PR ON THE GO November 04, 2022

What Can Founders Expect From Their First PR Campaign?

Output and outcome

We asked our PR and growth experts to outline what new business founders can expect from their first PR campaign. Our experts summarize the PR processes and timeframe of a typical small business or startup launch campaign. Find out here what results and what successes you can realistically expect and what pitfalls you should avoid.

Get In Contact With A Consultant Early.

Andrea Sok, Owner at SOK Influencer PR

"Like with any campaign your first step should be to outline your goals and objectives. What does success look like? This is usually where we as PR professionals need to level-set expectations. Every client wants to be on the front page of the New York Times, but that is not realistic and honestly most businesses are not prepared to act on the type of attention that would bring. The entire process can be quick, but I always advise clients to bring their PR team or consultant in as soon as the idea forms. The more runway we have and opportunities to shape the campaign the better."

Brand Asset Building And Strategy

Emily Reynolds Bergh, Founder of R Public Relations Firm

"Congratulations on starting your first PR campaign! I think the very first step is to organize your expectations and vision for what you would like to achieve and discuss this with your agency partner, in a candid manner, as the questions and set mutual deadlines and targets. The second step is to share any sort of relevant documentation on your business that they may not find online and spend as much time as needed for them to get to know your brand as if they are a new employee. Usually the first part of a campaign is brand asset building, and strategy, this will include some initial pitches and media list curation, and should last about 2-3 weeks. Do not rush this process, they will be speaking on your behalf and need to have all the tools and the education to do so, this does take some time. Ideally some pitching will take place within that timeframe and you will get a temperature read from your agency on the receiving of the pitch to media, you should expect some queries and interest within the first month."

Coherence

Gerrid Smith, Director of E-commerce at Joy Organics

"The first thing that, in my opinion, founders absolutely have to be aware of concerning the company is: Effective public relations campaigns use reiteration to establish a recognized pattern of communication with their intended audiences. An effective public relations campaign maintains a constant frequency and tone of communication. Customers are conditioned to link a given mode of communication with a predetermined entity through the use of repetition. Establishing a regular cadence for disseminating information to customers requires careful planning. The same goes for figuring out the best means of long-term communication."

Tailored Messaging

Trevor Sookraj, CEO of Divisional

"When your business is new, your number one focus is going to be expanding brand awareness so that you can start building a customer base. Basically, you just have to get people to realize that you exist. So, that’s probably going to be the underlying purpose behind your first PR campaign. As a new business who doesn’t yet have many customers, there will have to be some extra work done in the research section of the PR campaign process. [The process is known as RPIE – Research, Programming, Implementation, Evaluation]. There will need to be thorough research done on who your customer is, as well as who you are as a business so that branding can be nailed down and messaging is properly tailored to the correct demographics."

PR Calendar

Simon Brisk, CEO of Click Intelligence

"Timing is crucial in PR, particularly when it comes to thought leadership. When a startup or SME has started focusing on building its brand, that is the ideal time to implement a PR strategy. They must have reached a point where they have tested their story and messaging in sales interactions. You must be aware of your story, have a mission and vision, and have some notion of the perspectives and messages that are most effective. You should wait a bit if you're still working all that out.

I strongly advise using a PR calendar to keep up with trends in your field and improve your chances of being published. This calendar will serve as your guide for producing timely and pertinent material. I am aware that journalists lead hectic lifestyles. They don't have much free time because they have to research their stories, pitch them to their venues, and write their articles. Planning allows you to see all the tasks you must complete to secure coverage, such as writing, pitching, and following up. Use this calendar to note other ongoing initiatives or campaigns within your company, any trends you notice in your sector and other noteworthy events."

Budget For PR

Cody Candee, Founder & CEO of Bounce

"While initial PR is often free, you should expect your expenses will go up shortly after your first efforts. Getting that blurb in the local journal or getting your business’s name picked up in a syndicated news outlet are often the first inexpensive PR you will receive, but running a sustained PR effort requires more than just the occasional reporter outreach.

Hiring writers, using staff hours to reach out to journalists and other organizations, designing follow-ups, and making certain your PR is in line with your marketing, all cost money and will usually be a sustained expense. PR campaigns will always grow, and therefore understanding that the initial cost of your efforts will not remain as such will require you budget in the future accordingly."

