February 8, 2017 “How communication adds value to startups in their entrepreneurial journey” by Piyal Banerjee, Business Leader- B2C- Telecom & Technology and Business Leader- Step Up. “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!” – Bill Gates A startup is the brain-child of a visionary at heart and an entrepreneur in mind. It is built from the ground up with immense amount of passion and belief. In the face of a highly competent and cluttered market, shining out seems like a herculean task. This is where communication steps in and creates a pathway for awareness, recall and trust. With the birth of a new idea, a new business model emerges and it is important to understand how communication can fundamentally affect the success of a startup. As John D Rockefeller says, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.” To avoid remaining unknown and unrecognised, a startup should invest in a proper communication strategy, as it creates the image, controls the reputation and helps in brand building. PR provides the correct platforms to tell your story During the initial phase of a startup, a good PR strategy can be really beneficial. It can provide the opportunity to connect with the target audience through the help of the media. PR can help in mapping the right opportunities that would help the startup achieve its goals. An effective PR strategy is essential for a startup given that often it could get lost in the chaos of the very busy Indian startup ecosystem. PR has the ability to impact the company’s perception, and as a consequence, its revenue and the investor opportunities that it is looking for. Positive PR and media relations can have a remarkable effect on the acceptance of a startup along with consistent efforts and creativity. To back the communication there must be leverage in terms of quality products and adhering to promises from the company’s side. PR should be integrated into the daily routine of a startup. There must be a pro-active approach in place with short-term tactics and a long-term strategy. It will help in building a deeper relationship with the media, which is a key influencer for the people. This enhances the brand and its image, while constantly keeping the audience updated on the company’s proceedings. PR holds the consumer’s interest together with creative campaigns and ideas that maintain their engagement with the company. PR helps build credibility Being a small pawn in the mammoth business means that the consumers are most likely to be unaware of the company. Today, consumers are smart and like to stay informed. With the ease of access, they dwell into research before associating with a brand. This is where news coverage in the leading and reputed publication plays an important role in molding the decision of the consumer. It provides the much-needed credibility to the services and products, given that the company is relatively new. PR establishes the founder as a thought leader In order to achieve the status of an established and trusted company, not only do the products and services have to be excellent, but also the founders have to be established as thought leaders and knowledge experts in the field. PR makes this real by crafting opinion pieces by the founder, landing comments in business articles and targeting the correct media for the optimum results. This brings in recognition and recall in the consumers’ mind which in turn positions the founder as a thought leader. Building thought leadership is a gradual process, which brings us back to point that PR needs to be integrated into a startup’s daily routine. PR is the best platform for creative storytelling Storytelling is essential for startups as it assists in building the brand. With the ongoing digital wave, it is the responsibility of the brands to creatively and tactfully craft their key messages which when conveyed directly interests the target audience. Communication puts in a constant effort to actively tell a startup’s story. The persistent reiteration of who the company and its founders are, help in driving home this agenda. It emphasizes on the key messages that the company stands for and wants to be recognised for to its consumers. The compelling stories emotionally connect and engage the target audience that in turn builds brand loyalty. PR crafts the perfect narrative A solid message sets the foundation for any communication that follows. The key message needs to be well-crafted, clear, crisp and strong. This message is consistently put out across all forms of communication. With this repeated exposure, the narrative starts seeping into the consumers’ mind which helps them understand the company and its positioning much better. Developing a clear and concise messaging platform that resonates with the key target audience is essential to a successful startup’s identity in the marketplace. Having a message strategy puts everyone on the same page as far as understanding the startup, what its value proposition is and its story.