Having already worn many hats at what I still like to think is a young age, I took a less traditional path into PR. I worked in the fashion industry as a runway and print model directly after high school. The lessons learned from that short but extremely fast-paced year and a half taught me a lot. I used the money made from modeling to earn two business majors and two minors at The University of New Hampshire in just three years (GO WILDCATS!). Immediately after graduation, I landed a great opportunity at a seed-stage venture capital fund in Harvard Square. After three years with a rapidly increasing portfolio of investments in over 150 fast growth startups, I decided to hone in on a smaller amount of companies and truly focus on marketing and branding.
As a new addition to the Precision Group at Matter Communications, I will be working in a smaller division within the greater PR company. The accounts will be highly customized and incredibly focused (see a trend?) to cater to companies with very specific needs.
Lessons learned from seed-stage VC that can be applicable to highly focused PR and marketing:
1. Every company has a story. Guess what? They’re compelling too! How an idea can evolve from a name -> a logo -> a product/ offering -> a brand is downright cool. Great storytellers create meaning in words and great PR professionals create meaning in a brand. The emotional connection that we have to a brand allows for the diversification of a brand to rise above the noise of the market. Tell THAT story!
2. Think like an entrepreneur. Once you meet a founder or person in charge of a company, you immediately feel their addictive passion and you’ll want to spread the news. Wanting to spread passion and excitement for an idea is the reason I transitioned into PR and marketing from Venture Capital. I was meeting hundreds of entrepreneurs who had real ideas put into motion, with real traction. Who doesn’t want to hear about that next really cool app; the company revolutionizing (oh, no I used 1 of the 20 words and phrases that will doom your pitch, but if the shoe fits…) the industry; or the company pivoting to make their initial concept that much better after realizing a change was necessary? It’s inspirational because entrepreneurs themselves are inspirational.
3. Understand the vision. This one is important for both the PR professional and the company to understand. There are times when short-term/ long-term goals are not clearly defined and this can get dangerous. It is critical to clearly define the ultimate goal so that the PR professional can cater their strategy to produce results for a business. This is a team effort though; if I believe that importance should be placed on specific PR approaches that differ from the founder’s vision, a discussion needs to take place to align the team’s goal. Ultimately, we are all working together to promote a brand and business that we all care about, but vision is key.
4. Stand out from the noise.
It’s not enough to be a great company. You have to diversify yourself within a VERY noisy market. Thinking outside the box and creating a very specific and original PR campaign is the difference that makes a company stand out from their competitors.
5. Those who can’t do, teach: Leverage your natural skills. I have always found myself saying “wow, why didn’t I think of that?” I have such an admiration for entrepreneurs and teams of people who come together to solve a problem and make life easier for the rest of us. Incessant hunger for new ideas and the need to spread the word is in my DNA. I was always that friend who would want to be the first to introduce others to that new awesome song, that interesting news article, or that cool new app… You get the point, I like sharing what I find and see. Now, I get to use both traditional and social media to raise awareness for a brand, producing measurable business results for my clients.
6. Be industry Agnostic. Whether the company is B2B/ B2C, product/ service oriented, or in the high-tech, healthcare, travel, retail, legal, or education industry it deserves brand recognition and management. The challenge is to accurately identify the right audience and tools to leverage for that brand to flourish.
My previous employment in a VC fund helped me realize that the seed-stage (newer to the market) companies needed a comprehensive introduction to the public through focused media strategies. If I can spread the passion and interest in cool companies on a continual basis, I’ve done my job.