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PR for Early Stage Companies: Pros & Cons

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As the CEO of an early stage company, there are a lot of hats you have to wear. The list of tasks to complete are never-ending and with limited employees, there are many different job functions you have to take on – some that you may be familiar with, and some that may fall outside your realm of expertise.

You’re also constantly being advised on the many things you should be doing in order to be successful, so how do you know which areas to prioritize when you have limited resources?

One area where this question often comes up for early stage companies is in Public Relations: whether or not they should focus on PR, either in addition to or in place of other marketing efforts.

Ultimately, you will have to decide what is right for your company. To help assess the situation however, I’ve outlined some of the Pros & Cons to PR for early stage companies below.

PROS:

1. Leverage a larger network

As an early stage company, you likely don’t have a huge community of followers yet. Your newsletter subscriber list, social following, and blog readerships may be small-to-insignificant. But leveraging PR can help you tap into the community of whichever publication you are published in, which is likely to be much larger and ideally (if you’re choosing them correctly) full of target customers. Use PR as a way to amplify your brand message and extend the reach of your content.

2. Media influences conversion rates

According to a recent Hubspot study, Media Articles are one of the key purchase influencers for business software, second only to customer referrals and word-of-mouth referrals. By getting added exposure in relevant news sources, PR can help you align your product or service with a reputable media outlet and leverage their sphere of influence to drive conversions.

3. Can do internally to save money

You don’t necessarily have to hire a new employee to execute PR for your brand. Effective PR services can be performed internally by any existing team member who has the time to dedicate to building relationships with relevant journalists and to submit well-written content that aligns with what the journalists typically publish on.

Cons:

1. PR can be extremely time consuming

While you can do PR internally, you may want to hire someone outside your company to do PR services on your behalf, as the job can be unbelievably time consuming. Most PR professionals or advisors will tell you that in order to do effective PR, you will need to source and monitor those journalists who write content most relatable to your company’s offering. This means locating the journalists, consistently reading as much of their published body of work as possible, and then finding ways to pitch to them while keeping your story relevant and interesting. This could mean a lot of work, and with the many other things on your plate, you may not want to dedicate so much of you or your employees’ time to PR.

2. Can be expensive to outsource

Reputable PR firms can charge anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 a month, and as an early stage company it is not uncommon to be strapped for cash. $5,000 may be a sizable piece of your current funding, which you may also have earmarked for other business growth areas, such as hiring talent, product development, or operating services. How much are you willing to dedicate to PR?

3. No guarantee of success

Even when doing PR correctly, as instructed by firms or advisors, there is no guarantee that your content will be published. Unlike paid advertising where your message is contracted to be displayed, you can spend a lot of time submitting content to journalists and hear nothing back. The process is, for the most part, out of your control. And while getting your brand published in the New York Times could mean a huge payout, gaining no traction at all is a risk you’ll have to assess when determining whether or not you want to do dedicated PR.

As I stated earlier, ultimately its up to each company to decide where they dedicate their time and resources for developing their business, and whether or not PR is a part of that. But I hope this has helped to start the conversation.

Brooke Hammerling, founder of BrewPR and who’s roster includes companies such as Oracle, WordPress, and About.Me, believes that most early stage companies don’t need PR. Her stance, in this First Round Review article, is that at this stage, companies should spend their time and money on developing their product and building their team. Only if that company is entering a crowded market, has a CEO with previous history with the press, or if the technology is disruptive enough to change a huge industry, does Brooke recommend leveraging a PR firm.

From my own experience with CEOs, I’ve heard different remarks. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the CEOs we interviewed regarding the hurdles they faced as they grew their business and what they wished they had done differently: “The correct sequence is: Iterate your platform until you have a really good product market fit. Step number 2 is to start with PR – get the word out, get articles, get a bunch of PR. Only once you have sufficient visibility through editorial, only then do you start spending marketing dollars.”

Let me know your thoughts on PR for early stage companies in the comments below or by reaching out to me at lauren@therevenuegroup.net. Feel free to also explore other thought-provoking content on our website & blog here: https://www.therevenuegroup.net/news-updates.

 

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How to Save Money on Content Marketing

Like many of my clients, I don’t have a lot of resources at my disposal to create the hundreds of pieces of content that I know I need in order to do really effective content marketing.

With so many different ways for customers to consume content in today’s digital world, the idea of just starting out on this task seems daunting. How to know where to begin?

Let me share with you what I do. There are 2 ways to begin tackling this challenge that don’t require a lot of money or a huge team of marketers:

  1. Distill the Customer Journey to 3 general phases and correlate the content you create to these 3 phases
  2. Repurpose your content! Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose!

