In social, the voice is amplified further based on the authority of the person talking about it. Since authority isn’t something that a startup has, it’s something they have to acquire. While it is possible for a startup to build authority without help, it takes months to see any gainful results. This is crucial to the health of a startup. The reason why we push a public relations strategy with all of our startup clients is because they’re able to jumpstart their authority online by actively getting in front of influencers. PR also trickles down, providing great backlinks in search results and tons of attention socially. Public relations should be a foundation for all startups. In other words, our startup clients are able to get to market faster and get greater results quicker with a PR strategy than without.”

Saves valuable time. When you’re at the helm of a startup, you’re wearing a hundred different hats.  When you’re responsible for everything from coding to customer retention strategies, chances are PR will slip to the bottom of your endless to do list.  When you hire a PR agency, you’ll have a dedicated person or team devoted to PR responsibilities.

“As any entrepreneur who has dabbled in PR knows, it’s incredibly time-consuming to research the appropriate media outlets for their startup, find the right contacts at each media outlet, develop attention-getting pitches, write press releases and follow up with writers to see coverage through,” says Lauren Sanders, partner and vice president of account services at Dittoe PR.  “With a PR agency, you’re able to take a very time-consuming role off your plate and focus on other areas of the business that need your attention.

Helps define your brand. In addition to the time factor, another great reason to hire a PR agency for your startup is to get an unbiased yet knowledgeable perspective on how to best position your startup to the press.

“As an entrepreneur, you get so close to your ‘baby’ that it can be difficult to take a step back and determine the best way to describe your startup to the media,” says Sanders.  

A PR professional is constantly communicating with a variety of media outlets, journalists and bloggers and they have a keen sense of what certain outlets and reporters respond to best and what they would find interesting about your startup.

Garners attention from investors. As you can probably tell, we’re no stranger to working with startups. We’ve had more than one client catch the eye of venture capitalists through media coverage that we have secured for them on sites like Venture Beat, Tech Crunch, WIRED.com and Mashable. After all, the best way to get noticed by top investors is to get out there and make some noise.