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Build a Networking PR Marketing Grid

Every entrepreneur needs to know the audience that effects their business. While buyers or customers are key, there are also other groups that deserve an entrepreneurs attention via marketing and Public Relations. The challenge for small business or startups is that few have time or finances for this effort.

Taking the time to map out how to effect the broadest audience is key. Before spending a dime on marketing or PR build a "networking grid" to identify where your efforts will result in the most impact and long lasting Marketing and PR effect.

Checklist for building a Networking PR Grid

  1. List your audience and what they do. Such as; users (buy my products), trade pubs and writers (exposure), venture capitalists or analysts (endorsement).
  2. Associations and Conferences. Where does your each part of your audience go, what do they belong to? Are there trade events multiple segments of your audience attends? If so announce newsworthy items and send the press releases to your audience as part of "recently announced at...strategy". Too many events and not enough financing? Announce anyway, it is not necessary that you be at the show and there is always benefit from sending the  release to your grid.
  3. What does your audience read? List the pubs and trades each segment reads. What are the pubs that reach the most segments of your audience? What pubs are critical to particular audiences.
  4. Concerns and Needs. What is important to each area of your audience. For instance users want products to work and for a company to be responsive. Venture Capitalists want a company showing growth in a hot segment. An article positioned in a VC pub on your company satisfies the Venture Capital Audience as well as lets your customers know you know you understand the industry and will be around (endorsement).
  5. Determine the Best Communication Method. What is the best way to stay in front of each audience segment. Does an Email Newsletter work for several segments? Speaking at conferences?

After you have made a grid with information identify the following.

  1. Which audience segment is the priority each quarter?  For example, if a funding round is coming up working to heighten visibility and confidence with the VC audience is key. If customers are needed work with analysts to get industry and product segment endorsements.
  2. Hone your messages. Using your Grid of audience concerns and industry trends, create messages that address these in simple well crafted sentences. These are called key message points.
  3. Do the legwork. Your audience is identified. Get out and speak, join associations or sponsor targeted events. Get articles written and placed, build a plan to regularly communicate via letter, press releases or newsletter. Build and maintain relationships with Press and Analysts by visiting them with News or Strategic Announcements. Focus on what you want to accomplish in upcoming quarters and prioritize effort and key messages each quarter against available events or optimum audience segments.

Last, can this be done low cost and without a PR agency? Almost everything can be done by an entrepreneur with energy. Scheduling and follow-up on introduction PR tours should be done with an agency who has access and relationships with the press. Speaking, joining associations, writing newsletters and simple articles can certainly be done unassisted. The key is to work on things that last and building an effective Networking PR Grid is the starting point. As a business grows, hiring a good PR firm will be key, but many of the building blocks will be in place.

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