Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Communications Strategy is Necessary but Not Sufficient

I read with interest Peter Rip's "Early Stage VC" blog today. He talks about a trend he sees among early stage entrepreneurs that is worrisome: companies that think of bloggers as the target of their business rather than as an indirect channel for reaching their market targets.

This point underscores a trend we see every couple of years: young companies thinking that PR (that is, speaking to the media or their current incarnation) is the whole ballgame in terms of creating a market and marketing strategy. While having a sophisticated communications strategy can be very valuable to a young company, it is NOT a substitute for a balanced business strategy. For young companies, excellent communications can help to influence important markets. But we, as does Peter apparently, worry when we hear companies thinking that bloggers are the target in and of themselves.

All of that said, don't get me wrong: influencing influencers has been a critical part of a strategic communications program for as long as I can remember. While today some of the influencers are bloggers (among others) and therefore important in a communications strategy, they are just a part of well-crafted strategy.

And then, there is the corollary question: When should the communications strategy be put in place? We believe (as we have said elsewhere in this blog) that a communications architecture is important from the beginning of a company. Mind you, that doesn't mean that all companies should necessarily distract themselves to get "ink" too early in their lives. They just need to know how they want to be perceived and systematically move the needle in that direction.

There is no cookbook that applies to every young company. That's why having thoughtful communicators as team members or partners can be very valuable to a young company.