Elevating Your Startup Community in the National PressSeptember 30, 2015
In the 55+ years that DCI has been working in economic development, we have seen trends ebb and flow and industries elevate and subside across our cities, states and regions in which we work.
In the 1990s, corporate headquarters were the big target and the marker used for measuring success. In 2007, the real estate sector stole the headlines as communities worked to alleviate fears after major real estate bubbles burst across the country. In 2010, “on-shoring” became the mantra, in reference to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. after the deep job losses seen at the close of the prior decade.
Today, it’s all about the startups. Across the country, in states more predictable and those more surprising, we are finding an ever-increasing momentum to attract attention to regional startup communities. Whether through social media or collective branding, cities are working hard to get the word out about the opportunity for entrepreneurial success in their place.
The interesting thing, though, as seen in this infographic just released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week, is that startup “starts” are actually a smaller segment of our economic growth than they have been in the past. What that means is – promoting your startup community is becoming more of a priority but we’re all fighting for a smaller pool of entrepreneurs than there was a few years ago. Entrepreneurial audiences are thus skeptical, and they’re demanding proof.
Making Your Mark with Media
There’s one sure-fire way to prove your point, and that’s through earned media. In our media relations work, journalists are more skeptical of these ‘next Silicon Valley’ stories than ever before, and those reporting skeptics are acting as the first filter for our ultimate audience’s eyes.
While it’s challenging, here at DCI we are finding success , and we want to share with you a few key ways we have been able to deliver national media headlines around regionalized startup hubs:
1. Stand out for something, not everything.
Like Orlando has chosen to do with video gaming or Salinas, Calif. with agriculture, cities need to identify their ‘deepest bench’ and use that strength to convey the entrepreneurial opportunity in the market. Here are just a couple of the great national headlines DCI has helped these focused cities secure:
Bloomberg: Orlando: The New Silicon Valley of Gaming?
Fast Company: Why the World’s Salad Bowl Wants to Go High Tech
2. Convey the lifestyle your community offers. Then the entrepreneurs will flock.
If attracting entrepreneurial eyes and ears is your goal, make sure they know just how well-rounded your community is and the welcoming nature it offers to newcomers. Focus on getting the word out about how fun and inviting your place is, and then remind those entrepreneurs that technology can help them establish their virtual business anywhere. Check out what a great job Charleston, South Carolina and Amsterdam are both doing in this arena:
Fast Company: Introducing ‘Silicon Harbor’ Charleston
U.S. News & World Report: Amsterdam Innovates
3. Show them the money.
Venture capital is the key lynchpin that turns a napkin-sketch, entrepreneurial idea into a thriving, job-creating business. Don’t forget to measure and convey the venture capital in your market and make sure that the world knows where they can find that pot of gold that they need to succeed. This piece about Cincinnati’s rich pool of venture capital did a great job of delivering that very message:
Huffington Post: Tech Startup Funding in the Midwest – Cincinnati Says No Problem
4. Pick a targeted demographic, and don’t let up.
Denver, a longtime DCI client, has zeroed in – with tenacious focus – on the millennial audience. Those millennials might work for big companies, but they also might be the next great entrepreneur, so the Metro Denver region focuses on tracking their millennial data and inward migrants. This specific demographic focus makes their startup ecosystem story more measurable than others and has helped our DCI team earn some great top-tier media placements. Check them out:
The Wall Street Journal: Denver Job Market Lures Millennials
Does your city, state or region have its own startup cluster that deserves some national attention? Let us know, and we can help you identify your most distinguishing characteristics that can help you get the national media coverage you need to stand out in today’s crowded entrepreneurial market.