Using PR to secure investment

Being in Bristol we’re in the heart of one of the UK’s fastest growing tech hubs and this means at any one time there is a plethora of start-up and scale up firms at various stages of commercial growth looking for investment.

The 2019 Tech Nation Report revealed investment in AI grew sixfold from 2014 – 18 and scaleup tech investment was two and a half times higher in 2018 than expected based on the relative size of the UK economy.

An increasingly consistent brief we receive is for communications and PR support specifically to support funding rounds.

Usually from second round funding and beyond, where a business will have a proven concept, likely to have hit initial metrics and be looking to enter the scale up phase of growth requiring staff, premises and infrastructure to get to the next growth stage.

It’s at this stage where credibility, reputation and profile really play a key role in standing out from other businesses all vying for investor attention.

The role for PR

The value of PR impact has grown in the digital age. It’s no longer a nice to have or a resource which only large and established companies can tap into.

Social media channels provide direct audience communication tools and this combined with the burgeoning freelance economy has led to a buyers’ market when it comes to choosing who to work with and entrust your firm’s reputation to.

However, buyer beware, done well PR and specifically media relations and social media management is only effective if it’s linked to commercial targets.

Your five-point plan

Failure to plan your PR strategy will likely produce results which don’t demonstrate tangible impact and at best may produce some vanity coverage which may or may not reflect the business accurately.

While the planning phase does not need to last long, there are a few vital elements which once in place will enhance the outcomes and support the investment objectives:

  1. Key messages – agreeing company descriptors, tone of voice, defining your business purpose and being able to put this into words alongside a clear commercial vision is vital to have in place before you embark on external communications. But your messages must be easy to understand by non-tech audiences, be jargon free (not all investors are conversant in the latest technology so you must speak their language) and importantly focused on the impact and benefits of your product or service
  2. Competitor and market analysis – do you know what other people are doing? Reviewing the communications activity of the market you’re in periodically from a communications perspective often produces interesting results which may lead to original ideas for your positioning. Carefully consider how you can truly differentiate yourself – this is an attractive proposition for an investor
  3. Media strategy – if you want to reach investors you need to target where they are likely to see you – sounds straightforward? You’d be surprised how often poor targeting occurs our advice is always to break your media sectors into tier one and tier two (high priority titles are likely much harder to gain coverage in but will be higher value)
  4. Target setting – be realistic. Its quality not quantity. Particularly when raising your profile with an investor audience. Agree what success looks like from the outset and have clear expectations for your marketing or comms team – whether internal or external
  5. Channel planning – media is one channel which we’ve covered but it should never be in isolation of your other communications channels. Your owned channels – specifically, website and social media need to convey the same content being used for your media strategy. CRM and outbound sales tools should also be using content and coverage from your media campaigns.