A couple of weeks ago, we spent the day at the inspiring Plexal building, formerly the press office for the 2012 Olympics and now an innovation hub for “deep tech” startups.
The event was Informed Funding’s Funding Fair for Deep Tech, featuring startups, funders and academics, and was jam-packed with really useful information about everything from tech trends and university entrepreneurship to what to look for in a successful startup team and how to pick your funder.
Fourth Day was on hand to offer advice on how startups can establish their credibility when pitching for funding – essential for start-ups looking to catch the eye of investors. No-one’s going to buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and investors know this too. As a follow up to the event, we’ve put together some tips for startups to help build a good PR strategy:
Who are you trying to impress?
Spend time pinpointing your target audience. Who are they? How can you best reach them? LinkedIn? Tech media? Events? Do your homework and make sure you understand who you are talking to and what they care about. If you’re going out to the media, think about the individual publications and what their readers need and want to know about. Also consider the individual journalist. What tone do they use? What angles have they taken in the past? Badly researched, irrelevant pitches are a big no-no.
Steer clear of the jargon jungle
For tech start-ups, it can be easy to fall into the trap of describing your product or service as ‘game changing’ or ‘disruptive.’ Don’t do it unless you can back up your claims with proof that you really are. Whoever you are talking to, always keep it simple. If a journalist can’t understand what you do, they won’t write about you. And if a journalist doesn’t understand, why would an investor?
Come up with an angle
Keeping up to speed on what’s happening in the news can help start-ups to position themselves as credible industry commentators – but hundreds of others will be doing the same. Come up with an angle that the journalist hasn’t written about before or something that they might not know about. Maybe you can offer them an interview with an end user?
Know that ‘people buy from people…’
The credibility and reputation of the company often hinges on the founder of that business. So, be prepared to put yourself out there as a public figure. This could be launching a LinkedIn blog series that charts your entrepreneurial journey, attending an industry panel or securing a speaking slot.
The right story for the right audience
As a founder, it can be hard to be objective about how exciting your business is. Winning a regional award won’t get you coverage in the likes of WIRED but it can be a great tool for social media and attracting talent – and it boosts team morale. It’s all about judging how exciting a story is for your chosen audience and picking the right channel to communicate it.
Every start-up wants to launch with a bang, but it can be all too easy to invest your entire budget into the first few months, and then descend into silence. The best PR programmes will keep your name popping up here, there and everywhere over a sustained period – keeping you front of mind with stakeholders.
Communicate your potential for value creation
An investor will obviously be thinking about potential profits, but they will also be considering how a company will fit into their portfolio. Be sure to communicate your potential for value creation – not just financial, but also the less tangible benefits such as the reputational value that will come by being associated with your company’s culture.
Xanthe is a co-founder and director of Fourth Day PR