Even if you’re among the lucky few who haven’t taken a direct hit from the COVID-19 recession, you’re likely tightening your belt in anticipation of tough times ahead. When you’re making decisions about what to cut, you’ll likely be tempted to ax PR. In most cases, that’s a big mistake. That last thing you want right now is for your brand to go dark.
Here are a few obvious reasons why tech startups should still do PR during the coronavirus.
You need to prove that you’re relevant post-COVID
The world has changed in the last few months since the arrival of the coronavirus, even for tech startups. Whatever your product is, it’s important to show prospective customers and investors that you have adapted to the new world. If there are reasons that people may doubt that your offering adds value in the post-COVID world, it’s critical that you prove that your offering remains relevant.
Even if your business is largely unchanged by COVID, showing the world how you are responding to the crisis can go a long way in building trust in your brand. People are feeling anxious and isolated and they’re eager to see examples of companies (large and small) stepping up, whether that’s using their expertise or product to help address the crisis or simply by putting in place measures to keep employees and customers safe.
Screen time is up
Even if the world begins to open up in the coming months, people will continue to spend a higher-than-average amount of time in front of screens, watching TV, reading the news and connecting with friends on Zoom. There are more eyeballs up for grabs than ever before. According to Statista, the online statistics portal for all kinds of data, global news media consumption has risen by 36% since the arrival of the coronavirus. Translation? Winning media coverage in trade, tech and general business news outlets can get your story in front of the right audience faster and more efficiently than any email marketing or ABM campaign possibly can.
PR reinforces your digital strategy
PR today is used by many successful startups as part of a multi-faceted marketing strategy. Gaining media coverage not only builds brand awareness and trust among target audiences, it also plays an integral role in your search engine optimization activities. That’s because Google and other search engines like to see a wide variety of relevant backlinks to your website. The more popular the websites that backlink to yours, the higher your search engine ranking.
Media outlets typically have some of the highest domain authority rankings on the Internet. Take the example of TechCrunch. According to web analytics provider SimilarWeb, the popular tech news outlet received in excess of 18 million unique visitors in April of 2020. Wired had nearly 24 million unique visitors for the same month. Both have seen a double digit spike in online visitors since the coronavirus arrived, and that looks to continue for some time.
Now, imagine what getting a ‘vote of confidence‘ in the form of a backlink from a website with 15 – 24 million monthly visitors would do for your company’s search engine optimization strategy.
Investors are paying attention
PR isn’t just about reaching end-users. It’s also about proving yourself to prospective investors. The downturn has certainly made the competition for venture capital even fiercer, but positive press can be crucial in catching the attention of potential backers. Investors are narrowing their focus on companies that appear well-positioned to weather the storm: now is the time to make the case for why you’re a good bet.
Good PR now is useful even among investors who may be temporarily keeping their money on the sidelines. They may not be in a position to spend now, but they are no doubt still keeping track of companies that they might like to support when the economy begins to recover.
If not now, when?
As people have adapted to this new reality, they’ve begun to make room in their minds for topics besides the coronavirus. Even if their purchasing power has declined, individuals are not going to stop buying. They may just become more selective in their purchases. The same is true for businesses.
The good news is that media coverage is still one of the most effective ways to excite and motivate buyers to learn more about your product and company. At a time when most businesses are experiencing a drop in demand, you need every resource available to keep the top of your sales funnel from running empty.
What’s more, if you’re not out there making a case for your offering now, you’re only going to lose ground to your competitors. A competitive disadvantage like that will be hard to recover from long after the coronavirus crisis is over. The tech startups that learn to thrive in the leanest of times will be in the best position to dominate the market once the better times return.