PR mistakes to avoid when opening a business

Being an entrepreneur is fraught with dangers lurking around every corner – a proverbial swamp always ready to stop you in your tracks. And yes, preparation can help owners to map out a proper course so that risks are minimized and that you come out safe, clean and whole on the other side. 

However, I’ve found that some owners pay much more attention to the operational side of things (think product/service development, hiring, location, sales, etc.) and oftentimes leave professional service decisions in the wings while they wait for a business to create some initial success so they can “afford it.” As a PR strategist, it is my belief that this way of thinking will leave owners in a death trap of quicksand, making their entire business model vulnerable to threats along the growth journey. So consider these three mistakes and associated tips as valuable as your compass and water bottle.

Underestimating the power of PR

There are many savvy entrepreneurs who are intimately familiar with the power of public relations. They understand the impact that tuned storytelling and connecting with audiences can create at any point in the evolution of a business. They invest in talent and efforts early on. But I also see the flip side of things – where owners really don’t have a grasp on what PR is or the value for their particular endeavor. I spend a lot of time with prospects helping them understand exactly what we do and why. If you fall into this category, it’s perfectly fine and expected. Just find a team who can easily verbalize what PR can do for you and how our discipline works within the fabric of your business. It’s every bit as important as a trusted accountant or legal team.

Not hiring the right partners 

I see this one all of the time. The owner entrusts public relations to a team member who has no background in our industry and expects that person (who probably has other operational duties) to create some semblance of success. That person may be the owner himself/herself. Or perhaps worst of all, they pay zero attention to PR and no one is responsible. Any of these scenarios will create major barriers to success at a point when it’s most crucial – business launch. My advice is simple – find experienced in-house staff to hire or a trusted agency (or both if possible) who can pay attention to every detail while you concentrate on leading your business. Would you like to argue an audit case against the IRS? Of course not. Leave PR to the pros.

Hitting the snooze button

Timing is everything in life, and in PR. I’ve seen businesses launch without a website or social media platforms. I’ve seen owners net a media story without a strong operational timeline for opening or a confirmed location. I’ve seen restaurateurs ignore mounting negative online reviews. And I’ve seen owners only reach out to me when things are stalled or there is a threat of business failure. Going public before your PR foundation is built is akin to opening a retail space without walls or finished floors or lighting. It just shouldn’t be done.Your launch is an incredible chance to shape your story and give your business a fighting chance of not only succeeding but becoming a leader in the industry. As your vision starts coalescing and your start-up funds take shape, think of PR early and often.