The Case for PR: Health Tech Startups

Nina Dunn's picture

When presenting to potential investors, the majority of startups concentrate on their product or service, the market demand, and the strength of their executive team. This often causes them to ignore a well-thought out marketing plan. Here is where these entrepreneurs get it wrong. Investors are looking for big ideas: ideas that can change our way of thinking, ideas that can build a highly profitable company. Without a strong message and brand positioning plan, it is very hard to imagine a company’s potential.

Public relations is not just about seeing your name in a newspaper. It creates an environment where you can make large sales, get access to new business development opportunities and partnerships, and see fast revenue growth. Importantly, it also enables you to create an image of a successful company that can attract additional investments.
Marketing for startups is hard. Limited resources present a challenge that many entrepreneurs struggle to overcome. However, rather than looking at it as yet another line in your budget, you should approach a marketing plan as an extension of your business plan.
When you understand who your customers are, what problems your product/service solves and what makes it better than anything else on the market, you create a business plan with short- and long-term goals. Delivering cohesive, value-driven targeted messages across your website, presentations and print materials, in social media and during media interviews will allow you to create an image of a well-managed, mature company that offers its clients and investors the feeling of confidence and stability.
If you or your team members do not have a strong background in PR, it might be a good idea to hire a professional — somebody who believes in what you do.
Think about a communications specialist as yet another member of your team, who is involved at every step of your business development plan in the same way a founder, developer, engineer or medical chief would be. You need to be in-sync with your marketing pro to allow them to fully understand your product. Only this way will you see the results that you expect.
Here are three tips for startup PR:
Target your media relations carefully
Learn the media usage habits of your customers and understand what makes news. What newspapers do they read on a daily basis? What TV and radio channels do they trust? A good way to check if your press release is newsworthy is to put yourself in a reader’s shoes and ask, “Why should I care?”
Make yourself an expert
Instead of talking about your product, raise awareness about a problem it solves. Write blogs and op-eds offering commentary on the issue, tweet about related developments and offer your knowledge to reporters. Being an expert in the industry increases your company’s credibility and value.
Social media can be deceivingly simplistic — so don’t take it lightly.
Don’t underestimate the impact of social media: it’s a free but very influential medium. A blogger can put your company on the map, or destroy your reputation. If you decide to engage with clients, investors and reporters on social networking sites, be prepared to be highly involved, transparent and honest.
Nina Dunn is an account director and media specialist at Spector & Associates. In her current role, Nina works with the agency’s healthcare and technology clients, helping them develop effective thought leadership campaigns and communications strategies. You can reach her at or follow her @Spector_Health.