There are few things more hip than a tech startup. From the long nights listening to whatever soundtrack is cool right now (TRON, Social Network) and the relative insulation of too many online-only communities, too many startups pay little attention to public relations.
The reasons are many. It could be a budget issue. It could be an arrogance issue. It could be simple oversight. But as companies grow from inception to market and then (hopefully) profitability, the image your company projects becomes extremely important. While it may seem fashionable to ignore PR in favor of marketing you and your employees using social media and word of mouth marketing, that’s not a long-term solution.
PR shouldn’t be haphazard, it shouldn’t be unplanned and it certainly shouldn’t be done by those who lack any sort of charm or people skills. Here are our top reason why your company should care about PR:
1. You need more customers
It would be great if we only had to sell to our friends and people we already know, but unless you’re already swimming in loot, this won’t work. A good PR plan reaches potential customers who don’t already know you or your product.
2. You need to be proactive
While fantastic customer support is a great way to solve problems after they happen, a good PR plan can prevent them. If you’re making changes to your services, rolling out a new product or just want to talk features, making sure your existing customer base knows about them before anything is changed is a great idea.
3. You need to know your customers
Traditional PR may have been press releases and phone calls to reporters, but any good PR plan now includes communicating like an actual person would with real people who give you money in exchange for your product/service. Make time to check with people, even if they haven’t made any complaints.
4. You need to have personal point of contact
Ever filled out one of those generic contact us forms on a website? Felt pretty crappy to be treated so impersonally, didn’t it? How often did your question get answered? (yes, yes, very seldom). It would be tons easier to be able to actually email someone with feedback. At least that one person can direct your inquiry to the right place.
5. You’re going to get attention
Programmers program. Developers develop. Salesman sell. Coders code. Designers design. Writers write. So if/when your business starts to attract attention that can help your bottom line, who is going to take time off some mission critical task to deal with it? Certainly not the guys who work all night and sleep all day and probably not the founder, who’s likely busy fixing errors in code. Find a friend or agency with some charm and let them help out.
6. You want your best foot forward
It was painful to see Mark Zuckerberg sweat through his hoodie a few months back. While Facebook certainly has the staff to accommodate his absence, wouldn’t you feel a little more comfortable knowing your company representative won’t go on stage looking like he just go back from a workout?
7. You want a pretty face
Regardless of who it is, a company representative who dresses appropriately, speaks well and knows how to charm a room goes a long way in selling your product/service. Remember, people usually buy your reasoning, not your product, so why not put your most eloquent, best dressed and snazziest dancer on display?
Anything we missed?