Last week, Ventech organized its quarterly Meetup on a subject which is key to any startup: how do you create and execute a good communication strategy for your startup?
Five experienced speakers shared their tips with our captive audience in the Paris office of BlaBlaCar:
- Rachel Vanier, Communication Director at StationF
- Emilie Exertier, PR manager @Stickyads et former PR manager for France and Italy @Sarenza
- Sabrine Mouden, Country Manager France @VestiaireCollective
- Cédric Voigt, General Manager France @Ballou PR
- Romain Dillet, Journalist @TechCrunch France
To begin with, note that a journalist like Romain Dillet writes around 12 articles/week… and receives 3800 daily emails ;)
We have selected for you just 4 tips shared by the panel that will kickstart your startup communication… and might help you make it into Romain´s busy schedule!
1. Develop mutually beneficial relationships with journalists!
- Build a connection with them on the long run
-> understand who is the person you are talking to, what topics he/she has covered recently, do not meet them for the first time when you need them
- Romain Dillet shared a secret with us: he hates press releases!
-> provide storytelling elements that will spice up your story in the mind of the journalist: What is driving you in this venture? Why you? How did you come up with your startup idea?
- Consider that journalists´ interests are not necessarily aligned with those of startups: journalists seek exclusive news while startups want to share their message with the largest audience on many channels simultaneously
- Romain’s special tip just for you: when writing to journalists, add an FAQ section in your email signature that answers the few questions that journalists would frequently ask
2. Build a long-term communication plan
A PR stunt alone is not sufficient and it should not be improvised.
- First of all, define your corporate values within a document that is always updated and available for the spokespersons. Rachel Vanier recommends the Collins/Porras Vision Framework from Harvard Business Review.
- Assign someone who is in charge of communicating (spokesperson), it must always be the same (few) people inside your company who are responsible for your company´s communication. According to Emilie’s experience, the founders have to be involved in the process.
- Prior to any PR action, define your objective, message, target audience and communication channels. And check that they are in line with the document defined in a.
Emilie’s tip: Don’t forget to discuss with spokespersons about the topics that should not be shared in the open!
Sabrine’s tip: If the company is already international, you should adapt the message to local specificities. And start with small media, it will help you to reach the main ones.
3. Define KPIs and leverage tools for your communication strategy
- Rachel Vanier uses a simple Excel sheet to keep track of her journalists’ contacts (as she almost never shoots a press release to a database).
- Mention is a good and affordable tool to monitor your brand online.
- PR agencies are rarely relevant for early-stage startups (even confirmed by Cédric Voigt!)
- Identify the relevant indicators that you will track to measure whether you have succeeded in reaching your objective.
A few examples given by Cédric: # of publications, comments, requests for interviews/meetings, retweets or # of participants if the communication’s goals is to organize an event…
4. Choose the right timing
- Has your company achieved a significant milestone recently that will draw attention on your company?
-> for instance, a major partnership with a key player in your industry, hiring of an expert/experienced person in your field in your field, new financing round, opening of an office abroad
- Is there a major event in your industry coming up that you will attend?
-> for instance for B2C Hardware -> CES, for SaaS -> SaaStr…)
- Has there been something in the news recently which can serve as an opener for you?
-> for instance, train strikes and BlaBlacar or United Airlines and Puma
Want to know more about Startup PR? Have a look at this detailed article written by Rachel some times ago !
Feel free to share your tips in the comments section of this article, whether it is about internal communication, community management, newsletters or others.
We would like to thank everyone who attended our meetup, from the panelists to the audience, and of course BlaBlaCar for hosting us and taking care of the organization of the meetup!