At York IE, we take a market-in approach to everything we do — including our startup storytelling efforts.
The market-in approach — understanding your company’s competitive and comparative landscapes, and how you fit into them — makes a lot of sense when discussing a new product or service. As a startup, it’s not enough to know everything about what you offer. You need to know the role you play in the broader market. Only then can you truly identify your differentiators and how you truly offer unique value. That is how you grow.
The same is true of startup storytelling.
The New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz wrote a Medium post about public relations last summer titled “Your Success Is Not A Story.” In the article, she writes:
“The most common pitch I get goes something like this: Hi, I’m X, I think you should write about [how I or my company achieved some great success]. … These are not stories, they’re PR. Unless your story ties into some larger cultural trend, or holds some type of important wider significance, I am not interested in covering it.”
It is important for every entrepreneur interested in startup storytelling to read the above blurb for two reasons.
Start Small with Storytelling
First, it should help align expectations of what is possible with media relations and PR for startups.
Every founder wants their startup featured in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. I don’t blame them. I’d love to be profiled as well. But the reality is that focusing on that is taking away energy from more productive startup storytelling efforts.
Chances are your buyers are turning to smaller, more focused trade publications for the latest news within their space. When they look there, they need to find your company. Being more targeted, especially in your earlier days, will provide the highest return on investment for your efforts.
Understand Your Market
Lorenz’s point reinforces our market-in approach. Looking at your entire business through this lens will help you on multiple fronts.
Deeply understanding your market will mean that you have your pulse on the trends in your space. You’ll see the moves that are happening and have insights into what they mean. That is powerful. Being a part of a broader story, instead of the sole focus, can be an excellent supplement to more targeted marketing and PR for startups.
Your inclusion in such a story portrays you as a true thought leader in the space. And while that may not correlate directly to tomorrow’s sales quota, it will certainly help build brand equity, which is equally valuable.
It is important to remember that the story of your company includes everything going on inside your four walls — but also outside. Understanding that universe and the role you play within it will set you up for unilateral success.