PUBLISHED ON JUN 03, 2020
3 PR Opportunities Scaling Companies Cannot Overlook
Effectively marketing a startup is plenty challenging—often involving a bootstrap approach, the right influencers, creative genius, and a little bit of luck. But growing startups also enjoy PR opportunities unique to their position.
Startups are the popular crew of the business world. They’re the out-of-the-box thinkers that challenge the establishment to be better. Mark Zuckerberg in his uniform of jeans and a hoodie, Sergei Brin and Larry Page bouncing around the halls of Google, and even Adam Neumann’s controversial management antics were intriguing to the outside world.
Customers, investors, and potential enterprise partners are interested in what the newest folks on the business scene have to say. And that interest translates into valuable PR opportunities.
Here are three specific PR opportunities scaling companies cannot afford to overlook:
Positioned correctly, startups can join their larger partners like Google, Mastercard, or Salesforce in the headline. While the more established brand lends credibility and market strength, the startup plays a vital role as the agile problem-solver that keeps its new partner relevant.
I.am+, a tech company for responsible AI that was founded by will.i.am, and IBM announced earlier this year that they are working together to provide secure AI solutions that value consumer privacy. The announcement is positioned as a collaboration—an interesting angle of a scrappy startup joining a tech giant to tackle a common problem, data insecurity. In reality, i.am+ has chosen IBM as it’s cloud platform vendor—not exactly a media hook. But clever messaging turns this business deal into a story.
Who a startup partners with says a lot about their market position, vision, and values. And stakeholders are interested to know more.
Tell Stories that Illustrate Your Brand
Companies rely on a human connection to survive and grow. Never has that been more true than right now with everyone is working remote. This is the heart of branding—connecting with customers, partners, and funders on an emotional level that goes deeper than a spec sheet, dev op plans, or valuation. And there is no better way to foster an emotional connection than through storytelling.
SoundCloud uses its First On SoundCloud series to spotlight rising artists who got their start on the platform. The artists tell the personal stories behind their music, with SoundCloud as the common theme in all of their successes.
Large brands can provide inspiration, too. Microsoft uses stories to illustrate, not the inner workings of their technology, but their products at work for what they really stand for—building connections. Whether it’s the use of Minecraft to develop communities across the globe or Syrian refugees using technology to enhance their language skills, these stories personify Microsoft in a way that a marketing brochure or press release never could.
And startups that are scaling have a unique advantage when it comes to storytelling: new hires represent an opportunity to reinforce the overarching brand story while leveraging the new addition’s professional clout. Look how Glossier attracted media attention with the announcement that former Amazon VP Melissa Eamer was the brand’s next COO. Rather than focusing on the details of the business, Eamer shares her motivation for joining Glossier. “When I connected with Emily, I was immediately struck by the Glossier customer obsession,” she told CNN.
Share The Inside Scoop
Startups by definition are dynamic. From new investments, to adding staff, exploring organizational philosophies, adjusting pricing models and so much more, there is constant change. And startups are perfectly positioned to share their real-time experiences with the challenges and opportunities they encounter.
For example, Buffer founder Joel Gascoigne hosts a blog where he offers an inside look at how the social media company approaches leadership retreats, a lean organizational style, and even their strategy on the shift from startup to scaling. Insight into the leader behind the company is valuable, too. Founders are industry insiders with interesting perspectives to share on why and how their company came to be. They’re also unique people who are taking risks and following their passions.
Cindi Mi of VIPKid didn’t stumble into the world of online language instruction. As a child, she dropped out of high school following a terrible experience with a math teacher and used her own money to purchase English language lessons for herself. Mi’s background, and her openness in sharing it, provides a much wider context for her vision to expand access to language instruction.
Payal Kadakia also shares freely about what in her private life has influenced or challenged the success of her fitness membership app ClassPass. She speaks about growing her company while pregnant, her upbringing as a daughter of Indian immigrants, and her education at MIT. The brilliant CEO is a walking endorsement for her billion-dollar brand.
Insider stories welcome your audience to join you in your passion and vision. By sharing some insight into who you are and how you work, you’re introducing a human element—a person and team to root for.
What To Do Now to Pitch Your Business Later
1) Throw out your messaging from two months ago. Heck, from two weeks ago. It doesn’t matter. Refresh your story and your marketing with why your business is relevant to customers right now without reaching too hard and trying to make your product a quarantine essential. The media wants data-driven commentary and point of view on your market. Good read: Pitching Through the Pandemic
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