The right media coverage can be a boon for any company and even more so for a start-up.  Just ask the London, Ontario-based voice-over company who was recently mentioned in the New York Times article “The Do-It-Yourself Economy”  by Thomas Friedman (author of many influential books such as “The World is Flat”).  Friedman wrote about how the recession is encouraging companies to increasingly shop around the online marketplace for cheaper, faster and more convenient services and gave examples of companies like who are profiting from this trend.

The coverage landed the company several large new accounts as well as thousands of new users. Website registration and sales increased by 53% after the article ran.

That’s the power of PR at its best – the ability to create demand and open doors. Being mentioned by a key influencer via a topic of interest to the public can be more effective than advertising or marketing, especially if it comes from a credible source. But PR is about more than just media coverage and getting mentioned by the right people in the right places and at the right time  – it is a hybrid of different communications that build bridges with influencers such as analysts, journalists, customers, bloggers, and investors among others.  Not only must a startup build key relationships both offline and online, they must do so strategically, using key messaging about their company that resonates with these influencers and their audiences.  And they often have to do all this with limited resources.

At last week’s Best Practices: PR 101: Opportunities for entrepreneurs, Hill and Knowlton’Mary Keating (Senior VP and National Practice Leader, Technology) and David Chin (VP, Technology Communications Practice) talked about when and how start-ups can use PR and some of the practical steps they can take towards building a PR foundation and launch plan.  They discussed tactical tools such as an influencer map, a key message matrix and the key elements of a press kit.  They also covered the sometimes sticky subject of who should be the spokesperson for a start-up and how a start-up can maintain and maximize their PR momentum.

I had a chance to sit down with Mary and David after the session and ask them a few questions.  Check out the video below (“PR 101: 4 hot tips for entrepreneurs”) to hear their answers to these questions:

  1. Why is PR so important for a start-up?
  2. At what point in a start-up’s development should it start thinking about PR?
  3. What are the most important PR materials for a start-up?
  4. What tips can you give to a start-up talking to the media for the first time?

You can also check out their presentation slides or watch the presentation video below.

Interested in other great articles on PR for entrepreneurs?  Check out:

Public Relations 101 – 4 hot tips for start-ups

MaRS Best Practices – PR 101: Opportunities for Entrepreneurs from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.
PR 101: Opportunities for Entrepreneurs
View more presentations from MaRS Discovery District.

Keri Damen

Keri leads the strategic design, development, marketing and expansion of cutting edge business programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing, HR, management and leadership at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. See more…