Obviously, it hurts when a promising business project you
backed financially goes down the tube.
But while you point to many possible causes, seldom do you
attribute the wreckage to a lack of effective communications
that might have modified the behavior of sales prospects in a
positive way, thus averting a money-losing shutdown.
Is it not possible, Mr. or Ms. Venture Capitalist, that aggressive
publicity and promotion might salvage the occasional, marginal
I believe it could, so here is a suggestion.
Make it standard operating procedure, starting with your next
venture, (a minor cost compared to your investment) that any
project you back MUST include an adequately funded, top-notch
plan to aggressively publicize the venture.
Here's why. In public relations, we know people will act on
their perception of the facts before them about your new venture.
Further, we know that those perceptions will lead to predictable
behaviors, good or bad, about which something can be done.
So when we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching,
persuading and moving-to-desired-action those folks whose
behaviors affect your new venture, your public relations effort is
I know you have startup worries beyond public relations
concerns, but consider for a moment some very serious PR
exposures faced by that new venture of yours, and especially
by the new management you recently installed.
If sales prospects are not made aware of your product or service,
you will not get them as customers. And, as customers, if they
don't remain convinced of the value of your product or service,
you lose them.
If employees believe your new management doesn't care about
them, productivity suffers, and if a minority person believes
your new venture discriminates when it doesn't, a host of
unnecessary problems may ensue.
For that matter, if community residents perceive your new
business as a lousy place to work, you have employee hiring
and retention problems. And if insurance carriers perceive
your new management as a bad risk, they don't provide the
needed business coverage.
There's more. If journalists are suspicious of your new
management's motives and they are not convinced otherwise,
the venture gets "bad press." And if business people believe
what some competitors say about the new business, that
strategic alliance your managers want so badly may not come
about. Plus, as you grow bigger, if government regulators
believe the venture's products are not completely safe, sales
will almost certainly be negatively affected.
By the way, this article calls addressing these kinds of risks
a new idea for venture capitalists because I've yet to see it
discussed or even mentioned in the public press.
Fortunately, you can put the kind of PR we're discussing to
work immediately on behalf of your newest venture by
introducing the new program to its managers with a brief,
no-nonsense charter. Possibly along the lines of "yes, yes,
I know you're very busy but it's our money on the line here
and we're going to do everything possible to make it work!"
From that might flow these "marching orders" to your managers.
You will take the time to meet with members of your most
important audiences and evaluate their feelings and beliefs
about you and the business.
You commit to take action when you discover troubling
perceptions that could lead to negative behaviors.
You accept that what people BELIEVE to be true, versus the truth,
defines your public relations problem.
You will raise your profile, and that of the business, by regularly
speaking before business and fraternal clubs, by meeting with
the media and by promoting your business as appropriate, thus
building the kind of good will you will need should things
You will prepare carefully thought out, persuasive messages that
directly address the misconceptions you discover during your
periodic fact finding sessions.
You will select effective communications tactics that will carry
those messages to your key audiences in a timely manner.
And you will choose from a wide array of tactics such as
meetings, speeches, luncheons, facility tours, promotional
events, emails, media interviews and many more.
And finally, you will track the progress of your public relations
effort by speaking regularly with members of those key audiences,
and monitoring both the media and the reaction of community
residents and other businesses, adjusting your strategy and tactics accordingly.
Yes, Mr. or Ms. Venture Capitalist, it does hurt when a promising
project you backed goes down the tube.
Of course, you are, and must be concerned with a host of financial,
human resource, legal and competitive issues for each new venture.
At the same time, in my view, you must remain vigilant as to how
a single issue - potentially dangerous, unattended perceptions
among a key audience -- can nudge a fledgling business closer to
failure than success.
Fortunately, the "marching orders" outlined above will lead your
venture management team to resolve such issues without a major
investment in either time or money.
Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your
ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would
be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI.net.
Robert A. Kelly ? 2005.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and
association managers about using the fundamental premise of public
relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR,
Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR,
Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.
Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com; bobkelly@TNI.net