5 key pieces of advice for high-growth tech companies from an experienced PR strategist

You can’t build a high-growth tech company without implementing a proper PR strategy. You may be able to do without PR in your startup’s early stages, but if you want to play with the big boys, you need to have a plan when it comes to building your reputation. The tech environment is highly competitive, extremely dynamic and requires an understanding of its inner workings and unwritten laws. So we wanted to provide the context for a meaningful talk on the matter at How to Web Conference 2014.

Colette is the founder of Ballou PR, a European communications and strategy agency that focuses on high-growth technology and internet companies. The Ballou PR team has had a string of well-documented client success stories including managing the PR strategy for the exit of Musiwave for $100M+, the entry of Facebook and Pinterest in France, the entry of Eventbrite into Europe, as well as successful campaigns for AOL Networks, Evernote, GoEuro, Lakestar, Infectious Media, Seatwave, TechCrunch Disrupt, TransferWise, WhatsApp, White Star Capital and Zendesk. Colette’s 20 years of experience allows her insight into how technology companies can approach their global audiences. She is also an active part of the European startup community, speaking at industry events and mentoring startups through various programs, such as Seedcamp, TechStars and 500 Startups.

So what is Colette’s best advice for high-growth companies? It all boils down to 5 key pieces of advice:

1. Stop wasting people’s time

Anyone who asks me to meet “just to connect” or “to pick (my) brain” has already lost the battle and likely won’t get the meeting. Have a specific, clearly-stated purpose, and make the RDV 30 minutes if possible.

2. Ask for introductions effectively

I’ll introduce you to someone I know if I know you and/or if it’s going to be of interest to them. Here’s how to make it likely that I do so (I follow this strictly).

3. Specifically – investor introductions

Do the work upfront. Don’t ask me to identify investors for you, or to write the pitch email. Guidelines.

4. Manage/lead effectively

Short-sighted leaders prevent others from taking ownership by clinging to authority. Get out of the way. Here are some great tips for delegating/getting things off your plate.

5. Make the most of conferences

They can be great for networking if you know how to work them. My tips on making the most of conferences: “Hold on, who are you again?“.

The importance of reputation

What do people need to know about PR that they don’t?

First, the ROI of PR doesn’t show up in a calculation that says 5K EUR/month = X-thousands inches of press. It doesn’t work that way, and if you can’t accept that, then PR isn’t for you.

Second, the right time for a startup to seek professional PR varies for every company depending on what metrics they need to hit, but on the whole, I wouldn’t hire a PR firm until there’s a solid 5-8M EUR in funding. At this stage, a company has the internal resources to devote to PR, whether staff – someone senior to handle communications, and a person who can slice & dice data, if they have it – and the time of the founders to devote to the time-intensive activities of interviews and speaking engagements.

At How to Web Conference next week, Colette will explore “The importance of reputation” in the tech world, and share key advice on how to build one and what resources are essential for this. This is an instrumental talk you don’t want to miss, so make sure you have book your Early Bird ticket until Thursday!

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