So do the people who do your PR.
These days, we hear a lot about company “vision,” but what does that really mean? It’s more than a great concept; that alone will not ensure success for your company, or provide the direction it needs to achieve tangible business goals that will attract investors and partners. Often, it’s something intriguing about where you, as a leader, want your organization to go, a direction that’s more compelling than one service or product.
Here’s an example: One of Red Fan’s clients, Austin-based Q2 Holdings (a digital banking provider for community financial institutions) didn’t initiate its launch with a product push for its mobile banking platform. That is, after all, the core of what they deliver to their customers. Instead, they started with a vision: That to compete with the big banks, community financial institutions first need access to best-in-class technologies. Q2’s mobile banking platform is just one component of the company’s vision to grow local communities by empowering the community financial institutions that serve them.
I meet with entrepreneurs all the time. I’m married to one and I myself am an entrepreneur, so I get it. There are a million ideas floating around in our heads most days. But good ideas are only as good as their execution, and plucking the right idea from the never-ending firing of synapses is the most crucial decision you have to make.
The bottom line for any potential investor, client or team member is always: “Does your company have longevity? Or, at the very least, is it attractive for a lucrative purchase because of how you’re building it?”
As equally important as the initial idea’s longevity is your ability to maintain both a reality and a perception that you’re not changing your ideas daily, weekly, monthly. The ‘P’ in “PR” is for public, after all, meaning you’re on the grand stage for all to see. Changing your idea because of product feedback you received in beta is one thing. Pivoting because the leadership is bored and arbitrarily decides change is needed is quite another, and it sends a convoluted message to stakeholders. Investors aren’t there to fund your midlife crises or “aha” moments, your entrepreneurial zeal or your urge to shake things up just because. They’re backing identifiable potential and expecting results.
So do the people who do your PR.
I received a cold call the other day from a woman who wanted to tell me about her business idea and why Red Fan should represent her company. It was an admittedly bold and respectable move, but when I started asking questions, it was apparent she wasn’t ready. She had no clear vision, and was instead hoping to slap a hasty PR plan into action and muscle her way into the market on nothing but moxie and brawn. Sweat equity is required for startup success, long before you enlist a PR agency for support and guidance. It starts with pinpointing your story and defining your vision of who you are.
The good news is I have a checklist of questions I use with potential clients to identify what that story and vision are for the companies that come calling. Sixty percent of them simply aren’t ready. I’m happy to tell them so, and 80 percent come back when they are equipped to maximize their investment in PR. If they’re honest in answering these questions, we can determine if they still have work to do, or if it’s time to engage in a partnership, whether for a short-term project or an elongated and comprehensive campaign.
So ask yourself:
What is my vision? Be sure to write this down.
What do I want employees to know about our vision—and where it leads?
Does my staff have the right tools for communicating this vision in a way that compels key audiences and inspires their loyalty in the company?
Have I crystalized the messaging so there’s no mistaking the “why” and “how”? Or as some people like to say, “Why should anyone give a damn?”
Have we explored our market and done our due diligence so we can instantly describe what makes us unique and differentiate ourselves from our competitors?
Have we established both short-term and stretch goals?
Do we have a lead handling marketing? Someone with the time, dedication and experience who can immerse himself/herself in the marketing strategy and align it with the company’s vision?
Have we thought realistically about how exactly a communications and PR partner could help us, and how this can further our goals?
Always remember, vision and clarity first! These are the two ingredients you have to ensure you get right the first time. Establishing these is the sign of a good business build and a great leader. If you’ve done this and you’re wanting to perfect your messaging and prepare your company narrative for prime time, it’s time for us to talk! You can send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.