The 7 immutable laws of public relations for startups.

Congratulations—your entrepreneurial dream has come true.
You’ve started your own company. People are buying your stuff, which means people are starting to know who you are either through advertising, word of mouth, social media or other simple brand promotion efforts. People recognize your logo, but do they really understand your brand?

Public relations activities help build that greater understanding. Here are our rules to live by:

  1. Have a plan. Know your audience, how you want them to feel about your brand, and the channels you want to use to reach them.
  2. Not all PR is good PR. Just because your name is in the paper doesn’t mean it’s good. For reference, see any popular entertainment figure from the last decade.
  3. Be in control of your message. To avoid Rule #2, take control of what is being said about your company. Make message maps. Work with editors. Don’t just let it happen.
  4. Social media is PR, too. Instagram isn’t just for posting selfies. It and other social media outlets—when used properly—can help define your brand. And it’s inexpensive.
  5. Crisis happens. Despite your best efforts, bad things can happen. And since you’re a startup, a bad crisis can close your business. Be prepared with a crisis plan that can help turn a crisis into a positive outcome.
  6. Spread the wealth. The greatest PR is when others say great things about you or your company. That doesn’t just happen. Identify who could speak positively on your behalf and create opportunities for their message to be heard.
  7. Evolve. Keep your message fresh. Explore new delivery channels. Reach out to new audiences, or to existing audiences in new ways. But always keep a solid foundation.

Startups come and go. Successful startups create brand awareness and further define the brand through successful public relations.

Mike Opperman is a director of account planning at C|O. He’s valued by clients for his keen sense of news and tactical thinking. He grew up on a diversified farming operation and later ran his own 150-cow dairy farm. In short: this is a guy who knows a cow’s behind like no one else on earth.