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We’d like to introduce one of our guest bloggers and partners, Jason Sprenger of Game Changer Communications. Jason started the full-service PR/communications agency in September 2012, bringing his expertise and strategic services to the tech and B2B arenas. His topic for today is about the importance of strategic communications for startups and small business. Check it out.

Profit, Product and … PR

Five years ago, a high-tech company had a game-changing piece of technology with an increasing market share. It had a few hundred talented, cohesive employees. It was privately held by VC firms and closed enough deals to earn a nice profit, enabling the VCs to keep sinking more money in R&D to keep the product ahead of the market. Yet the company still wasn’t able to take the next steps to go public or be acquired, failing to generate a return for the VCs who owned it. It ultimately found itself forced to liquidate assets and do whatever else it could to generate cash, so the VCs could salvage whatever it could from their failed investment. Employees who helped build the company and were rewarded with stock options saw the value of those options reduced to virtually nothing.

This is a hypothetical story, but it’s based very closely on a real-world one I lived earlier in my career. And I’m sure that if you really looked around, you’d find more stories like this than you bargained for.

In my experience, executives of most any kind of company in any industry spend their time on two essential pursuits: building the best possible product or solution, and making the company as profitable as possible. It’s these two factors that they deem to have the most impact on their company’s ability to grow and stay viable – and ultimately go public, sell or reach some major liquidity event. It’s hard to argue with their logic, especially because the marketplace, their investors, their customers and most everyone else judges them primarily on their success in these two areas.

Yet…my experience has shown that there’s a third factor just as critical to ultimate business success as those other two. Executives in the above story told me it’s the factor that held them back from achieving their full potential. And since then, it’s been the universal common thread that I’ve seen companies that reach their goals integrate into the mix from the beginning and continue to invest in – from startups to Fortune 1000 companies, B2B to B2C, public to private, tech to retail and beyond.

It’s called public relations…otherwise known as strategic communications.

The company in the situation above, as its executives later told me, didn’t have the right message for the right audience at the right time. Instead, the messages they did use didn’t resonate. They had a product that offered significant value, but they couldn’t express that value to a target audience in a way that compelled them to take a purchase action. Prospects didn’t feel close enough to the company emotionally, or know enough about it on the whole, to choose it over competitors. They were doing some media and analyst relations, but it wasn’t the right customized mix. They didn’t have the particular pieces of content developed that could create demand in the market and help the sales force close deals.

The common thread here: all of these are communications-based issues.

Public relations, quite simply, is the discipline of strategically advancing an organization to achieve its goals using communications. It ties directly to sales and marketing, and goes far, far beyond the crisis and media-driven worlds that most people associate with it. Done properly, PR creates demand and drives leads. It creates an environment in which it’s easier to close deals. It makes customers and other audiences loyal to your company, and ambassadors of your brand. It makes you and your colleagues the trusted thought leaders in your industry. It helps executives make good business decisions and avoid bad ones. It generates a real, measurable ROI for businesses, and fuels growth. And much more.

Public relations, quite simply, is the discipline of strategically advancing an organization to achieve its goals using communications. Click To Tweet

It ties directly to sales and marketing, and goes far, far beyond the crisis and media-driven worlds that most people associate with it. Done properly, PR creates demand and drives leads. It creates an environment in which it’s easier to close deals. It makes customers and other audiences loyal to your company, and ambassadors of your brand. It makes you and your colleagues the trusted thought leaders in your industry. It helps executives make good business decisions and avoid bad ones. It generates a real, measurable ROI for businesses, and fuels growth. And much more.

I’m incredibly passionate about PR, because I’ve seen it work for the myriad of organizations I’ve worked with through the course of my career. I’d love to see it work for you too, through a custom program tailor-made for your unique goals, market situation, lifecycle stage, etc. Don’t hesitate to write me at [email protected] or call at 612-327-1886 if you have any questions or would like to talk more.