7 Ways Startups Are Unique When it Comes to PR

Startups can be unique when it comes to PR. Here’s how.

Startups — there’s just something about them. They have an allure.

But underneath that shiny exterior, it’s not all angel investors and IPOs.

Those of use who’ve been working with startups a while can tell you a secret — it’s not for everyone. There are a few ways startups may differ from any other type of business or organization.

So, just what is it that makes startups so unique when it comes to PR? Here are a few differences:

1) They may be new to PR: Some startup teams have experience with PR, while others have none. Be ready to hold their hand as you walk down the sometimes bumpy path to achieving results. It may take extra time and patience to explain why you want to pursue a particular angle or tactic.

2) Their expectations need to be managed: They all want to be in TechCrunch. Of course, they do. But, as we in PR understand, this may — or may not — happen. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. And since there are no guarantees with PR (it’s not advertising), use care in setting expectations.

3) They move fast: This can be a problem for some in the PR world. Agencies don’t always move as fast as startups wish they did. And some consultants just aren’t cut out to operate at lightning speed. “You need it tomorrow?!” Yes, they need it tomorrow. And don’t expect a lot of notice on every upcoming announcement. Things happen quickly in startup land.

4) They like to pivot: Just when you think you know the direction and have the messaging down, BAM, they decide to go in a different direction. Not everyone can turn on a dime and change it up overnight — but with startups, it can happen. So, you have to be prepared to change gears quickly.

5) They’re usually strapped for cash: It isn’t unusual for startups to want to leverage PR as the powerful marketing tool it is — however, they may not have the big budget some PR agencies or consultants demand. A smaller agency or a consultant who specializes in working with startups may be a better fit. Or, some may decide to try to do it themselves.

6) Their startup is their baby: You wouldn’t want just anyone taking care of your baby now, would you? So expect them to scrutinize what you’re doing and ask a lot of questions. This is their passion, so it needs to be yours, too.

7) They can get overexcited: Startup founders can get really worked up really fast. It’s the PR pro’s job to stay calm — no matter what. The lights went out at your press conference? No problem. The software crashed during a demo? Don’t panic. You have to bring a sense of sanity, even when things are going wrong. “Serenity now” should be your mantra.

While working with startups on PR may not be for everyone, for those of us who do it — and love it — it can be a rewarding opportunity. Just strap in and enjoy the ride.

A version of this appeared previously on PR Daily.

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