When you’re a startup, you move fast. It’s not just in your DNA; it’s your competitive advantage when you’re attempting to disrupt a market and take on large companies who move more slowly or compete against other startups trying to get a leg up. Speed and positive outcomes are closely linked when you’re in a product race to be first and best.
That’s why it’s not uncommon for founders to reach out to agencies a week before they want to announce funding, or 48 hours before a SPAC deal is being announced and be like, “Can we hire you to start yesterday?” It’s not a new thing—this has been happening since I got into public relations in the late ’90s, but it also has never been ideal. Today, it’s even less so.
We’re in a funding, SPAC and IPO hailstorm. New unicorns are being minted and private and public S-1 filings are happening daily. A CNBC producer told us they were covering 15 IPOs at various stages during the week after the 4th of July. SPACs combine the mad pace of venture financing with the public market relevance of an IPO, adding intensity to the storm.
Tech has always been a war for attention. Media outlets are short-staffed, companies all feel like they are doing something cool and innovative, and the volume of pitches reporters get each day are overwhelming. Reporters are taking to Twitter to explain why they can’t cover every large funding round that used to be almost guaranteed attention. They’re also begging for more time to cover stories and are understandably annoyed when people question why the pieces are not more in-depth or thoughtful.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Aug. '21 Financial PR/IR & Professional Services PR Magazine
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Your communications teams, including agency partners, want to be more strategic. They want to partner with founders, investors, IR and other stakeholders to craft intentional stories that connect emotionally with strategic audiences versus a transactional article or segment that wastes one of the best assets you have to get your story out to the world.
What can you do?
Bring in your communications team early. The more time they have to think, develop assets, strategize and prepare, the better the outcome and the more you’ll stand out.
Be intentional. Getting a transactional story told by a reporter who doesn’t understand your market because of the media logo, is less impactful than working with someone who has a very good understanding of your market and why you matter.
Balance speed with substance. Stories leak and regulatory filings are a necessary evil, but you control a lot of assets and access that reporters want to use to tell a great story on their timeline. Moving too fast leads to outcomes that are too fleeting.
The world has changed a lot over the past 20 years and especially in the past 18 months. If you’re a company letting finance lead corporate communications—and communicating predominantly by press releases—you’re going to struggle a lot with customers, partners, employees and most of all, recruiting. In the battle for talent, mission-driven investors and brand affinity, your communications program needs to be more thoughtful, intentional and sticky. You’ll have better outcomes and your PR teams, and even the media, will thank you.
Jason Morris is President of Inkhouse, where he oversees the firm’s growth strategies and works with clients in venture capital, technology, healthcare and consumer.