10 Tips For Startup Leaders To Improve Public Relations Efforts

Expert Panel®Forbes Councils Member

Public relations can be a difficult aspect of running a business to master. Even seasoned executives and the biggest names in business need help from marketing firms and specialists to set up a winning PR strategy.

Unlike big businesses, though, startups don’t typically have the budget to hire outside help for public relations. Here, 10 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their best tips for startup leaders trying to improve their public relations efforts and explain how effective their advice was when they used it themselves.

Featured members share tips to help startup leaders improve their public relations efforts.
Forbes Coaches Council members share tips to help startup leaders improve their public relations efforts. 

1. Make A Sustainable Social Impact

Connecting our organizational mission and values to making a sustainable social impact in our surrounding communities is a wonderful way to generate positive PR for our firm while strengthening employee engagement, commitment and buy-in. These efforts go beyond mere PR rhetoric. Stakeholders will be able to see the authenticity of your efforts. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC

2. Join The Success Of A Customer

Marketing is ten times more effective when you can articulate how your product or service has improved the life and/or business of a customer. When I did this, I learned more about where our solution “fit” in the hierarchy of customer needs vis-à-vis other alternatives they had used in the past. – Ben Levitan, Cedalion Partners

3. Tell Your Story To Present Your Brand To The World

Talk about who you are, where you came from and why what you do is important. Most startup leaders are caught up in the product and do not speak about their story of origin. Storytelling was effective when I started, as clients felt that they knew me, and I could build trust. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

4. Catch Stakeholders’ Attention

Any startup working to improve public relations needs first to understand what the stakeholders are looking for. The idea is to start with a broad enough topic to catch their attention, then offer a perspective that is unique to the startup, which provides a twist to approaching that topic. This requires masterful narrative building and clarity on the value proposition to the stakeholder. – Thomas Lim, Singapore Public Service, SportSG

5. Know Your Voice And Your Audience

Know your voice. Know your audience. Don’t trust your own answers. Get the answers of those around you. Forget you. Think brand value to your consumers. Be honest. Your audience is smarter than you think. Recognize, acknowledge, accept and focus on who you’re talking with. Don’t assume you know. – Jay Steven Levin, WinThinking

6. Gain Feedback From Stakeholders

Gain feedback from clients and other stakeholders from the get-go. Ensure it is aligned to your company purpose, strategy and values, and if it isn’t, immediately work on ways to make it so. Truly listening to stakeholders, internal and external, is a key way to be “on brand” with PR. Share this feedback, including stories of ways that you turned it around! – Clare Beckett-McInroy, Qatar Foundation

7. Demonstrate How Your Solution Helps People

PR is not an end in itself; it needs to be aligned with your overall strategy and corporate vision. Ultimately, every business is about helping people. The bigger the problem you solve for them, the more valuable your solution is. In your PR efforts, tell the story about your vision—why it’s important and how you’ve found your solution to help people. Most importantly, demonstrate how you have helped them already. – Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™

8. Be Preemptive And Post Consistently

It is always great to be preemptive when it comes to PR. Putting yourself out there as your own type of expert through videos and podcasts can really help in these efforts. It is always best to be consistent and post either every day or multiple times per week. This way, when you’re getting PR, everyone can see how relevant you are in real time. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience

9. Always Post Anything You Publish Or Present

Promoting how great you are or how great your company/product is turns people off. But whenever you present, speak or pitch to a group, or when an article you’ve written is published somewhere (anywhere), there’s nothing wrong with posting it on your social media, using photos to show proud and honored you are to have been given the opportunity to share your expertise, ideas, product and experience. – Gregg Ward, The Center for Respectful Leadership

10. Match Your Needs With A PR Pro

Use a professional who matches what you need from your PR. If you don’t know what your desired outcome from PR is, it may become a futile and costly activity. I had the good fortune to work with a PR agent who offered me this advice: Always articulate well what you would like to achieve from undertaking PR—otherwise, it can have unintended consequences. If the foray is precise, you will get results. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory