PR Tactics for the Introverted Entrepreneur For the shy or introverted founder or CEO, the bad news is that your public relations (PR) strategy is a non-negotiable one. The good news is that it is perfectly possible to curate this successfully.
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You started your business to be able to solve an existing market or industry problem or pursue a passion- less so to become a company spokesperson or to put yourself front and center of any marketing or public relations activity. For some, this can be something they thrive on, but for many entrepreneurs, the idea of shining the spotlight on themselves personally can feel unnecessary and uncomfortable.
For the shy or introverted founder or CEO, the bad news is that your public relations (PR) strategy is a non-negotiable one. The good news is that it is perfectly possible to curate this successfully, and in a way that still amplifies key objectives for your brand or service, whilst keeping you within your natural comfort zone. Extroverts can often get sidetracked by the validation that PR brings. Introverted tendencies can often be a superpower in a calm and measured way- perfect for a positive communications strategy.
Solid PR strategies mean that a positive and credible message about your business or brand are shared with not just potential consumers, but also stakeholders, investors, and future employees. People truly do buy people, and that includes utilizing your own personality, experience, and knowledge to grow your business.
It's a mindset game.
PR can feel inauthentic or fake to those not used to putting themselves forward. Public speaking and profiling can feel painful. We need to understand why it's important for the overarching mission and vision of what you are trying to achieve first and foremost- the endgame. Once you recognize the "why" of what you need to or are being asked to do, you will instantly feel more at ease. As a startup founder, for example, or CEO, you really will be at the forefront of telling the story about your business, and it's vital that you understand why this will be key to sharing your message and objectives, as well as gaining industry and consumer trust and buy-in- and you are in charge of this reframe.
Take it slow.
A good PR strategy does not need to be over-complicated. With a focus on quality over quantity, you can utilize the core objectives in a way that suits you better. Any brand-new entity or pivot is going to have to work hard to achieve market visibility. It is never a case of launching one day and the cover of Time the next, so don't panic. That could well be the end goal, but in the meantime, you have your own time to craft messaging, your own profile, and that of the company, and identifying your key messages, and the outlets and platforms that suit your business best. This approach also means that you can build sustainable relationships that I know will be important to any introverted entrepreneur. Relevance is key here, and you will not feel like you are wasting time or energy on activities that you do not have.
About that comfort zone...
It's not going to be possible to stay invisible, although the idea of "the masked entrepreneur" sounds like a great origin story, it really is a case of fighting the fear, and doing it anyway. In business, it is always the case that we will have to tackle elements that we do not feel like experts in, but we have to embrace it to get the job done. The first time for anything will always feel difficult, and then it becomes easier with practice. You might prefer the opportunity to communicate via opinion editorials or expert comment first, rather than in front of a camera or a microphone, but being on the radio, a podcast guest, or on television is an opportunity that will come knocking for you.
Related: Seven Steps For PR Professionals To Take In Times Of Crisis
Practice versus perfection.
Anyone, however extroverted, will always need preparation time and practice, and this in itself comes second nature to an introvert, but it doesn't mean panic! When faced with media opportunities that mean you have to leave your desk, media training and expert input can really help. You should have messaging and readymade statements nailed. You can consider potential questions and issues, and prepare well in advance for these, even if not provided by an outlet or an interviewer. The idea of "winging it" will be anathema to you, and really so it should be. Even if you are not faced with the questions you have prepared, your own practice should leave you confident in sharing the story with people, as you are mentally ready for them, and you have absorbed the right kind of information. There is no such thing as perfection- everything is a learning opportunity.
Keep it business-like.
It will help to understand that all of your PR activities are for the greater good- the reason you started the business. It seems contradictory if a strategy is focused on yourself as the founder, but this is not about your private life or inner desires. With keeping the business focus first, you can weave your own story through it. This part is important, because in 2023, your own profile or personal brand, if you will, is a vital component to any modern comms. This is about leadership and vision, and you can extricate your shy self from this when you realize that it is to be done with a focus on growing visibility and brand trust for everyone involved.
Start with small steps.
Whilst the world seems to be obsessed with networking, live events (webinars, podcasts and the like), let alone standing on a stage, it can feel really overwhelming. There are plenty of opportunities for these should you wish, but remember that there are still other ways to start. People may be telling you that you have to be constantly "front and center," especially on social media, but it's simply not the case, and it will only lead to ongoing frustration with PR as a whole, which is not what we want. Many journalists and outlets are looking purely for expert commentary, insightful op-eds, and thought leadership pieces. This is easier to own when you start to curate your own LinkedIn profile, for example, and it is a great place to start. Interviews and opportunities are often conducted via email- the media simply do not have time for many face-to-face interviews, so you can breathe a sigh of relief there. If it's a case of starting small, then at least start.
Get help when and where you can.
You do not have to be the company spokesperson, but you will need one. Maybe you have a co-founder or trusted leader within your business who is more comfortable with PR activity, or even simply an employee. Relinquishing PR activities to someone else within your organization could be the way to go. A solid profile, social media status, up-to-date imagery and headshots are all tools in the PR kit you should have ready to go, on request, even if it is someone else attending an event, or giving a soundbite. If you want expert media training, there are people who can provide that. If you are simply too busy running the business to even look at PR opportunities, then engage an agency or freelancer to do it on your behalf, but remember, these people cannot do the interview for you, and a solid relationship there requires work at your end too.