How PR Helps Startups Attract VCs Remotely
Take away face-to-face meetings and events, and it can be extremely difficult for startups to establish trust with a new investor. While deals are still happening, many investors are refocusing efforts on existing portfolios and growing more cautious about starting new relationships under the current circumstances. The current remote environment is drawing out the due diligence stage for new investments and making it difficult for startups to find opportunities beyond their existing networks. So how can startup founders get in front of new VCs and raise funding remotely?
One way is with a strategic public relations campaign. Securing media coverage can help startups get on the radar of new investors no matter where they are located. A public relations campaign is also the perfect way to showcase any new traction, especially if founders have reached out to a potential investor in the past and conversations stalled. Sharing fresh press coverage can put a startup back on the radar, and help build credibility to land new meetings. Here’s a look at how startup founders can use public relations to drive investor interest.
Figure out the right publications to target
Many startups make the mistake of focusing only on the mainstream tech and business publications. Unfortunately, this means they might be leaving out other publications that investors are reading that may be more relevant to their industry. Startups should build a list of publications to target that includes high profile outlets, local press, and key industry or trade publications. This list could also include any outlets that have covered similar companies at the same stage, or that covered funding stories similar to the startup’s goal.
Some investors only invest locally, and others will only support startups at certain stages or in specific industries. It’s important to remember this when starting a public relations campaign with the goal of getting in front of investors.
Write thought leadership articles
There will be times when startups don't have anything “newsworthy” to share, so having the company CEO write thought leadership articles can be a great alternative to stay in the media. Having a consistent presence in the right publications is one of the best ways to showcase industry expertise and can even help turn a startup’s founder(s) into valuable sources for larger publications, panels, or speaking engagements. Writing for these publications allows startups to speak directly to their target audience and any potential investors.
Go more in-depth or technical
While securing a story in a mainstream news outlet can provide startups with a credibility boost, these publications are not usually a good opportunity to delve into technical aspects of the business. Startups should compliment general media coverage with opportunities that allow them to go more in-depth on the business model or any technical aspects that may interest potential investors.
Webinars or podcasts are great platforms for this type of PR. Startup founders can look for popular podcasts in their industry or invite any industry acquaintances, partners, or other experts to get together and discuss the specific problem the technology addresses via video stream. With lockdowns and travel restrictions, everyone is spending a lot more time online and tuning in to these virtual events.
Share press mentions everywhere
Once a story goes live, startups shouldn’t just leave it up to the reporter and publication to spread the word. The startup must also make an effort to spread the article as far and wide as possible. Any press coverage should go on all of the company’s social media channels and be shared by all critical team members. Startups should also share the story in any company newsletters as well as with any partners or existing investors, and link to the article on the company website.
Once a startup has secured some press coverage, it’s a good idea to create a “Press” or “As Featured In” section on the website. Press logos and links rarely go unnoticed, and they are a good way to showcase the company’s authority. Any media mentions should also be included in company presentations and pitch decks as a way to confirm the market is taking notice.
PR and fundraising can work together
Launching a public relations campaign can be challenging, but it’s one of the best ways for startups to build credibility early and fast. Startups need to keep in mind, however, that public relations shouldn’t be used to stretch the truth about numbers or traction just to secure investment. If founders aren’t transparent about the business or oversell their capabilities, both reporters and investors will see right through it.
Instead, public relations should be used to give potential investors a way to learn more about the company when they do a quick search online and create a sense of trust when they flip through a pitch deck. On average, five to seven brand impressions are necessary before someone will remember a brand. By securing consistent media coverage in relevant publications, startups can ensure that more people, including investors, will remember them.