Distilling the Customer Journey

In my last blog post I mentioned that in Today’s Customer Journey, it is nearly impossible for marketers to anticipate every single path a customer might take to engaging with their brand, and so creating content for each of those outlets is a waste of time.

There are however, three general stages that every customer will go through which you can use to streamline the types of content you produce.

These stages are:

attract-engage-convert

Attract, Engage, Convert

In the Attract phase, the customer is just getting familiar with your brand. So keep your content focused on your user’s pain points and problems. As a general rule, only 5% of the content should be focused on your company. The content should also be short, to-the-point, and easily digestable.

  • Recommended content formats correlating to the Attract phase include:
    • Infographics
    • Videos
    • Blog posts
    • Social media posts

In the Engage phase, you’re starting to build trust with the consumer. Focus your content on possible solutions to their problem. General rule is 25% of the content should be focused on your company’s offerings. It should be interactive, thought-provoking, and educational.

  • Recommended content formats correlating to the Engage phase include:
    • Powerpoints
    • Top 10 lists
    • Do’s & Don’ts
    • Best Practices Checklists
    • How To Guides

In the Convert phase, you’re telling the customer why they should choose your product or service over a competitor’s. Focus the content on how your company’s specific solution addresses their problem. 70% of the content should be focused on your company, if not more. The content should be lengthier, detailed, and highly informative.

  • Recommended content formats correlating to the Convert phase include:
    • Whitepapers
    • Demo Videos
    • Case Studies
    • Testimonials
    • Comparison Guides

Repurposing Your Content

So now that we’ve distilled the customer journey to 3 phases, it still seems like we have quite a bit of content to produce. However, if you repurpose your content, you’ll find that you can save yourself a lot of time and money by leveraging what you’ve already created.

For example, if you have already spent the time (and maybe money) on creating a whitepaper, highlight key points to turn the content into a slideshow or a webinar. Distilling the whitepaper even further can lend itself to creating infographics or even a short introduction video.

All content can be repurposed into different formats for the Attract, Engage, and Convert stages of the customer journey, so you don’t have to spend precious time creating original content every single time.

Diversifying the format also gives your existing content added exposure and allows more possibility for a customer to engage with what you’ve produced via their preferred media.  Not everyone engages with content in the same way, so repurposing your content will help maximize it’s reach.

Here are some specific examples of how you can repurpose your content:

Blog Posts can be reformatted to:

  1. Whitepapers  – simply combine all your great blog content into one cohesive document so that a user can download for easy reference in one location.
  2. Videos – take the most important tips from your blog post and create a short script from them. Then find some good lighting and a cameraman, and record a short one-minute video to be promoted on your website and social media accounts.
  3. Podcasts – record yourself, or hire a professional voice, to read your blog post aloud and then submit to podcast sites such as iTunes, PodOmatic, PodBean, and Blog Talk Radio for additional exposure.

Whitepapers can be reformatted to:

  1. Slideshows – Tell the same story as in your whitepaper but through visuals. Highlight key sections of your whitepaper by summarizing into a few short sentences and adding to the slides.
  2. Webinars – As in a slideshow, turn your whitepaper into a visual representation and record with voice-over, highlighting the main points of the whitepaper as you speak to the slides.
  3. Blog Posts – Pull out the most important elements of your whitepaper and create separate blog posts for each. Distill your information to it’s basic points to keep the content short and to-the-point.

Infographics can be reformatted to:

  1. Social Media Posts – Take snippets of information from your infographic and promote individually across your social handles. Be sure to link back to the infographic whenever possible to showcase the full story.
  2. Slideshows – Dive deeper into the details of the different elements of the infographic and explain why they might be relevant to the viewer.

Other examples of how to repurpose content for content marketing efforts can be found at the following links:

What I’ve Learned

In my own efforts, I’ve found that I have hundreds of blog posts at my disposal that can be turned into videos, podcasts, slideshows, whitepapers, etc. So the question isn’t so much about what idea to use for a whitepaper, it’s more of which piece do I already have that I want to elaborate on?

And although still time-consuming, at least the methods listed about bring some order to the madness that is Content Marketing – and can help cut corners when you don’t have the resources at your disposal to command an army of well-funded employees to create hundreds of different forms of content.

Let me know what you’ve learned from your own content marketing experiences in the comments below, or by reaching out to me directly at lauren@therevenuegroup.net.

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Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 10.51.49 AM

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Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 10.58.20 AM

With the conversion point no longer the end of the journey, but instead opening a new pathway towards building customer loyalty and advocation.

But in today’s world, with hundreds of thousands of media outlets and different ways to consume content, the customer conversion journey really looks more like this:

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 2.51.02 PM.png

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