For Startups an Investment in PR Can Really Pay Off

Posted by Kate Jurras on Wed, Jun 27, 2012

TM 2 resized 600This post is part of our June series on start-ups. We reached out to some of our favorite local start-uppers to find out how they're innovative. This post is by Michelle Goodwin and Taryn Westerkamp, PR & Social Media Account Executives at AMP Agency, showcase their love of PR through the creation of exciting and noteworthy campaigns for their clients.

When staring down a long list of expenses it is not uncommon that a public relations spend falls in at the bottom. While probably viewed as a flagrant expense to many working on a lean budget, investing either time or money in building a strong public relations strategy can be crucial to helping companies increase brand awareness, launch new products or build a stand-out reputation in a saturated market.

Companies across all industries have seen even small investments in public relations pay off in big ways. From consumer goods to B2B services, strategic public relations initiatives have resulted in transforming brands into household names, beating annual sales goals early in the fiscal year and igniting a core group of influential consumers and media contacts as brand evangelists. Some companies have achieved these goals by investing in experts while others have started small, committing their own time to building the relationships needed to make a big splash in the media and online.

If you are working on a shoestring, get started with some of these free or low-cost options.

  1. Use Social Media to Help Spread the Word – Do some research to find which communities best reach your target audience. It could be a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn, or maybe Pinterest and Twitter. Build your communities, interact with consumers and even use your communities to form connections with reporters and writers.
  2. Focus Your Efforts Close to Home – Create some buzz in your area by reaching out to local media outlets that reach your target and cover your industry or product category. It may not always be apparent, but larger news outlets pay attention to regional chatter and could potentially cover your story with contacting you. Above all, remember the emphasis of your outreach should be on creating a relationship with the media, not selling your business or product.

So you have had some success working with the tools available to you, but when is it time to call in the big guns?

  1. Crisis or Reputation Management – If efforts to generate media coverage for your product have paid off and you are now getting some extra attention from regulators or a few bugs have caused a social media uproar, it might be time to call in the experts. Public relations professionals can navigate rough waters, position your company and develop key strategic documents like official statements, press releases and community responses to get you through a crisis situation intact.
  2. You are Ready to Go National (or Global) – When it is time to expand into new regions or reach new targets, the planning process and execution can be intimidating for a newer startup. Bringing in a public relations agency or building a seasoned public relations team can help with strategy, timeline and messaging development in addition to execution. By leveraging strong media relationships, public relations professionals can dedicate themselves to generating the best coverage for your brand.

As you consider your objectives for the rest of the year, think about how public relations could help you achieve those goals. And, take a closer look at your budget to see where you can afford even a small investment that could result in a big payoff.