STARTUP PUBLIC RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS GUIDANCE

Startups often overlook communications when it is communications that can discipline a startup, inspire a team and audience, and accelerate adoption.  Below are some excerpts from No Dead Monkeys, the first and only guide specifically for startup communications.  Startups anywhere, the U.S., UK, Australia, Israel, Korea...anywhere can benefit from incorporating communications into their thinking from the beginning.  Look at most successful startups and you don't necessarily see formal public relations at the beginning, but you do see an excellent and consistent grasp of story and the need to communicate clearly.

“Between us we have worked with and reported on a lot of companies. A whole lot. Mainly tech. Large and small. Established and fledgling. Cockamamie and brilliant. We have witnessed insane dysfunction that hobbled otherwise promising ventures, and wise management that converted ordinary ideas into enduring business propositions.
When you do what we do, you get a front-row seat on a venture. It's almost forensic. You see how people think and act--often in moments of crisis--and you see how that thinking translates into internal operations as well as into the public square. People are either across the table from you asking for advice on how to answer a journalist's question, or you are the journalist and they are occupying the hot seat.
Over time, we each began to identify common elements among those ventures that succeeded and those that didn't. In fact, these elements seemed to pop up again and again with such regularity, it became clear that products, personalities and business plans aside, there was something universal happening here that no one was really talking about with the clarity or emphasis it deserved.
Ironically, that universal thing that no one was talking about was communications. In one way or another, all of those critical elements we were seeing could be traced back to it.
Communications was the touchstone. Expressing clearly and consistently what one did was the key, not only to knowing it yourself and letting others know it, but actually to doing it well day after day. Even more, communications could and should shape strategy, drive effective management, help discover and carve out new markets and unlock opportunity far beyond merely grabbing a headline or generating some online buzz.
Yet despite fundamental aspect, it was often treated as an afterthought, something that could pretty much be done on the fly, and frequently only invited into the venture equation long after the planning was done and serious mistakes had already been planted deep into a startup's fabric–setting up the perfect hiding place for tomorrow's obvious failures.”

Excerpt From: Jeremy Kirk and Jonathan Englert. “No Dead Monkeys: The Communications Survival Guide for Startups.” iBooks. 

“We've seen startups of all kind waste energy on de-tails that seem practical but don't matter nearly as much as learning who they actually are and figuring out how to communicate that. How do you get formal? You make identifying and refining your vision a priority and a dis-tinct activity. First, plan a messaging session. The name messaging session is misleading, because even though it implies that you will be emerging with messages, most of the time you won't. Or, at least, you shouldn't. The fact is, if you spend an hour with your core team, our bet is that you'll walk out knowing what your vision isn't, but still be unable to articulate it in any way that's suitable for the media or any other kind of communication. And that's good. You don't want to rush this, it's too important.
One of the unintended benefits of a messaging session is that you might just uncover a suicide monkey in your midst. Yes, communications far from being some superficial window dressing can actually penetrate right into the soul of your operation. What is a suicide monkey? It's that member of your team who by dint of ego, obstinacy or simply a radically different vision or way of working should be shown the door. Obviously, this is a challenge if the suicide monkey is a co-founder, but that's unlikely. Far more likely is that the suicide monkey is someone who's joined the team along the way. What the messaging session can do is reveal this danger before it's too late.”

Excerpt From: Jeremy Kirk and Jonathan Englert. “No Dead Monkeys: The Communications Survival Guide for Startups.” iBooks. 

 

“Sometimes startups make the mistake of thinking they have to be too professional, and they get embarrassed about company qualities that they imagine are shortcomings they need to conceal. There is a difference between telegraphing weakness and projecting quirkiness. Let your dysfunction be your difference. If you are building the business out of your mom's living room and your mom makes your team grilled cheese sandwiches–that's color. If the sandwiches are good and the journalist has one, it might also build goodwill long-term (see below). The point is that as long as the quirkiness doesn't contradict your story or mission, then be proud to put it out there. Look, we've worked and reported on enough corporates to know that you don't want to bring that kind of bland into your company until you absolutely have to. Your team might be a bunch of oddballs, but at least they have skin in the game."

Excerpt From: Jeremy Kirk and Jonathan Englert. “No Dead Monkeys: The Communications Survival Guide for Startups.” iBooks.