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Why PR is Essential for Start-ups and SMEs PR narratives can be extremely effective in highlighting the deep understanding and expertise of a brand owner/ promoter about the sector of business

By Anindita Gupta

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PR or Public Relations has been a quiet misunderstood concept for decades. Especially among entrepreneurs and the general public at large, who have considered Public Relations as a mere form of passing out "Information' about the business or institution, its promoters and its overall achievements or failings? What is interesting to understand, however, is the key role of drafting and positioning this "narrative' to the general public and stakeholders, that defines the silent prowess of PR.

In the recent years, however, PR has gained substantial importance. With the rise of the millennial consumers and entrepreneurs, business is transformed to a much larger, socially positive and community supportive endeavour and thus, its impact on the lives of the society plays a key role in shaping the brand image and character. Given the non-paid form of communication, PR has been successful in driving holistic and "community friendly' consumer connect narratives to indirectly influence consumer behaviour and drive brand loyalty. Further PR strongly works through "conversations' with influencers to build a positive and trustworthy narrative, which is not directly linked to commercial gains like advertising, making it more trustworthy and open to acceptance.

Given the growing significance and power of public relations, listed here are the key benefits of adopting this form of brand building for entrepreneurs and start up's:

Highlight the Need

With the rise in innovative enterprises, the need for a particular service/ product offering is best described through a holistic communication campaign. PR plays a crucial role in starting a conversation around the innovation or service, highlighting the various aspects and its larger impact on the consumers and community. PR also helps create a favourable market condition for the product/service to be accepted with an open and welcoming mind. For eg.: Through a series of trend articles and participation in industry stories, an "art on subscription', start-ups can leverage PR extensively to educate the potential stakeholders about the changing trends in the consumer pattern and how art on subscription can be economical and effective to improve work environment, thus creating a positive need for the service.

Establish Brand Superiority

PR narratives can be extremely effective in highlighting the deep understanding and expertise of a brand owner/ promoter about the sector of business. Through well-drafted opinions published on strategic media platforms, PR can help form a positive public opinion of the brand's superior understanding and sectoral expertise, thus establishing it as an "intelligent' brand, offering products/solutions that are relevant and superior. For eg., A reaction to the budget or key policy change can be an excellent PR opportunity for a brand to talk about the various internal and external factors impacting the sector and share recommendations and insights on the possible outcome of the policy on the consumer and the industry

Create Thought Leadership

PR is an effective tool when it comes to shaping opinions, for both internal as well as external stakeholders. Through insightful and visionary opinion pieces and speaker opportunities at select industry platforms, PR can help create a credible and respectful image for the brand leadership team – CEO/MD/ Founder entrepreneur, thus establishing them as innovators and visionaries, beyond the realm of their individual business. This is also effective in creating a positive image amongst employees and investors as well as among external stakeholders, potential PE Funding partners, critics and consumers. For eg.: participation in a panel discussion at industry/ trade platforms, opinion pieces in trade and business media and strategic profiling opportunities can all lead to the creation of a revered and respected thought leader.

Build Brand Loyalty

Lastly, creating a strong and credible brand image through strategic and consistent PR outreach across select media platforms can eventually help build strong brand loyalty. The new developments related to products, innovations, community outreach and CSR initiatives as well as business news related to expansion plans or new partnerships can all be extensively utilised to further generate brand loyalty. Highlighting the business and personal attributes of the promoters can further help give a human face to the business, creating a strong consumer connect. For eg.: A brand funded white paper research on the state of child deaths due to faecal contamination, when effectively leveraged through PR, can go a long way in establishing a sanitation brands "humane' side, thus helping to gain consumer loyalty.

Conclusion:

PR or Public Relations, in the recent years, has outgrown itself to encompass the larger role of "building brands' that communicate constantly and on multiple levels and platforms to the entire universe of stakeholders – internal: from employees, vendors, partners, investors to external: consumers, influencers, industry leaders, potential investors and even policymakers. It is one of the most crucial communication tools for brands to help them maintain a consistent communication with their stakeholders and to gauge the feedback and improvise.

Anindita Gupta

Co-founder, Scenic Communication

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