About 10 years ago, a news feature I had worked long and hard at getting into a Sunday newspaper for a local pioneering fintech/regtech firm was suddenly pulled at the very last minute - by the client, as the company in question was at the delicate final stages of being bought over by a big international player.
As it so happened, Ciaran Connell - a friend of mine who was in the middle of his seed funding round for Decawave, the (now very successful) fabless semiconductor firm he had founded with Michael McLaughlin - was at my house for dinner the very evening it was pulled, so over dinner, we were able to quickly pull together a good pitch for a news feature about his new company and their ground-breaking technology to offer to the technology editor as a good replacement story, as the newspaper was right at its print deadline.
Happily, the editor went for it, and the feature on the new semiconductor firm duly appeared the following Sunday. The effect was startling – Ciaran told me afterwards that his appointment diary for the week following the feature quickly filled with potential investors eager to hear more. Some even rang me! Many went on to invest, and are still with Decawave today, and it continues to go from strength to strength.
Reading through a recent NDRC report entitled “The Start Up Psyche” it is striking the importance that today's Irish start up CEOs place on PR, rating it very highly as a key skill in which they believe training is most needed across pre-seed, seed and Series A stages of development. This is particularly true at the ‘seed’ stage: when NDRC asked entrepreneurs at the seed stage what skills they felt they required more training in to help scale up and grow their business, 46% replied PR/marketing, placing it at joint first with sales skills.
By the time entrepreneurs arrive at the seed funding stage, they have already recognised that for an enterprise to succeed, a myriad of audiences need to be addressed effectively and regularly, and that without it even a basic awareness of who you are and what you do is a very real problem which many encounter. By the seed stage, working in an ‘echo chamber’ is no longer good enough: actively reaching out to peers, potential investors, government start-up supports, potential customers and partners and to the skills pool in order to build a team
really does become a necessity.
Many of the marketing tools being offered today, like ‘inbound’ and ‘content’ will end up in an echo chamber unless the vital PR ingredient is in place: to pro-actively reach out. Identifying your key audience, and addressing them through credible targeted media are key to the success of any tech start up, as those faced with funding, and resourcing their tech start-ups in the NDRC report can attest.
(Pic: Love in a Mist)