The art of learning to give something of value to the target audience.
“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on Public Relations.”
Public Relations for startups is not only a way to massively increase awareness and credibility but the main idea is to spread information through word of mouth. This is a way to help you reach and win over potential customers. While PR eventually leads to monetary growth and increased sales, the process can sometimes be long and time taking. To help businesses grow and get the exposure they need, Headstart conducted an event on “Demystifying PR for startups”. We had the honor of hosting Mr. Abhishek Bajaj, the marketing head at ITILITE.
Abhishek has worked with various technology startups to accelerate growth across different markets. He is also the co-author of a popular book, “Value SAAS basecamp guide.” Apart from this, he has been a startup marketing and a storyteller for over a decade. His knowledge and expertise of PR through the immense experience in the industry turned out to be a perfect start to a Saturday!
The workshop started with some basic fundamental questions on when to start PR, how to execute it, and how to create a full-proof PR plan. It is essential to create a working PR plan that will help you grow visibility and attract people to the benefits that your business offers.
Mr. Abhishek thought that it was best for everyone in the audience to open their excel sheet and come up with a rough PR plan for their business as the session moved forward. This made the workshop extremely interactive and insightful.
Why we need a PR strategy is a question we need to have clarity on before proceeding with a detailed plan. While reasons for its importance may differ from company to company, there are a few factors that are common. Here are a few fundamental reasons for wanting to build a PR strategy – recruitment, brand awareness, lead generation, and attracting investors.
The media is a vast topic to talk about and there is a need for all of us budding entrepreneurs to understand how it has evolved over the last few decades. The journalists have now become smart and savvy, making sure that nothing is off the record for them. Once we understand that our story needs to be exciting for not just the market but the journalists as well, we have learned the key to PR. Broadly, here is what the media cares about – Urgency, Validation, Appeal, Headline, and Audience Connect.
Urgency makes us ask – Why now? The media will never publish your story until the time they are not completely convinced that this is the right time to do so. Journalists have numerous stories to cover and you need to make sure that your story has the right hook to attract them.
Validation is a must. You need to clarify who you are and how established your business is. Every person in the media will find reasons as to what makes you interesting and if they should actually be spending time talking to you. You need to come up with a story that makes their time worthwhile.
You cannot pitch your story to everyone and anyone, be sure that the media person you choose is an expert in the industry you work in. Headlines seem to form the first impression of your story, make sure it is catchy and attractive. They can also get you negative publicity; your story may be great but negative publicity can ruin it all.
Audience connect determines where your traffic comes from and who the target audience is. Do a detailed analysis of the group you want to target. Filter your client base and do thorough research on demographics.
Proceeding further, Abhishek helps the audience fill in their excel sheets by providing them with a step to step guide on how to develop a strategy –
Invest your time and effort in building a pipeline and a rhythm to get a multiplier effect. Your need from PR may keep changing from time to time but there are a few elements in which our expectations out of our PR strategy can be categorized into –
- Business Milestones
- Customer Success
- Domain Expertise
- Thought Leadership
Your narrative can keep changing depending on who is listening and who you are targeting. A pro tip is to not have parallel conversations with various journalists in the same industry and to always pitch new ideas. The same stories may result in your business losing the exclusivity element. Always target 3-4 publications; the more the merrier!
“Let your product do the talking.” Paid PR is not something Abhishek supports. He feels that no one is going to write or publish a story that they don’t themselves believe in. While organic PR shows that you have a good story to tell, paid PR is of no value.
Public Relations agencies are just an outsourcing function and you should not rush into getting one for your business. At the end of the day, they can only modify what you can give them and can not create ahead.
Abhishek ends the session by sharing a few words of wisdom. He believes that it is important to do your homework. When the news is going out, it is important that it reaches the right people. For this, you need to be focussed and not dilute information. What makes all the difference is you narrating the story in a way that excites not only the media but the target audience as well. Here are a few key takeaways from the session –
- Do not just be limited to conventional.
- Be relevant; be ahead of the news cycle.
- Do not depend on becoming an overnight success.
- Be unbiased in storytelling.
Finally, Abhishek urges us to start as early as possible. Starting early has extra benefits since the people already know you and want more information on how your business is doing.
The workshop turned out to be extremely helpful not only in terms of quality information but also on how the audience was motivated to begin their very own PR journey that very minute!
A volunteer at Headstart