Reputation building is crucial for startups. How do you even begin to build your new company’s reputation and personal profile?
Leaving a comfortable job at a large multinational to found a startup is a daunting task. You’re back at square one, just you and your idea. And you no longer have the reputation and resource cover of a big corporate brand.
I was recently in London to meet with early-stage companies looking to spread their wings across mainland Europe and I met someone in exactly this position. She had left a senior role at a large multinational to found a tech startup after 15 years, but she soon found her calls to former colleagues went unreturned, emails unanswered. As she puts it:
“I was just used to people knowing the company, who I was, and taking my calls. Once I left my position to set up my own company, I just didn’t have the same clout anymore. It was just me and my idea. I didn’t take into account that the weight of the brand wouldn’t transfer before I left.”
Reputation Management vs Reputation Building
Traditional reputation management is no longer enough when you’re sitting outside of an established brand. Instead, the more proactive discipline of reputation building becomes key. But it can be a real challenge to switch to this new mode of thinking for those moving from corporate marketing or corporate pr to startup pr.
What is Reputation Building for startups?
Done properly, reputation building will allow you to build your influence by staying on top of your company’s growth narrative within the media. It can be part of wider investor relations, marketing or sales strategy. It can smoothen the sales process by removing credibility barriers and it can help you to build and control the narrative surrounding your company.
Consistency is key to Startup PR
Startup pr needs to be consistent. Things move fast in the digital age and good news today with no follow-up story leaves a gap in your company’s growth story. Potential buyers or investors should not be left to speculate; it’s up to your company to fill in the gaps. A company’s messaging will either be seen as always on, or always off. A good Reputation Building strategy will keep you switched on.
Reputation building is a long term investment. Not a quick win. The investor Warren Buffett once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It’s good advice. If you expect your startup to grow, start building your reputation now.
Managing Director at ClearStory International
James McCann is CEO of ClearStory International, a Dublin based international tech PR agency working exclusively with early-stage startups from around the world. Before establishing ClearStory, James was a former PR Campaign Manager with Web Summit, responsible for attracting top tier media to the company’s events across Dublin, Lisbon, Bangalore and Hong Kong. He currently lectures on Digital PR to final year students at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.