VCs Are a Company’s Secret PR Superpower

Posted on September 20, 2019

By Robin Bulanti

Involving VCs in PR is just good business. While VCs have long recognized that getting involved in their portfolio’s business outcomes is a win-win, many companies still aren’t taking advantage of them as valuable assets for PR. Beyond an advisory and financial role, VCs can be a ready and willing resource for added brand awareness.

Rather than leave them to the boardroom then, companies should tap into their VCs’ brand and capitalize on the investor view of the market or competitive landscape for potential media interviews, thought leadership and commentary on economic or other trends. This will not only help build a stronger business, but it’s also a proven way to crack next-level business press coverage. The kind that makes competitors sit up and ask,“Well, why didn’t we think of that?”

Here are a few ideas for thinking about a partnership that goes beyond the term sheet, board meetings and quarterly earnings, one that can have a direct impact on awareness.

Partner at Every Stage.

As companies navigate the inherent challenges in early, mid and late stages of growth, PR plays a big role in growing visibility and, certainly, valuation. The more visibility marketing and communications is getting at the board level, the greater the likelihood those at the very highest echelons of an organization will continue to be invested in that success. It’s a virtuous cycle. More and more, we see PR enjoying a prominence in the boardroom, and for good reason.

For early-stage startups, focus is often on recruiting, acquisition and awareness. There are specific PR strategies employed in those first years on the scene. VCs not only provide guidance (they’ve been here before), but they can also open doors to financial, business and broadcast press in a way that a young company may not be able to on its own. They also have the experience, voice and credibility to comment on market, investment and technology trends.

High-growth companies, on the other hand, are building the business case and market credibility. Again, VCs are always expected to participate inside the boardroom, but they can also help make the right connections for a company outside it. Often we see VCs put their own network to work for our clients, bringing them new industry partnerships, connecting executives for knowledge sharing or mentoring, hosting media dinners and making introductions to institutional investors when the time is right. For companies on the path to IPO, for example, getting connected with financial analysts, or having a highly regarded VC firm comment on investment trends (Greylock Partners in this example), is invaluable for reaching a financial audience at a pivotal time.

The largest companies lean on investors in a different way and the relationship can be more complicated. But as in other stages, having the ability to leverage experts including VCs to comment on business news such as how to weather economic downturns (as contributed by Leslie Ventures); or to make sense of a nascent market and differentiate the winners, as is happening in AI right now (as Lightspeed Venture Partners does so articulately in this Forbes example) is too good an opportunity to pass on.

Invest in the Relationship.

Successful companies work to create and strengthen ties with their VCs as well as individual, institutional and other investors along the way. Why? They appreciate investors having a bird’s eye view of markets, and experience working with a diversity of companies and founders, that companies heads down in their own industry siloes can lack. They have a point of view. Call it perspective. Call it opinion. Either way, it’s a precious commodity for a growing company.

Any relationship is a two-way street, so think about PR value flowing in both directions. Include VCs in media (interviews, content, etc.) and event strategy (consider VC panels and moderators) where it benefits brand building on both sides. And be transparent with the news cycle and press coverage, because VCs are just as likely to appreciate, celebrate and help promote the wins.

We’ve folded VCs into the PR mix with our clients for many years with great success. The first step is simply engagement: “Here’s what we’re planning and how you might be able to help.”