Founders tend not to be PR experts. Naturally, their heads are elsewhere. In the early days of a company, they can be forgiven for being more concerned with financing, building their team and infrastructure, and rolling out products that work.
But it pays to talk to PR pros early. Somewhere down the road, after talking to PR professionals – especially ones expert in the field in which they operate – they often see too late just how they could have been helped earlier. But by then, at least a few opportunities have been missed.
Today, the most accomplished PR professionals possess the skill to craft stories and messages, leveraging knowledge of both the media landscape and the client’s industry of operation, utilizing an array of analytics to calibrate approach and maximize return on investment.
PR as perception engineering
Public relations might today be seen even as another form of engineering. It is a communications strategy that targets key sections of the public, as well as stakeholders or investors, for the delivery of honed messages in order to achieve a specific outcome. Improved analytics can also help with monitoring both the outcome and channels of input.
The goal, of course, is to develop an environment conducive to a thriving company. This might be achieved via a combination of many avenues, such as a general education effort about the company and its product, reputation, and brand building, and the promotion of the leadership team as thought leaders and experts in their industry.
Unlike most other industries, the blockchain industry is still relatively new. None of us grew up in a world with blockchain, crypto, or digital fintech. Even founders and their teams, expert in their particular niche, will likely not be expert in conveying their message.
Hence the need for PR professionals to take on the role of translating entirely new concepts, the complex and the technical, into messages that can be understood by the public and which also have the best chance of fostering the desired result.
The media needs a message
PR is not marketing. You cannot just throw money and “brute force” it. Securing the right coverage in the right press requires a savvy approach. Interfacing with the media, talking to journalists, for example, takes a certain knack.
The goal is not to act as a loud, pushy salesperson but to carefully determine and target the audience that actually wants to be found, to talk to them how they like, building trust and credibility.
The story starts with the company. The company’s core team, of course, loves their story. They’ve been living and breathing it for weeks, months, maybe years. Pumping that story out through the company website, social media and other owned media might generate some interest and hit a few marks. But PR professionals can amplify the impact every step of the way.
Once the story or message is picked, honed, and translated into the right language and tone, the strategy is developed. Established PR pros already have networks of contacts, including individual journalists and other content creators, with relationships often stretching back many years. Not everybody will open an email or answer a phone, but it’s likely many in your PR company’s network will.
They also know what that contact is looking for, how they think and speak, and how to shape the message accordingly. This means delivering the facts with clear language, not hype. This expertise results in headlines in the right places rather than dead-ends. Buzz begins, and awareness grows. Once publicity is rolling, it needs to be kept rolling. All media needs content. For example, it’s good practice to issue regular press releases, at least on a monthly basis.
Once a PR company is engaged, the company should learn to entrust them for the release of any kind of information or announcement. Making company announcements on social media without consulting your PR team wastes opportunities for potential media coverage. Any contact with the public, and other key audiences, represents a PR opportunity, so it’s wise to go through the experts first.
Both blockchain/fintech and media are highly dynamic industries. In media, the landscape is constantly shifting, while in the other, it’s constantly being formed. The message about some hot new app, protocol or project has to be deciphered and translated for a moving target in a vibrant media audience that flows between mainstream media, independent media, social media, text and multimedia, podcasters, YouTubers, influencers, and on it goes. Finding the best and most timely fits between these elements takes a high level of PR nous. A message that flies on one platform might crash and burn on another.
Questions that need to be asked might include whether your brand or product needs a serious article to be published in an esteemed industry outlet or if it would be better served by a viral TikTok video. Should your founder, or other core team members, be launched as thought leaders, sharing their vision and expertise in different channels and seen at conferences? Do you require event management for such occasions as announcements and conferences? Is it wise to compile a crisis management plan?
All of these questions, and more like them, deserve a considered answer. And these answers can change, too, over time, depending on how the media and industry landscapes develop over time. PR professionals are the navigators through such choppy waters.
Measuring PR success
With such tailored efforts, there need to be suitable ways of keeping track of effort and investment expended. Happily, the PR industry has a growing array of metrics and specific key performance indicators (KPIs), so long as objectives are clearly defined and consistently tracked.
This might include media Impressions, such as the number of times a PR message is displayed in the media, including print, online, and broadcast outlets. Social Media Engagement can likewise be quantified via likes, comments, and shares of posts. And, of course, website traffic and the number of leads generated have long been easy to measure.
Other useful parameters might include brand awareness, SEO effectiveness, sentiment analysis, and a range of others. The careful analysis of each strategic effort creates a useful feedback loop enabling comms to ride the dynamism of both industry and media trends. As well as further tailoring and improving approaches, such analytics can also demonstrate a return on investment for campaigns.
In summary, a good PR firm can provide a wide range of services not just to established companies but to early-stage ones, and late adoption can be a big mistake. A good PR team can help build the brand, reach the target audience, and drive growth. Founders may not realize the full extent of what a PR firm can do for their company until they start working with one, but by then, it’s often too late to fully capitalize on the benefits. With today’s honed and quantified approach, investing in PR is certainly not a roll of the dice. In fact, it’s a gamble not to.
Want help achieving your PR goals? Interested in Tech Times, Mashable Europe, or Startup Show and Entrepreneur podcasts? Contact Grit Daily’s content studio at email@example.com.