“It’s going to be the most disruptive platform in the ecosystem.” - How many times have we encountered new startup founders who think their company is going to change the world? The excited glint in their eye, the passion in their words! It’s almost gut-wrenching to even attempt to burst that bubble and break it to the founder that there are probably five other companies doing the exact same thing and unfortunately, your baby just isn’t that cute. It’s endearing, and we can work with it, but it’s not going to be winning any contests.
Bursting the “entrepreneur’s bubble” is necessary to set expectations and build a realistic public relations plan which actually amplifies the aspects of the business that consumers and media would be interested in, instead of assuming that every aspect is groundbreaking. It’s a recipe for disaster when castles are built in the air and further an entrepreneur’s unchecked vision. Having a “real” and productive conversation with entrepreneurs involves a delicate mix of courtesy, kindness, logic and of course, strategic thinking. As younger members of the PR industry, this conversation can be difficult to navigate when we are forced to pit a few years of industry-specific expertise against someone’s decades-old dream.
How to burst the “entrepreneur’s bubble”?
Be gentle: No one likes to be told directly that their idea is not so innovatively groundbreaking that media and consumers will by vying to talk about it. Instead, try finding the unique aspects that you can identify as a PR professional that might have escaped their notice and highlight those.
Set realistic expectations: By allowing entrepreneurs to believe that Company X is all set to be #1 and take the ecosystem by its horns, you’re only setting yourself and your account up for disaster, as well as, mutual frustration. Expectation setting right from the get-go helps set a roadmap for what you can achieve together, and then you’re always free to over deliver too.
Introduce Critical Distance: Introducing the concept of critical distance will be particularly important in this process, so as to help entrepreneurs see things with an objectivity lens. For products, a blind test could be a good solution, where competing products are pitted against each other and the founder can then gauge where their product realistically stands. While attempting something of this nature is particularly challenging for a service-related organisation, primary research through a survey on competing services could help immensely. Additionally, employ the benefit of your critical distance as well as industry expertise to begin to isolate elements of interest as well as drawbacks, from a PR perspective and present this as your value addition.
Have lofty goals to vie for: Being ambitious and optimistic is not always destructive; lofty goals could help create ambition and drive. Don’t try to entirely burst the entrepreneur’s bubble, try also to understand their perspective and work with them on how to best achieve it, maybe making space for some dreaming in your achievable plans. After all, one of the best perks of being in this industry is the ability to join someone in their journeys and in the process better that journey too.
So while their baby may not be the cutest one ever born, there’s a way for PR professionals to work with founders to ensure their baby still finds a good footing in the world.
Karishma Joseph, is currently with The Mavericks India and Spriha Dhanuka, previously with The PRactice is currently pursuing a masters in digital communication leadership at the University of Salzburg.
Two young, fiercely feminist entrants to the Indian PR industry analyze their world paring apart layers of complex issues with their sharp perspective.