How (and Why) to Use PR to Champion Your Customers

There's no greater success story for your startup than a happy customer.

But in some ways, that's the easy part: your startup exists because you're good at what you do. The tricky part is getting that happy customer's story out so other potential customers can appreciate your capabilities.

This is at the heart of PR that champions customers.

The Propllr team has worked hard this year to help our clients champion their customers by securing great interview opportunities focused on the customer story. As a result, we’ve not only helped them attract new business – we’ve helped them build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with the customers they already have.

Here’s how you can do the same.

What Does it Mean to “Champion” Your Customers?

Simply put, championing your customer means putting them in the spotlight.

You can do this by positioning your customer as the hero of the story – no matter what marketing or PR channel you use to tell that story. You’re probably already sharing customer stories in case studies, on social media, or on your podcast.

PR is yet another channel where you can champion your customers. This can take a few forms:

But why spend the time doing all this work championing your customers? There are three main benefits:

  1. Stronger customer relationships over time.
  2. An ongoing excuse to stay in touch.
  3. Visibility for prospective customers into the value you provide.

Customer Championship in Action

Now let’s take a look at how startups have successfully used PR to champion their customers – and how you can steal their secrets.

Champion PR Opportunity #1: Press Release

The Action: Mobile device management startup Addigy published a press release that featured an approved quote from one of its customers explaining how Addigy’s software helped them navigate new IT and security standards as a result of remote work due to COVID.

The Result: After our media team shared the press release with a major IT trade publication, the editor requested an interview with Addigy’s customer – which resulted in a stellar media placement.

How to Do it Yourself:

  1. Identify notable company or customer news (new product, company milestone, growth) to announce in a press release.
  2. Find a customer the news impacts and ask if they’d be willing to provide a quote for the release.
  3. Send your PR team out to pitch the news and offer your customer who’s quoted in the release as a source for the reporter’s story.
  4. Prep your customer for the interview (if and when your PR team secures an opportunity) so that it results in a strong profile story. Share and promote it when it goes live!

Champion PR Opportunity #2: Award Nomination

The Action: SaaS fintech Total Expert nominated executives at several customer companies for awards.

The Result: Total Expert’s customers received multiple award wins in 2020. Promotion of those wins skyrocketed social media engagement for Total Expert and its customers.

How to Do it Yourself:

  1. Find industry awards that your customers are a great fit for.
  2. Decide whether your team wants to nominate your customers as a surprise. If not, notify the customer ahead of time that you’re going to nominate them.
  3. Work with your customer relationship manager to uncover specific metrics and accomplishments that meet (and exceed) the nomination requirements – then draft and submit.
  4. Celebrate any wins you get by sharing the exciting news with customers and showering them with praise on social media and your blog.

Champion PR Opportunity #3: Media Interviews

The Action: Food delivery startup Chowbus identified mom-and-pop restaurants that have successfully pivoted to take-out-only dining during COVID.

The Result: Our media team secured multiple reporter interviews, which resulted in national media attention for Chowbus’s customers.

How to Do it Yourself:

  1. Find customers who have great success stories – reporters love tangible results.
  2. Reach out via email to ask if they’re willing to talk about their work with your company.
  3. With your PR team, discuss which publications might be interested in the story.
  4. Prepare your customer for the interview just as you would your CEO or another senior leader – your PR team should help with this.
  5. After the article runs, share with it your customer and coach them on how to leverage the PR win for even more visibility.

Getting Customers On Board

We’d be remiss not to acknowledge that it can (sometimes) be a challenge to get customers on board with PR – especially if they’re speaking on your behalf.

Maybe your customers don’t want to give up their “secret sauce” (aka that they use your technology and / or platform). Or perhaps your customer success team is sensitive about engaging customers for PR opportunities because of a nuance in the relationship.

Our advice: first, lean on your customer success leaders to help you identify strong customer relationships and / or stories. And when necessary, have your founder or CEO mandate it.

And second: connect with your PR team to map out a plan for how to approach customers about pitching them for media opportunities or nominating them for an award.

Championing your customer by putting them – not your own business – in the media spotlight is a great way to build the relationship even further, get great press for your clients, and get attention for your business. We hope you give it a shot!

Have great customer stories but not still sure how to leverage them for media opportunities? Reach out to our PR team – we’d love to help!