“If you were sitting in front of my investors right now, what would you tell them?” This was the question a brilliant startup founder asked me as we discussed her PR objectives for 2021. If your shareholders have asked a similar question, here’s how to convince your board to spend on PR.
How much does PR cost? Her question was a great reminder of the constant struggle founders have with their investors and board. Founders want to maximize their exposure to maximize client acquisition and shareholders, rightfully, want to watch the budget. It’s a healthy struggle, but so often, founders communicate PR efforts as a cost, not an investment.
Tell Your Board They’re Leaving Money on the Table
If a founder can’t get public attention for their brand, the hard truth is the company will die. No one wants that. Therefore, in the words of my business coach, Jeff Garrison, don’t make the conversation about cost, keep the conversation focused on your investment into your goals.
Make the discussion about tangible deliverables and a timeline to achieve those goals. Ask your PR folks to be clear on the cost of achieving those deliverables and the expected timeline. When you have that information, you can tell your board, “to achieve X revenue this year, we will need X new clients. Our PR efforts to achieve this goal will be $100,000k”.
Instead of just discussing cost, you’re discussing investment into the company’s future. Your board can focus on a potential 1.9 million dollar loss if you don’t take the proper steps.
They can still push back and offer alternatives, question the firm choice, or deliverables, but that’s a good conversation. You want the conversation focusing on deliverables and concrete targets, not just cost.
But what if your company and product is so cool, it doesn’t need PR? What if you don’t need to convince your board to spend on PR?
But We Built A Better Mousetrap
If you don’t know yet, let me break this to you simply: The best idea doesn’t win. You may believe your product will speak for itself. You’re wrong.
In David Burkus‘ brilliant 1st book, The Myths of Creativity, he breaks down the toxic myth that many companies, founders, and boards buy into: the mousetrap myth.
The saying goes, if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. The idea is this: the better idea always wins and is apparent to the world. Burkus explains why this thinking is severely flawed. If you fail to convince your board to spend on PR, your fate could come soon.
David Burkus Discusses The Mousetrap Myth
The Better Communicator Wins
Consider one of the most epic companies of all time, Apple. Their first computer would have never seen the light of day if left only to its original creator. No, not Steve Jobs—Steve Wozniak. Jobs was not the inventor of the original Macintosh. He was the communicator responsible for connecting the technology to the masses.
Jobs’ ability to get press and listen to consumers was second to none. Yes, he was a great tech CEO and iconic leader, but he was also a PR and marketing mastermind. For anyone who has watched a Steve Jobs Apple keynote, they know his style was unique and captivating.
Exceptions To The Rule
You may be thinking of an exception to my rule. And yes, some companies didn’t spend a penny on PR and got massive coverage. It’s usually for two reasons:
- Some lucky founders and startup folks have luxury contacts and don’t fully understand the head start that provides. If Elon Musk is your cousin, or Mark Cuban is your sister-in-law’s first cousin. That person IS your PR play and can give you major press exposure.
- Simply put, they got lucky. A journalist picked up on what they were doing via a patent filing or blip and did the research.
For those of us who don’t want to rely on luck, however, a more direct approach is required.
If you need to convince your board to spend on PR or perhaps you’re a shareholder, know this: There’s going to be a lot of competition in the pending entrepreneurial boom. If you aren’t standing out, you’re just part of the noise. You can also download my free PDF to get more press in just 10 days. Honestly, that will get you pretty far.