Start-up Communications – Part 1

As founder of a start-up, you have a lot on your plate. Many challenges might be a first. Incorporating communications into your daily activities can seem daunting. That’s why we have created a simple guide with the most important tasks in communications so you know exactly what you want to allocate budget and time for – and for you to decide wether to hire someone, or do the first few steps on your own. 


You certainly have a reason why you decided to start your business. Maybe you already have a purpose for your business – what drives you: The values that are important to you as an entrepreneur, your vision that you pursue with your company. The purpose of a company is very important for communication, because it distinguishes your company from others in the market.

And there are many occasions to communicate your corporate purpose. A short glance at your calendar already shows plenty of opportunities to address potential customers, the media and the public. Your own corporate development in the coming weeks and months will deliver new product information, launches, openings of new branches, new business partnerships and the like. In addition: due to your expertise, you can make an assessment of developments in your industry and share it in the social and classic media.

02: Target Groups

A lot helps a lot does not necessarily apply to communications. And media range isn’t always as relevant as it looks. Especially for start-ups, it is important to make clever use of your limited financial resources. Use your funds strategically and employ communications to reach exactly those people who will benefit the most from your business. These could be potential customers or employees, industry-relevant multipliers, but also potential investors or future partners.

Think carefully about who is relevant for you and who comes second; on that basis choose your communication channels and content. With our STRATEGY NAVIGATOR, we can help you identify and evaluate the most relevant and most promising target groups and stakeholders that your communication must (!) address.

03: Touchpoints

Target groups can obtain information in many different places. But omnichannel does not mean they are all relevant to you. Analyzing your stakeholder journey, you know where the most important intersections are between you and your stakeholders. A proper stakeholder journey highlights the hotspots of interaction between important target groups and your company and its products. Offline as well as online.

These might be well-known places to you, but this time you will use them differently: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Co. Our STRATEGIC MAPPING supports you with designing your touchpoint map for each group of stakeholders, based on their corporate relevance.

04: Content Creation

Content can give you a competitive advantage, if it leads to higher awareness, creates interest, and triggers conversions. Not only in terms of sales, but also for other business objectives. For this reason, content development needs to follow the goals set in your communications strategy. The content mission statement, the core messaging, and the brand narrative will guide the planning and creation processes.

Depending on your products / services, you will use text, images, videos or podcasts to transport your messages. Your objectives and the target groups’ preferences determine the format, style, message intensity, and the tone & voice of your content.

With a little insight and experience, there are many things you can do yourself. Feel free to ask us about the Black Dolphin How-to guides for content creation & PR copy writing. We will also help you with professional content creation if you would rather focus on other business tasks.

05: Publishing

Now all you have to do is use your content to engage with your target audience. And you will utilize different channels to attract, inform and convert (trigger to interact).

You have a company website that is tailored to the needs of your target groups. This is where your most important content should go. The website strategy and structure will tell you where to place individual parts. You can also install a Corporate Content Center, which is used by all your different stakeholder groups. A Corporate Content Center is a quality source for researching journalists, employee candidates, as well as consumers who are looking for hard facts. Here you can create your own blog to push your topics, keep visual content available for different media genres to download and have contact details for journalists and customers.

You use your social media channels to spread your content. Many start-ups already view social media as more valuable than traditional media. However, unless your data tells a different story, social content is not what sells. Rather, it is used to direct stakeholders to your website, where you can inspire them and trigger action.

Part of the content that you want to use to create awareness and trust will go to your media contacts. Working with the media should form and integral part of any company’s standard communications repertoire. But don’t spend too much time on large-scale dissemination. In many cases, specialized journalists are more useful, as they multiply the qualitative perception of your message immensely. They help to build your reputation.

Please do not hesitate to ask us for creative and logistic support in content marketing – we have enough to share.

06: Measuring Success

Evaluating the success of communication is not as straight forward as in other business units. Impactful communications are by far not limited to supporting sales campaigns. Their greatest value is to be found in building a good reputation and develop relationships, which both support long-term success, e.g. when you want to hire new talents or decide for strategic business alliances.

And even if they are linked to sales, the value of communications is not “units sold”. Because even abandoned shopping carts in your online store tell you that your communications were very successful. Likewise, if your objective was to hire employees, your communications may have directed quite a few promising candidates into your office, which didn’t sign on, due to other reasons.

A marketing approach to measure success is the traditional advertising value equivalent (AVE). It tells you how much advertising money you saved and adds a PR bonus for added value in terms of trustworthiness. But while in print media the latter can be quantified to some extent, in online media it can’t.

Searchable online PR placements have a much longer lifetime than their print equivalents. Also, consider that stakeholders need different information, depending on their state of awareness. If one of the most visited trust-building pieces on one of your products is an article in an online magazine favored by millions of people, including your target groups, this article will be priceless.

In content marketing, success can be measured in the quantity and intensity of user interaction. You can measure likes, shares, website traffic, bounce rates, clicks, and lead generation. In online PR, you can also do referral tracking and conversion tracking.

In general and as far as possible, you will want to be as specific as you can when measuring success. Use very specific KPI for your communication activities. This way you will always be able to tell whether you are on the right track or need to readjust.


We are happy to help you in setting up your communications as well as business relevant KPI and support you with AI-based analysis tools to evaluate the impact your communication has in the market. But before you get lost in the plethora of success measurement tools, the most important point remains point 01 of this quick guide: Be clear about what you want to communicate and achieve!


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Author: Joe Wiedemann
Joe Wiedemann is a partner of BLACK DOLPHIN, a communications consultancy in Germany, Austria and UK. He is specialized in communication strategy, brand development, content management & creation, PR, and large network coordination. Joe joined the Black Dolphin collaborative as a Vienna-based communication expert with 20+ years of successfully advising SMEs, startups, and internationals. Joe has worked for agencies, like Edelman, and has held global PR management positions at Deutsche Post/DHL Express, Hyundai Motor, and Borgward Group AG.