As the UK tech sector establishes itself as Europe’s leading tech ecosystem, it becomes the US and China’s main competitor, ranking third globally. The fast-growing market raised near-record levels of investment in 2022 standing at £24bn. With trends such as AI, the Metaverse, green technology and digital banking dominating the tech landscape, demand continues to increase. This rapid pace of technological change presents emerging companies with significant opportunities and obstacles. It is for this reason that having a strong communications strategy is more important than ever.
So, how can you communicate a technology startup’s story and stand out from the crowd? A PR campaign is an effective way of raising awareness and attracting interest from stakeholders and investment from VCs. However, successful strategies are those which are flexible and able to capitalize on unfolding market trends. Here are our top tips, with examples from our own work, to bear in mind.
Tips to successfully communicate your startup’s brand message
Take a step back to lay down the foundations
Before creating a communications strategy, the first step is to understand where you want your business to be heading. What are your objectives? And what do you want to achieve? These may include generating brand awareness, stimulating demand, improving reputation, or reaching investors and potential partners. Use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) acronym to set attainable and measurable objectives. As a startup, it can be tempting to focus exclusively on securing customers and investors and not spend much time in this step but these foundations will be critical for sustainable growth.
Depending on your product, service and stage of growth your business’ audiences and stakeholders will vary and this will inform your PR strategy. If you are looking to reach an audience of potential investors, the media that they are consuming will be entirely different compared to if you are seeking to raise awareness of a consumer-facing product. A good tech PR agency will be able to provide strategic guidance on which these publications are and the sorts of stories that will help you secure coverage.
Keep tabs on your competitors
Map out who your biggest competitors are. One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to PR is focusing too much on what your company is doing. The reality is that there are plenty of opportunities to learn from what your competitors are doing, including their approach to marketing and PR, and the brand values they seek to promote. Analyse how they position themselves in the media, what they do that’s successful and how they communicate to their audience. This will also allow you to identify potential gaps in the market that you could potentially capitalize on.
Competitive analysis can help you identify and evaluate specific strengths, weaknesses and strategies being leveraged by key players within the media. This will give you deeper insight into your target audience, stakeholders and media outlets you should be targeting and what content resonates best.
Nail your brand positioning
To create a lasting media impact, your technology business needs to avoid being seen as “just another tech startup”. Take a step back and determine what the three values or themes are that define your product or service. How do these values resonate with the press? With the technology sector being incredibly crowded, it is important to have this fine-tuned. You need to educate both your customers and investors about your values, what makes your brand different and how it is changing the industry for the better.
With e-mobility startup Lime Bikes, we wanted to raise awareness about their UK launch and challenge competitors in the shared mobility space. Through an approach to reach both consumers and policy-makers, we secured coverage in titles across key verticals around the launch. We also secured speaking opportunities giving their team a platform to educate stakeholders about the benefits of their solutions. This tactic established them as experts, communicated their values and outlined what made their product different.
Take a holistic approach
PR, social media, SEO, public affairs, brand positioning – the different channels of communication regularly overlap. A solid omni-channel approach ensures that the right content is delivered to the right audience. So, how can you ensure these channels work together to deliver an effective comms strategy? For example, using influencers on social media can serve as an effective channel to generate awareness for stakeholders at the top of your marketing funnel. It is important that these top-of-funnel strategies are also supported by more conversion-led tactics such as PPC. Developing consistent and well-informed content is critical across the entire marketing funnel.
When launching startup StepLadder’s collaborative peer-to-peer deposit-raising platform, we initially wanted to create buzz around this launch by increasing awareness. We also wanted to educate their traditionally skeptical market and position them as experts in their industry. To achieve maximum exposure we secured several features in top tier media outlets that were then amplified further across social media.
Think beyond your product or service offering
So many companies are at risk of falling into an echo chamber, simply talking about their product and service. But what about the trends that are affecting their industry and customers? This is where opinion-led PR is important. It shows that the brand is aware of pressing issues and has a strong opinion on them. You can get ahead of the competition by securing commentary opportunities for your executives through a well-informed and interesting opinion. Ensure that you offer a new opinion so that your brand owns the conversation.
International payment service provider ECOMMPAY came to us wanting to raise their profile in the UK. We focused on doing that by positioning them as a leading fintech ecosystem that’s helping to grow merchants’ businesses. Through thought leadership and commentary in national and trade media titles and news hijacking, we positioned them as payment experts commenting on those broader payment and financial issues that are on the minds of their customers. These topics included Buy Now, Pay Later, and payment options available to businesses seeking to engage in new markets