Is 2020 going to be the year that you will launch your business? If so, you are probably also looking to generate as much free publicity as possible. You have probably perfected your elevator pitch with family and friends. After all that practice, explaining your business to the media should be a cinch, shouldn’t it? To our great regret we have found that many stories crumble under the scrutiny of a seasoned journalist. You only get one chance to make a first impression and to tell your story in such a way that your target audience feels instantly connected. We are here to help you make the most of that one chance. Let’s do this.
Not surprisingly, we think start-ups should utilise PR for their storytelling. Not necessarily for information about their services or products, but to give insight into why they do what they do, what they stand for and what their purpose is. PR is the perfect vehicle for such messages. There is still a lot of room for innovation for the new generation of entrepreneurs. Successful start-ups are in a class of their own when it comes to driving change: they develop innovative business models, form unexpected alliances and have disruptive ideas that shake up entire industries. Somehow, the PR strategies of many start-ups don’t always seem to reflect the myriad of inspiring stories that could be told. For some founders, pitching to investors is a piece of cake. However, the media, consumers and a growing number of the above-mentioned investors demand more than a mere commercial or technical spiel. They want to be moved by an authentic story with social relevance. So, change is needed.
Finding your ‘why’ ?
To illustrate our point, we quote rapper Eminem: ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow.’ For start-ups, that one shot is the PR introduction, that first contact with the media. That is your chance to build a credible brand that adds value for consumers. A convincing, authentic and comprehensible brand story needs a clear what, when and how–and most of all: a why. As Simon Sinek said put it: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ A convincing ‘why’–the new cornerstone of corporate storytelling–will provide your start-up with news value, setting you apart from the pack and enabling you to draw in clients or consumers on an emotional level. This in return will mean more impact for your business.
To give you an idea
Take felyx, for instance. The growth of this Dutch start-up, in the business of shared electric scooters, was largely due to their strong story. The service and the twofold company mission of tackling traffic problems in big cities and reducing carbon emissions hit the sweet spot for consumers. A simple yet relevant story that turned out to be very effective.
Another example: young Dutch entrepreneur Rutger Post quit his IT job, launched a web-shop selling watches and, later on, built his own watch brand Aeromeister. Post was successful at both enterprises, but he felt there was something missing: brand experience. He knew the story behind his latest model, a watch made from the wing of a downed warplane, was strong. However, as it lacked a brand story, he turned to a PR agency to help generate publicity. He started a brand positioning track with them and found his brand purpose. His own story was the driving force: life is short; do what makes you happy. The essence of the brand was then captured in words and images–a visual brand story. Armed with reasons to believe, reasons to buy and an authentic, engaging story, Post was ready to face both the market and the media.
Be a brand champion
It’s not just start-ups that benefit from a strong story. Brand managers, CEOs, marketers and spokespeople all gain profit from a clear story to tell when they interact with the media, be it a press conference or a spontaneous visit from a vlogger (case in point: #BOOS-vlogger Tim Hofman). The current media do not appreciate interviewees who simply recite a list of bullet points, verbalise marketing platitudes or rattle off a press release; they expect them to embody a brand. The old adage ‘preparation makes perfect’ still applies. Good prep work will help you formulate a good brand story and be at ease in front of the camera. Specialists in the fields of brand positioning and media training are invaluable assets when it comes to preparation. The game is not just about promoting your product or service: you need a convincing and relevant message in order to survive.