The power of PR: How it helps build businesses

Behind every successful business, there’s a hidden power driving its rise to prominence.

Long before Story Shop entered the game, I have always had this insatiable hunger for the tales of entrepreneurs and the companies they built. From the big screen in ‘The Founder’ to the pages of ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, and through magazines such as ‘The Courier’ and ‘Monocle,’ these stories ignited my fascination. The granddaddy of them all, NPR’s ‘How I Built This,’ further fueled my curiosity.  I’ve been a fanboy of the podcast, which shares the stories of entrepreneurs and the movements they’ve built, since it began. 

This obsession has been like having access to a treasure trove of wisdom from a dream team of mentors (sorry, tribe was copyrighted by Tim Ferris). I’ve studied their blunders and I’ve made my fair share too. But I can confidently say that I’ve avoided some major booby traps along the way thanks to the lessons I’ve learned. 

These stories have constantly reinforced my faith in my chosen career path. ‘How I Built This’

exemplifies the power of PR in almost every episode. The stories of these remarkable founders follow a recurring pattern: a company faces hurdle after hurdle until -wham – something magical transforms their fortunes, often in the form of a big ol’ burst of PR. 

Here are just some examples from How I Built This of how PR has driven success:

  • HALO Top: This local ice cream company attributes its rapid growth to a GQ article by Shane Snow, who ate Halo Top for ten consecutive days. When the article was published in March 2016, it was a rocket launch: the company’s revenue for that month surpassed its entire earnings for 2015. From there, HALO Top’s growth skyrocketed by a staggering 2,500% Year-over-Year from 2015 to 2016, becoming a phenomenon.
  • Warby Parker: Early articles in GQ and Vogue played pivotal roles in helping Warby Parker grow and establish itself as a leader in the eyewear industry.

  • The Lip Bar: When it launched in select stores, The Lip Bar invested its entire budget in a PR campaign to earn authenticity, and it paid off big time. Coverage in Refinery 29 and Vogue was crucial in making the brand the top-selling lipstick in the US within its first month of launch.

  • Spanx: The perfect pant collection landed on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Favourite things’ list, which helped to skyrocket sales. 

  • Headspace: In its early stages, with no revenue, Headspace managed to insert a “How to meditate” guide in a January edition of The Guardian, resulting in an immediate uptick of £32,000 per month directly attributable to the booklet.

  • Sir Kensington’s: The brand created an exhibit about french fries in New York, mirroring how the Museum of Natural History features butterflies or dinosaurs. The ketchup brand allocated its entire marketing budget to this campaign, gaining earned coverage from The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, and even Chinese TV.  Co-founder Scott Norton described the £75,000 spent as “the best marketing money we’ve ever invested.”

  • Airbnb: Founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk shared how early media coverage of a stunt at the 2008 Democratic National Convention –  the creation of Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain’s – elevated the company, helping it to accelerate its growth.

  • Pebble Smartwatches: Targeted media coverage generated by Pebble Technology led to the smartwatch brand raising more than $30m dollars through Kickstarter, and a surge in interest, establishing the company as a pioneer in the wearable tech industry.

These examples show that whether you’re launching a startup, revitalising a struggling business, or aiming to elevate your company to the next level, PR can be the key to unlocking your company’s true potential, establishing brand awareness, credibility and trust among consumers. 

A well-placed article, a stunt or expert opinion can have a profound impact on your company’s fortunes, but it’s an often undervalued marketing lever. 

We can help you understand the transformative potential of PR and how it can help your business flourish in a competitive landscape. Here’s how we’ve done it for some of our own clients. 

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