PR and the Lean Start-Up

05.01.2013 | Jaymelina Esmele

At Communiqué PR we work with companies of all sizes, including a wide variety of start-up companies. From start-ups who are bootstrapping their operations to those who have secured multiple rounds of multimillion dollar funding, I admire the spirit of these entrepreneurs and their unrelenting drive to close a gap or solve a problem in the market.

I think that’s why an article in the May 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review caught my attention. The article, “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything,” explores the differences between the traditional approach to launching a business and the emerging “lean start-up” method.

In the typical formula for launching a new venture, you write a business plan, seek investors, put together a team, launch the product and drive sales. According to the article, the lean start-up approach “favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development.” The lean start-up method makes the process of starting a company less risky.

The article also suggests that with the lean start-up concept, operating in “stealth mode” prior to an official launch and orchestrating a big reveal, is rendered obsolete. Rather, companies should focus on releasing minimum viable product because ongoing customer feedback will produce a better end result.

From a PR and communications perspective, there’s something to be said for the impact a well-executed unveiling can have on building awareness. In addition, products that are more fully developed or closer to completion are able to put their best foot forward in the eyes of journalists and customers who may be evaluating those products. However, in today’s fast-paced business climate the race is to be first to market, then to use that position to establish yourself as the best.

Like the entrepreneurs who subscribe to the lean start-up approach, PR/communications pros need to be flexible, nimble and responsive. Tools such as social media, blogs and online-only press release distribution services can help build buzz as products or features are iteratively released. PR pros can also engage in transparent communication with key influencers to ensure that clear expectations for the product are established. This is particularly important with journalists and bloggers who may be reviewing products for their readers.

What do you think of the lean start-up approach? Has it affected your approach to PR?




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