When to get on the radar?
Time and time again many companies talk about when does it make sense to do PR and what should it look like. PR is a wide net. It can run the gamut from media to founders being on panels or one-on-one interviews. I have seen companies get so much press without enough in the back end to support the PR and then others where the PR was great for business.
There is definitely a balance. If you have something to report, besides closing a round which I have yet to understand the importance of that, then by all means figure out the right audience that should be hearing the news. Certainly, as companies become larger, it is important for the founders to get out there be it on panels and speaking to audiences about what their company does and perhaps discussing the reality of start-up world.
More than a handful of companies have done an excellent job of promoting themselves without anything tangible in the background. It goes under the heading that you can have a shitty product with a killer sales team you can win all day long but if you have a fantastic product with a shitty sales team you can easily lose. Everything is about balance.
Someone gave me the advice a long time ago that if you are asked to be on a panel, make sure that you believe the other people on the panel are better than you. You want to be on panels that elevate your game. Sports analogies work here…think about playing doubles in tennis.
There is not a handbook about when to be in the media, when to begin doing panels, went to start sharing your story to others about building your company, when to get out from under the radar, etc. Each decision should be thoughtful around message and timing. You want to get something out of those times you leave your desk. And as your company becomes more successful, particularly for women, there is the importance of being the role model for the next generation of female founders who feel more empowered because they can see clearly that another woman figured it out.
If you have something to report, besides closing a round which I have yet to understand the importance of thatAnd as a matter of fact I just had that situation working with a company that gave a deadline for a project as a consequence of wanting to announce a funding round that they were delaying.So I asked the question ‘why is it important for you to announce the funding?’. Because I thought it would potentially jeopardize the strategy of what I was doing. Actually I knew it would.I don’t want to get into the answer that I was given. However I do think that a large part of that type of PR goes along with my theory which I have called ‘party in your brain’. It’s not what people think or what is reality. It’s what your brain is telling you people will think.  Much of that drives how you operate in life. In other words the fantasy of who you think you are and what you are all about. Along those lines (if I am right and I’ve seen enough of it to think I am) there is value to certain types of publicity even if there is honestly no obvious value in doing so. As long as (in the case that I am mentioning) there isn’t a measurable downside to the publicity of the funding round. So sure the party makes you happy and gives you energy to say the least.Unfortunately there are downsides. Others knowing what you are doing, and what you have achieved, makes them envious and potentially spurs them (your competitors) into greater action.As only one small example it could also help them close a funding round. To shorten a bit ‘it’s not what people think. It’s what you think they think’.
A lot of startups’ success (Honey, Bumble, Minibar) come from getting early press and doing early large-scale marketing. Especially with consumer-based companies, PR can be a valuable tool startups use in order to stick out from the bunch and to gain early adopters.In terms of funding announcements: future investors are provided with info about the company from the (hopefully unbiased) point of view of an established journalist. More importantly, funding announcements can show trends in industries and can predict the advancements of that particular sector.
Sales solve everything.
yes it does.
That said, making noise early is a good way to test the market before investing too much in product dev – as long as you know exactly how to delivery quickly if people bite.
Great advice.And then struck by your last sentence about being a role model. Perhaps it’s my stage of life, but, more and more I find myself open to being involved in things because of the role model factor, not just for young women and girls to see someone like me as an entrepreneur but for young men and boys to also see someone like me.I used to think that I needed to arrive at a certain level of success to be a role model, but have come to realize that the picture of vision, passion and perseverance is valuable regardless of where the business (or entrepreneur) is on the continuum as are the lessons learned along the way.Although admittedly “slogging it out” is more inspiring as part of a great success story than when you are in the middle of it. 🙂
You can’t be what you can’t see is one of my favorite lines. Seeing you as a successful woman is powerful to the next generation of boys and girls. They have to be able to see women like you particularly at that point in life when they look past their parents for other role models that represent opportunities outside of their box.
Sometimes if it’s a big round of financing publicity can help-it helps with customer acquisition (perceived permanence) and it might help to attract talent. It also sends a signal to other VCs and entrepreneurs that they might be too late to enter.