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Indian startups have been making their presence felt globally for decades now. With a
burgeoning under-30 population and major startup hubs like Bangalore and Hyderabad, there’s
no shortage of opportunities for those with big dreams and the grit to turn them into reality.
While their products are excellent, many startups fall behind on the brand-building front, a
crucial investment if they are to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. And while
marketing strategies address this to a large extent, they usually require considerable
investment before they start reaping returns – which is why so many promising startups end up
fading away before they ever truly begin.

This is where public relations come in.

Startup PR: a multilayered asset

The role of PR has evolved over the years. Earlier, it was mostly about media placements –
today, it is an all-encompassing communications approach that covers visibility, thought
leadership, brand positioning, brand reputation, product messaging and more. The credibility
that good PR offers has no equal – the more media coverage a startup gets on reputed
platforms, the likelier the audiences will be to trust it.

Today, no customer will buy from a brand without extensively researching it online first. Having
a strong digital footprint is a big part of what makes a brand’s reputation, which is where the
power of good press comes in. If a startup enjoys positive press visibility, the public is instantly
inclined in its favour – if multiple media outlets feature that startup, the public is almost certain
to trust it with their money. This is of particular relevance in the funding context, as investors
are likelier to choose startups that have a strong online presence and positive mentions in
media outlets. Another factor that comes into play here is thought leadership – if startup
founders can get nuanced, informative pieces attributed to them in business magazines or
industry publications, they gain a reputation as knowledge authorities and earn the trust of
consumers, employees, and investors alike.

PR is also beneficial in the hiring and employer branding contexts. Firstly, any company that
enjoys good standing in the media will attract top performers from around the country.
Secondly, through focused messaging, PR can demonstrate exactly what sets the startup apart
as an innovator and as an employer. It is particularly important for startups to bring on board
the right talent to spearhead their growth – with a PR strategy, this becomes easier.

And finally, strong PR is a big contributor to SEO – the more coverage a startup brand has in
leading media outlets, the more searchable it is to potential customers and business partners.

How startups can make the most of PR

For startups building their PR strategy, a vital first step is to gain an understand of the media
landscape. India is a diverse country and different markets consume different kinds of media –
print dailies, online magazines, regional newspapers, English periodicals and so on. It is
therefore necessary to understand what their target audience’s preferences are, as well as the
dynamics of how those preferred media channel works, and accordingly frame the story to suit
that respective platform’s needs. Moreover, each channel has its own journalists, each with
their own preferences about the kinds of companies they want to cover. It’s vital to work with
the right journalist, not only to earn the media placement but also to tell the story the way it
deserves to be told. In this context, it’s ideal to work with an established PR agency that has a
network of journalist contacts across the country and knows where a startup like the one in
question would be best served.

Public relations is a powerful tool and an often-underestimated one. Even a single well-placed
media release can completely change the way the startup is perceived, and a consistent
pipeline of mentions and features will serve to keep the brand story alive in the public eye. By
partnering with a PR agency that understands its unique needs, a startup can give itself the best
opportunity to be recognised and remembered positively from day one. It is an investment,
certainly, but one that will reap manifold benefits as the startup expands and grows.