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Articles / practice / Successful start in public relations and business
22 March 2011
Successful start in public relations and business

        Starting with the reason that forced me to research the topic of startup companies, it has to be said that last year I was lucky to be a member of weekly study tour to Poland. One of the appointments was dedicated to meeting with top manager of so-called “startup" center for business innovations, called “incubators”.
        Such incubator for the first time was created in 1995 by American businessman B.Gross.
        The role of such incubators - is to put busi  ness ideas into reality, thus incubators are a venture investment models, their aim is accelerating the preparation and  fast project start on the market. “And who will take care of PR support and positioning of the startups in the market?” – the counter question came up as soon as it was related to my profession.
       Up to date such tendency is observed: the similar business incubators are appearing in Ukraine, but they don’t offer anything for startup-projects accept a small financial support. PR-support is absent as well. 
       About startup companies in business sphere and the role of PR in their positioning it is going to be said further. 
       Startup or startup company – a company with a short history of operating activities. Typically, such companies were created recently, are under development or research of perspective marketplaces. The term “startup” became popular at the time when a great number of commercial web sites was created and became primary distributed in the sphere of IT and Internet projects. Now we can absolutely use the word “startup” in all areas related to the new business projects opening.
        For example, in the past such corporations as Google, Apple, Paypal, Ryanair, and Facebook were beside startups.
        The founders of Google are two graduate students from the department of computer science at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In January 1996 they had begun collaboration on a search engine. After unsuccessful tries of making the most famous owners of developed portals interest with their invention Larry and Sergey decided to do on their own. Only in September 1998 the company Google Inc. was opened in Menlo Park (California). The office for Google’s staff of three people was located in the garage leased in their friend. At that time the site Google.com, still in beta version, has already served 10 000 searches per day.
Startup can be divided into 2 categories:
       - “From the scratch” (apartment/basement/garage) – the business is founded by individuals often with no initial capital and official registration. They can be based on the extraordinary business ideas. 
       - “Parent” (corporate etc.) – the existing structure starts a new activity. Often it’s a corporation or holding company opening a new business or changing/extending the scope of activity. The example of parent startups is also an existing company what deals like the investor/co-investor of a new or adjacent to an existing line of business.
In the latter case, usually on the initial promotion of the new structure there are some financial resources, in the first case there are no resources or they are too limited.
        Startups are building their business through innovation. Innovation can be global (worldwide) and local (in one country, region. In other countries this technology may not be innovative).
       An example of local innovation technology is the technology of scoring potential borrowers of the banks on the basis of their credit histories. For Ukraine this technology is innovative, and for other countries – the USA, for example – this is not an innovation. 
        After 2005 the term “startup” as a phenomenon drew attention of the American and British business press. Today books are publishing that aimed to set the reader on a quick and successful business start. One of those is a book “Startup” by Guy Kawasaki, published in 2011. Thus “startup” as a phenomenon is gaining momentum, which is a new milestone in the history of the concept. 
       The facts out of startups history of Publicity Creating clients (Ukraine). 
        In 1998 the company K-Trade appealed to the PR-agency requesting a new brand – computers “BRAVO” – start. In a year of PR-promotion the brand entered to the top ten brands on the computer market of Ukraine. 
        In 2001 the agency received the request for PR-promotion of distributor TM “Daikin” – at that time newly established company “Leacond”. In 2-3 years the company became one of the five market leaders of air conditioning. Now “Leacond” is a leader in its field (takes 50% market of TM “Daikin”). In addition, the company was and remains the leader in information field including periods of crisis in 2008 and 2010.
        Today in the market of compatible consumables is a well known brand ColorWay. Exclusive promotion of this Ukrainian brand started in 2007. The PR-promotion program included: articles, press releases, dealer and marketing conferences, press events, events for professionals and photo sessions of personnel and managers. And all this during the crisis and fall on the IT-market. And the most important there were an annual development of a new information model, the consulting service of company’s first persons, clear ideology of promotion on specific target groups of customers and partners.

         The role of PR in brand positioning on the stage of startup
Today, most so-called startup companies are trying to express themselves as widely as possible for attracting investors who would invest in their development. But at the initial stage of business some of them consider very risky the positioning and promotion through outsourcing involving professional specialized agencies - marketing, PR, consulting and other. 
         “The high-quality positioning, or simply - the degree of “recognition” at the market, is intended to encourage and direct to actions” - Guy Kawasaki says. “We can not make this recognition spinning around cash resources, market position and “management ego” of startup founder” - the author continues and notes that the new brand positioning should be: positive and customer-oriented, self explanatory and concrete, profile and inspiring, original and relevant in any time. 
         More specific recommendations concerning the role of PR in successful startups and optimal budgets gives Valery Kureiko, CEO of Publicity Creating: “We start with different budgets for promotion. In the crisis years of the company there are two groups of projects (according to the budget for promotion): 20-40 thousand dollars for 6-10 months, and 50-120 thousand dollars for half a year. This is enough to start working with TM and develop strategies, concepts, ideological line, the first event plus on-line and off-line activities”.

         What PR tools and techniques are most effective for startups?
Experts knows that in the case of limited resources, the first promotion effort should be Internet-PR. Indeed, today a few months is enough to fill the information Internet space with positive information about the new company, brand or service in various forms text, photos, video. New information fields can be created actually for free in the form of blogs or pages on social networks. However, for their constant support virtual teams of 1-5 people are need. But the most important thing is information model of content creation: what has to be written, how often and in what perspective? It’s impossible without participation of specialists. 
         A various interactive activities are also effective – starting with Web conferences and video interviews with top management (B2B) to contests and promotions on the Internet (B2C).
         If the new brand or new activity direction of the company have some marketing budget, the tools should be more “punchy” and visible. Here are the off-line PR activities (integrating with online), promotional sites for consumers and mix of public relations projects. Significantly, that nowadays traditional media channels are usually combined with the Internet, for instance, radio+Internet, press+Internet, TV+Internet. What about B2B market, the key activities are academic, business and recreational activities for partners (for dealers or representatives of retail chains), video content, publications in specialized media (in those markets where the media remain to be developed and influence the audience).
         During conversation Valery Kureiko described examples of successful creation, development and promotion of new brands in Ukraine, including the last 3 “crisis” years. 
         “Promotion of companies and brands from the scratch is one of the unique services of Publicity Creating”, - said Valeriy Kureiko. “We have a lot of examples, such as TM IREN BUKUR (Ukrainian “live” luxury cosmetics) that began to “spin” in the 2009 crisis year. All works were holding, in fact, only in Internet. Correctly presented and structured information helped the client in seeking partners and investors, facilitated negotiations with business partners. Generally, PR for the new business is a very important tool that helps to increase awareness and reputation, influence audiences and decision makers” – the head of Publicity Creating said. 
         So, we can evaluate that today PR promotion became more accessible: Internet and social networking make startups positioning at the B2B and B2C market much easier. Through the involvement of experienced PR-experts, owners and managers of business structures can reduce risks and get more powerful “weapons”" to win at the market.
         It can be predicted that since mid of 2011 (after new tax code will be wholly accepted in Ukraine) a new wave of development and promotion of new or expand the existing TM will begin. But for making “startups” successful you have to think through the communication program, and professional PR agency would help to ensure promotion of new brand. 
         It should be noted that in addition to startups in the usual sense, there are also “startups” in PR. This is when the existing for many years companies and brands, launching an active communication campaign to create or adjust their image and reputation. For such “PR-startups” post-crisis time is also very good. But that is the subject of another discussion ...

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