I was recently asked by a reporter at my local daily, the Austin American Statesman to provide some PR tips for entrepreneurs. There are so many great PR professionals in Austin; I was flattered they asked me and was of course happy to oblige.
As with many of the best opportunities, this one required a very quick turn around. Happily, it was an easy request to fulfill. I work primarily with entrepreneurs and I have been giving an Austin Rise session, “PR for Small Business” (aka Business Aligned Communications) the last couple years.
In general, for entrepreneurs still working out proof of concept, I don’t recommend working with a PR agency or consultant just yet. Unless you have a proven track record of substantial success in a specific industry, media, analysts and customers are not going to care. Remember PR is a strategic asset for engaging with your external audiences. Make sure you are ready. If you are manufacturing goods, then have a prototype and some interested customers/partner retailers. If technology, such as a new app or software tool, have one or two satisfied beta customers that are willing to endorse your service or product. Wait until you have something real to share.
Following are the tips, with expanded detail, from the version that I provided to the Statesman. I have 4 Simple Truths that I try to always follow. These also come in handy for you as you build your business.
1. Be real
2. Keep it simple
3. Focus is your friend
4. Let the story unfold
Ok, you have your product or service ready to go. Before you begin, focus internally and be able to answer the following (while keeping the 4 Simple Truths in check):
1. Who are you?
2. What makes you special?
3. Why should anyone care?
You have done your work and now it’s time to get started. Armed with your “what makes you special” story, you’re ready to start testing your message. Begin by asking people in your network to listen to it, to read it, to watch it, and to have them tell you what they think. This is called “bulletproofing with friendlies.” Don’t get sidetracked by every comment or suggestion, but listen to the feedback to ensure that your story is compelling and that it makes sense beyond your internal team. Then prioritize. You can’t do it all – pick your battles. What can we do now, what can we do later, and what can we let go. Be consistent across all touch points. The look, the feel and the messaging should be the same. Tailor it to the medium. Consistency of messaging creates awareness.
Unless you have cured cancer, it will take multiple layers of exposure for your story to be remembered. There is no one hit wonder in PR. It takes ongoing, consistent effort to win true, meaningful mindshare and to build measurable awareness that counts. Good luck!