Last week, Ballou was excited to join our friends and partners at Speedinvest at its annual Insights conference in Vienna. The event featured some of the biggest names in venture capital, including Young Sohn, Managing Partner at Walden Catalyst and Scott Sandell, Managing General Partner at NEA. Ballou was invited by Speedinvest to participate in a workshop session: PR for Startups: how to get great press coverage for your business.
The Insights Summit, now in its tenth year, is Speedinvest’s opportunity to gather its impressive portfolio of founders for a day of learning and celebration. Nearly 400 founders were in attendance, ranging from recently-funded seed stage entrepreneurs to those running unicorns and serial founders with decades of experience at the helm of Europe’s most successful tech companies.
The PR for Startups session took place on one of the breakout stages and fellow speakers included Alice Pelton (founder of The Lowdown) and journalist Patricia Allen (Head of Content at EU Startups). Together we were tasked with providing tangible and actionable advice for an audience of founders about how to navigate the complex world of PR and media relations.
The discussion began with the ‘why’: looking at what makes PR so important for startups and how founders can identify the point in their business’s growth at which they should hire a PR agency. We explained the differences between an agency and freelance support and added Ballou’s expertise on the respective merits of the different types of PR, such as B2B, consumer and employer branding.
Patricia then kicked off the ‘who’ section with her ‘dos and don’ts’ of pitching to journalists, and explained how features, news and opinion beats differ in practice. The conversation included brief explanations of terms like ‘embargo’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘off the record’, before returning to the practical advice; looking at what founders should do in an interview.
The workshop concluded with a brief Q&A before the audience returned for the final main stage sessions. Scott Sandell, Managing General Partner at NEA, gave a thought-provoking closing speech in which he assessed the state of VC across Europe and compared it with previous periods of uncertainty and flux. Scott’s main takeaway for founders was: ‘limit your risk, extend your runway and the best businesses will still get funded – no matter what the market is doing’.