Distribute Wisely

Alice Hall, Co-Founder & Creative Director at Rowen Homes

"Once you have identified your newsworthy viewpoint, submit it to media outlets that cover your industry. You may even submit the tale to a nearby radio or television station.. You must thoroughly examine media businesses by going to their websites and determining how much their news streams are influenced by your sector. Media outlets don't care that you're building a new Italian restaurant, but they do care about an intriguing narrative, such as "A new Italian restaurant is heeding this need," which highlights the untapped market for convenient meals for large families in [this city]."

Long-Term Investment

Ian Sterling, Founder at Fish Lab

"As a business owner, you can expect to see an increase in web traffic, media coverage, and ultimately, sales. However, it's important to remember that a PR campaign should be viewed as long-term investment and not a short-term solution. By creating relationships with key reporters and maintaining consistent communication with them, you'll be able to reap the most benefits from your campaign. And, of course, always be prepared to put your best foot forward - a great product or service will make it that much easier to achieve success."

Have A Solid Product And Strategy

Davin Joseph, Marketing Manager at My Enamel Pins

"Founders can expect a lot of excitement and energy from their first PR campaign. It's a great way to introduce the company to the world and get people excited about what you're doing. However, it's also important to stay grounded and remember that a PR campaign is just one part of the overall marketing mix. It's important to have a solid product and strategy in place before you launch your campaign, and to continue working on those things even after the campaign is over."

Focus On Long-Term Health Of Your Business

Akshay Bansal, Founder & CEO of Heuro

"Founders often overreact when their first PR campaign succeeds, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by the University of Nebraska Omaha, found that early success can lead to an inflated opinion of one's company and a heightened sensitivity to criticism.

"The study found that early success can lead to an inflated opinion of one's company and a heightened sensitivity to criticism," said study author Brian Crotty. " Founders need to be careful not to get so comfortable with their newfound reputation that they become blind to any potential problems."

Crotty's research examined the experiences of over 130 founders who participated in a moderate to large PR campaign. He found that those who had early success tended to be more aggressive in responding to feedback, overestimate their company's importance and become more sensitive to criticism.

"The key to avoiding these pitfalls is to be constantly vigilant and to engage with stakeholders on a regular basis," Crotty said. "Otherwise, a founder's inflated opinion of their company and susceptibility to criticism could lead to a downfall."

Crotty's findings have important implications for founders in the startup environment. "PR can be a great way to attract attention to your company, and early success can be a powerful motivator," he said. "But founders need to be careful not to get carried away and to keep an eye on the long-term health of their company."

3-6 Month Time Frame

Leszek Dudkiewicz, Head of Marketing at Passport Photo Online

"The first thing you realize when you’re on your way to launching your first PR campaign is that there are so many strategies to pick from, and you need a clear idea of what you’re doing, why, and how.

Most PR campaigns are planned with a 3-6 month time frame in mind, and the process of launching it starts with underlying the basics, such as your target demographic, what exactly you wish to communicate, and choosing your channels and platforms. Usually, there’s a lot of brainstorming on the way, as it’s better to involve at least a few people to bounce ideas off of each other. The full execution of the campaign should take you roughly one-and-a-half weeks, although there is room for a certain dynamism if you consider holidays or other events."

Boost Of Confidence

Carla Williams Johnson, The CEO's Publicist at Carli Communications

"If I had to summarize the feeling many of my clients get when they're featured the first time, I would say it's a mix of joy, excitement, pride with just a hint of 'omg did this really happen?!......and that's just the beginning.

In as little as three weeks my clients have told me they've sold out events, programs and masterclasses. Many have seen an increase in paid speaking gigs, booked out calendars of clients just waiting to work with them and an income growth in excess of $30k per month

Lastly, many of my clients have expressed that they get an extra boost of confidence.
It's something about seeing their name in black and white or seeing themselves on TV that really puts them in a different mindset....it's like if you can do this, you can pretty much do anything."

Start Of Relationships With Journalists

Jas Banwait Gill, Growth Manager of SwagMagic

"While your first PR campaign may be more of a testing ground for your future efforts, it is an excellent opportunity to start building relationships with journalists and other media representatives. And the best way to begin is by allowing a bit of time before following up with them, as pushy PR may sour the connection from the get-go. Journalists typically need 2 or 3 days to review a pitch and decide whether they are interested. And as most writers are rushing to cover stories and beat deadlines in the latter part of the day, it's best to follow up with them in the morning. Showing consideration for a reporter's time will go a long way in gaining their favor."

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