Fresh eyes

5 communications tips for scaleup businesses

Joel Durkin

Written by Joel Durkin,
Senior PR & Communications Manager at Freshfield

Being a fast growth or scaleup business brings a unique set of communications opportunities and challenges.

While scaling often means there is more good news for your business to share with your audiences, the demands of high growth can cause capacity issues particularly within a company’s leadership team. This can lead to a scaleup company’s communications strategy becoming an afterthought.

Here are five communications tips that may help.

1. Put your purpose at the centre of your communications strategy

If your company has a clear purpose and set of powerful values, these should inform your communications strategy as it will help your audience build an understanding of what you stand for and what makes you stand out.

When someone makes a choice to buy an Innocent smoothie, they often do so with knowledge of the company’s ethical credentials. Many people who use Timpsons know about their company’s reputation for giving employment opportunities to former prisoners.

We know about these companies’ values because they choose to communicate them, but they must be backed up by actions which can be evidenced. Innocent found this out recently amid claims one of its television adverts ‘misled’ customers.

2. Know your audiences

Who does your business want to communicate with? Think about the customers, networks and potential employees with whom you want to improve your profile then work back from there.

For example, if you’re a manufacturer of airplane parts, engaging with the journalists of well-regarded trade publications and relevant professional bodies and influencers are likely to be more beneficial than targeting local media outlets with a speculative brand awareness campaign.

3. Make your leaders visible and plan ahead

 The leaders of scaleup businesses are brilliant stories themselves but they are often so busy, they often don’t commit the time to the PR and communications plan or think about it too late to maximise the benefits.

Try and make your chief executive your chief communicator and make your leaders part of the communications strategy. Tactics can include interviews, industry panel discussions or simply amplifying company news and content through their own personal social media channels and networks.

As with all communications, it is always best to plan ahead. Create a forward-looking PR and communications planner and ensure your leadership team are kept abreast of key timelines so they can get involved and maximise their own reach.

4. Harness the power of storytelling

Business media publications are always looking for positive stories about scaleup companies in their region or sector.

Often scaleup companies, generally defined as growing at least 20 per cent per year, have a raft of powerful brand storytelling opportunities including the creation of new jobs, expanding into new markets, new products, award wins and moving into new premises.

Curating such stories is a great way to increase your profile, propel your brand into the minds of potential customers, expand your network and improve your employer brand. However, it’s important that what you communicate, and the way you do it, aligns with your overarching business strategy.

5. Revisit your communications strategy as you grow

By their very nature, scaleup companies are on a fast journey, and often encounter challenges and new opportunities which can see them change course. It is important that your communications strategy remains agile and responsive to the evolving nature of your scaleup journey.

For example, colleagues may be communicating that you are ‘regionally-based’, when in fact you have opened new offices and are operating nationally. On this point, when developing a communications strategy, ensure your team are fully informed and are clear on your verbal identity as they are key communicators.

As you scale, you should also think regularly about the resource needed to manage your communications. At the early stage of your scaleup journey, perhaps your communications plan was managed by a single colleague. As you grow, they will need further support to keep up with the pace of growth.

If you think your PR and communications strategy needs some fresh eyes, we’d love to help. Please contact Joel Durkin at hello@freshfield.com or complete our online form here.

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