For early-stage companies, especially those looking to fundraise, prioritisation is everything. Most founders have big visions and even bigger to-do lists, and there can be a temptation to try to do everything at once. But the best entrepreneurs know exactly what to focus on and what to ignore.
The MoSCoW method is a handy acronym to help with this prioritisation. Coined by a software engineer at Oracle, each consonant of the Russian city refers to a category of task: the ‘Must haves’, ‘Should haves, ‘Could haves’, and ‘Won’t haves’. When starting up a business, viewing all activity through this MoSCoW prism can help you work out what to do now, next and never.
Functions like product development and customer happiness are ‘Must haves’ – neglecting your offering or customers is fatal. Public Relations, on the other hand, is usually considered a ‘Should have’ at best, but more often a ‘Could have’. It sits right in the centre of the acronym, somewhere between St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum.
To many, PR is seen as indulgent; a form of tech ecosystem navel-gazing that does little to actually help your business grow. It’s unpredictable, hard to quantify, and the industry is full of charlatans who promise the world and then disappear when you start asking where the coverage is. As such, founders are often advised to steer well clear.
There is certainly some logic to this. But it’s worth noting that when PR is done right, it becomes gold dust. Having worked with over a hundred startups and scaleups, I’ve seen first-hand how well executed communications strategies can accelerate growth faster than any other marketing channel.
Articles on your business in The New York Times, Guardian, or TechCrunch provide you with a level of credibility that is impossible to secure elsewhere. You can send these pieces to every lead you’ve ever generated, pushing customers over the line. You can entice the best talent to come and work at your company. The links will sit at the top of the search engine rankings, making a great impression on anyone who Googles your brand. You can even put them in your email signature.
PR also acts as a megaphone. During any given week there are 70 million people in 200 countries watching BBC World News. Even just a five minute interview, in which you explain your business and vision to the viewers, can open up entirely new and massive audiences.
And finally, when it comes to securing investment, it is not an over exaggeration to say that PR can be the difference between closing a round or not. Many of my clients have had investors reach out directly after reading profiles in the likes of WIRED, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. Media placements create the all-important feelings of momentum and the fear of missing out. Nothing tells an investor ‘this train is leaving the station with or without you’ faster than a flurry of major news articles.
The question therefore becomes not ‘can PR help my business?’ but ‘how can I do PR well?’. Aside from the obvious suggestion of hiring a talented, reasonably-priced agency (one in particular springs to mind) here are some golden rules to follow: