By Danny Stephens.
At our recent event, hosted in collaboration with Berlin’s Tech Open Air (TOA) festival, we offered our insight and experience into how to use PR to raise awareness of an organisation amongst stakeholders, particularly potential investors.
The theme: ‘Show me the value: how to attract investors using strategic PR’ was predominantly aimed at start-up owners or employees of early stage companies, very few of whom have professional PR experience beyond the usual self-promotion tricks of social media and/or chancing a meet with a journalist at a show such as TOA.
The media landscape has evolved over the past few decades, with many more media outlets as a result of the online revolution, many more stories to cover, yet far fewer actual journalists. Most critical within this upheaval is to know the function good PR serves in filling this gap for many publications and editors.
To understand how to build a good PR strategy, start-ups initially need to ask themselves the following:
1) How do we want to appear?
2) To whom do we want to appear?
3) Where do we want to appear?
4) What do we want to appear?
Each of these questions can be broken down into distinct parts themselves to help the decision-making process.
‘How we want to appear’ includes aspects of branding and culture as presented externally, but for attracting investment it is critical that the vision for the future is well-portrayed and communicated. An investor is unlikely to pay much attention to a company that is bumbling along aimlessly without a vision.
‘Where we want to appear’ is also important as different media have different readerships and different reputations. Knowing your media outlets well is important, if only to save you time and effort. You wouldn't try to place a soccer critique in Der Spiegel, for example.
‘What we want to appear’ is obviously the biggest question and the toughest to get right. You want to display your USPs, but don’t want to give away your secrets. You want to communicate your vision, but don’t want to fly the flag too high for fear of revealing your strategic hand. Balance is crucial here. But the most important aspect to communicate is your value – value measured in every way.
An investor will obviously be looking at bottom line potential, but they will also be looking at how a company will fit into their portfolio, or perhaps a specific value chain they have invested in, or perhaps a reputational value they can gain by being associated with your unique corporate culture, or maybe intellectual capital. And most of all, as well as the value you communicate now, be sure to communicate your potential for value creation – both financial and other more implicit values. Investors will take them all into account.
Mistakes are easy to make in investor PR. In addition to not engaging properly with the above, there are often those who drive for press for reasons other than business – many to fuel ego – which occasionally impresses but can also cause the company to appear insubstantial and valueless. And there are companies who simply get their timing wrong, who go into a PR effort all guns blazing and then discover a big flaw in the product or service that the PR effort is behind. Both media and investors can be unforgiving when that happens.
And finally, there is often unreasonable expectation. PR efforts don’t succeed straight away – dialogues and relationships take time to nurture and develop to a stage where strategically-focussed, well-written and properly-placed PR can happen. But when it does, it can be wonderfully effective.
If you’d like to talk to us about planning your PR strategy, please contact Danny Stephens in our German team on firstname.lastname@example.org