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Leveraging the power of PR for startup growth

Samaipata Editorial Team
June 26, 2024

Written by the Samaipata Editorial Team

This is the fourth episode of "No-Filter Talks," an interview-based video series that invites our Operating Partners to speak openly about their experiences, offering valuable lessons and sometimes hard-to-swallow truths for our founders' success.

In the competitive landscape of entrepreneurship, the strategic deployment of public relations is essential for standing out from the crowd. Nadini Sathiyarajan, a communications expert and Operating Partner at Samaipata, brings a robust background from her leadership roles at companies like Spotify and Qonto, and is currently the Global Communications Lead at Sorare—a blockchain-based fantasy sports platform that has raised over $700M. 

Her expertise in managing both internal and external communications is a beacon for startups aiming to effectively capture the public's attention. 

In this episode, Nadini explores the vital role of PR in building brand credibility, enhancing visibility, and attracting talent for early-stage startups. She provides founders with fundamental PR strategies and insights on how to measure the success of their campaigns and develop their personal brands. If you're a startup founder looking to leverage PR as a powerful tool for growth, Nadini's insights in this episode will be useful. 

Samaipata: Why should startups do PR? 

Nadini: I love this quote by Richard Branson: “Publicity is over critical for a business. A good PR story can be way more effective than a front-page ad.” I believe startups and founders should leverage PR for three main reasons. The first, and I think it's really important in the early stages of a startup, is about establishing credibility. Customers aren't familiar with your product or company, so their first step is likely to search on Google. Having a leading business outlet mention you can help build this trust. Secondly, PR can significantly drive and grow your brand awareness, helping you gain more customers. Lastly, and quite interestingly, PR can help you attract great talent. They are always connected to LinkedIn, and if they see your company mentioned in a leading business media outlet, it will really help you create a beloved brand. Therefore, I strongly encourage all founders and CEOs to consider PR as an integral part of their marketing campaigns.

Samaipata: How important is the founder's personal brand?

Nadini: There are many misconceptions about personal branding. Many CEOs and founders think personal branding merely means self-promotion. On the contrary, personal branding helps you build trust and credibility among your audience. What I love about personal branding is that it is a quick win. You don’t have to invest any money. It requires limited resources and can be activated immediately. It’s just a four-step process. The first step is identifying the topics you want to discuss, whether it's HR, business, or innovation. The second step is defining your tone of voice. Do you want to be inspirational, or delve deeper into certain topics? The third step is creating your community by following people relevant to your business. The fourth and most important part is being regular and consistent on social media. Dedicate one day per week to post on LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other platforms that make sense for you.

Samaipata: How do you measure the success of your campaigns? 

Nadini: Many CEOs and founders are driven by ROI and KPIs. So, when they inquire about measuring PR campaigns, my first question is: what are you trying to achieve with your PR campaign? If it's trust and credibility, your KPIs will differ from those for brand awareness. KPIs for trust might be as simple as one great article in a leading business media outlet. However, brand awareness is more quantitative, measured by the number of clippings or being featured in a major consumer media outlet. That's why it's crucial, as you begin a PR initiative, to define your goals and objectives.

Samaipata: What would be the 3 top pieces of advice for startup founders willing to elevate their PR and Comms strategy?

Nadini: My three pieces of advice for any founder looking to explore PR are:

First, define the scope of your PR needs. Do you need PR to establish trust, to build brand awareness, or to target certain types of audiences like CFOs, customers, or influencers? What is your timeframe? Do you want to start PR now, or in six months?

Second, identify who could be your best partner. PR is a lot about networking, and you need to find the people most relevant to your audience.

Lastly, be creative. PR can enable you to be creative in your marketing approach. You don't have to spend a lot of money, and you can think outside the box. Consider options like doing a LinkedIn live with an influencer or having a partnership with a media outlet. There are so many ways to think about PR, and that is why it's crucial to integrate it into your marketing strategy.

It's important for founders to understand that PR and communications don't happen overnight. It's a long process, and you must be super consistent. If you maintain an integrated marketing approach, PR can really help you drive awareness.

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