Top tips for effective PR team building for startups

By definition, startups are businesses starting from scratch. Therefore, it is essential for PR to create the right awareness of the potential new business from the beginning among important groups of stakeholders. Their positive support will enable a successful launch. Your PR team’s role is crucial for establishing this awareness in the business environment.

Even though the PR team’s marketing communication will have a big impact after the public announcement of the new product or service to be launched by the startup, the public announcement will be the culmination of a lot of background development work by the PR team through appointing team members, deciding on a PR strategy, and planning the execution..

Identify your stakeholders/target audiences

Firstly, your PR team needs to identify your stakeholders or key target audiences – the people you want to reach who satisfy the requirement that their decisions will impact on the business, and the business will impact on them.

You should immediately consult within the business to identify these people. Consult with senior management, marketing, and other business units to find out who should be top priority to influence. The stakeholders should have been largely identified already. These include potential investors, financial institutions, industry groups, service providers, government regulators where relevant, and, of course, potential customers/clients.

The PR group helps management to define how their new product or service is likely to satisfy the needs of multiple audiences. Then develop communication strategies with messages that strike a powerful chord with each target group.

Define the roles

To hire the right people for your PR team, clearly define and understand the roles. Making a list gives you a broad idea of how to turn your staff into a team, especially when you have to consider potential remote workers or a hybrid option for team members.

Generally speaking, the positions in a PR or marketing communication team are:

  • Media relations expert: When talking about PR, most people think about the publicist. This is a person collaborating with clients and doing publicity campaigns. They master the strategic role of your PR team in collaborating with brands, marketers, celebrities, and other stakeholders.
  • Copywriter: Brands nearly always need to base their core work on written communication, so you need a specialist writer to put your strategies into compelling words for all forms of media. This writing requires a consistent tone and voice through the professional copywriter.
  • Stakeholder relations professional: Public relations, especially stakeholder relations, is about managing relationships with key stakeholders and wider audiences ranging from journalists to bloggers and other content creators. These contacts can prove invaluable in the effectiveness of your PR role.
  • Social media manager: Social media activity can make or break your enterprise, so you need a specialist who operates as a good team player.
  • Spokesperson: The spokesperson has a commanding role as the face and the voice of your company. So, you need your CEO or another senior executive to represent your organization with a trustworthy face and a commanding presence. They need to have reliable, detailed knowledge of your organization.

In any small team like this, team members can perform multiple roles at different times. For instance, the same person can act as a publicist and social media specialist where it is important to convey the same consistently strong messages in the marketplace.

Of course, your team needs good administrative backup. This is especially important during times of pressure in managing big projects with tight deadlines. Hiring a professional virtual assistant can be a good idea in these cases.

Consider team-building stats

Hiring the right team is a good start. By clearly defining roles and giving people insight into their responsibilities, you’ll do a lot of projects that are simple to navigate. Responsibilities will be clear and logical, and you’ll avoid many jurisdiction disputes (whose job was it).

Now, you come to the most important part of your team-building exercise – making your PR department a team.

To develop a plan, you need to examine some of these problems and develop your unique approach to solving them.

Since the advent of the Covid pandemic, the biggest challenge of team-building is the fact that a lot of PR departments work remotely. When people don’t meet in person (very often or at all), it’s harder for them to develop a feeling of unity, loyalty, and belonging.

You don’t want to rely on statistics when building a team. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore stats, either.

For instance, according to team building stats for 2023, 69% of people prefer team lunches as a get-together event. While seasonal events (Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving parties, etc.) are popular, they’re only available in set circumstances.

This is important to help you set realistic expectations and give you a better frame of reference. Chances are that many people imagine team building activity as a group overnight stay at a retreat. This, however, only happens in 25-27% of cases.

One last statistic you will find useful is how underused organizational tools are in this field. While Google Calendar is virtually perfect for this task, it is used only by 30% of team-building event organizers. This is something you’ll want to change as soon as possible.

Improve your workflow

Wanting everyone to get along is nice, but efficiency should be the team’s top priority – you want your PR group to be a team to improve the workflow. So, you need to create a work environment that will provide them with all the conditions for optimal efficiency.

Bear in mind that the effects of this are two-fold. Sure, sometimes your employees argue around personal matters or personality differences. Most of the time, however, their argument is either work-related or caused by a work-related issue. It won’t even be surprising if an unresolved work-related problem is the underline of the next “trivial” argument.

People need access to tools and systems that will allow them to do their best work. They also need to believe that their colleagues are keeping up with them.

This is why your hiring practices must be rigorous and your onboarding efficient. Adam Smith states, “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” In other words, if one employee starts believing they’ve had to do much more than their fair share of  the work, they’ll start holding resentment against that particular colleague. If they believe you tolerate (or don’t see this), they might also resent you as their supervisor or manager.

There’s only so much you can do as an organizer. Some people are impossible to work with, while others deliberately try to make their coworkers uncomfortable. Still, you would be surprised at how much you can do by improving the workflow.

One more thing, overworked people are less prone to collaboration.

Helping them outperform their expectations will make them feel better about themselves and think more highly of their colleagues. This already makes a massive difference and does most of your team-building job for you.

Define success

The biggest problem with team-building is knowing you’ve done well. You can’t measure how well people are getting along. No KPI or metric can help you to exactly determine that, although firms like Gallup examine the extent of engagement by individuals.

Also, it’s not like you can be done with team building. This is a never-ending process. New people come to your business regularly, and even your old staff needs to blow off some steam occasionally.

On the other hand, there are some things that you can (kind of) measure. For instance, you can start paying attention to the flow of communication. This is a bit ironic since if your PR team cannot communicate among themselves, how do you expect them to do so with clients?

You can also figure out how many disputes you bring to the management. The lack of reported disputes doesn’t mean that there are none. It can be that your staff members resolved them directly. This is the best example of a successful team-building result. At the same time, not reporting a problem doesn’t always mean it’s resolved. This is not a good thing and is definitely something to keep an eye out for.

Unfortunately, success is not the only possible outcome. What happens if your team fails or your team-building project doesn’t yield desired results? You need to examine, analyze, and adjust. As mentioned, there’s no end to your team-building.

In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Get personally involved

Your PR or marketing communication department is in direct touch with stakeholders. However, its subject matter is incredibly creative and subjective. Mistakes and problems will be subtle, and there usually won’t be a clear-cut solution to the problem. This is why taking a more hands-on approach can help solve the problem.

PR is all about people and personal interactions, even though the scale can change periodically. While remote hiring, you can only guess who will be the right fit. However, you can’t discover this in their application form or CV. There are some indicators, but it all comes down to your ability (and your recruiter’s) to “read” people.

This is why hiring freelancers is such a good idea. Sure, you want an in-house specialist, but you also want a flexible cooperation model so that you can cut ties if things don’t seem to work out. You also want to “test” a new employee in a flexible working relationship. This way, you can easily pivot if things don’t work out.

Building a good PR team takes finesse and a hands-on approach

To simplify this task, you must clearly define roles in your PR team and hire the right people for these posts.

Familiarizing yourself with team-building stats can also help you devise a more effective team-building plan.

People who are constantly underperforming and feeling burned out are more likely to blame their coworkers for this. So, better workflow organization also helps.

At the end of the day, it’s a networking-based industry, and you need to ensure your team’s communication is top-class in dealing with the key individuals and groups.

Kim Harrison

Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.

Content Authenticity Statement. AI is not knowingly used in the writing or editing of any content, including images, in these newsletters, articles or ebooks. If AI-produced content is contained in any published form in future, this will be reported to readers.

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