How I see it: PR and treps

Peppercomm Communications founder Steve Cody on what he learned about branding as a start up.

Steve Cody

The brand of you

Having started my own strategic communications firm 17 years ago and watched it grow to a 100-person, $15 million, three-office entity, I know how critical self-promotion can be to a nascent business.

That said, I've spoken to countless entrepreneurs over the years who struggle with public relations. They either:

They're wrong.

I believe a smart entrepreneur should pursue parallel paths in their first year of business. Sure, it's critical to focus on superb quality and service. But neglecting one's own brand to focus solely on current customers is a mistake that will limit growth and, potentially, kill an embryonic business (because, sad to say, the business world will NOT beat a path to your door).

Face to face, you might be able to explain to someone what sets your business apart; but what is the image you're leaving for them when a prospect searches for information about you online?

That's why, back in 1995, I spent my daytime hours smiling-and-dialing prospects and servicing the one or two small clients we could attract. My evenings, however, were devoted to spreading the Peppercomm gospel.

That included:

I did more. Lots more. But, my focus on the brand of me, and my firm, paid off handsomely. We attracted blue-chip clients, EY being one of them, as a direct result of the early buzz my publicity campaign had generated. By the end of the first year, we'd achieved billings of $890,000 and were off to the races.

Don't neglect your brand. Customers come and customers go. And, if the departing customer represents too large a percentage of your sales, your business may go right along with the departing customer. Pursuing parallel paths is the smartest road to success for any start-up.

Steve Cody is founder and CEO of Peppercomm Communications. Follow him on Twitter @RepManCody


The views of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily the views of the global EY organization or its member firms. Moreover, they should be seen in the context of the time they were made.