PR Crisis Communication Guide for Quantum Startups

Crisis Communication
Crisis Communication
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Crisis Communication
Quantum startups are especially vulnerable in the current economic crisis. Making sure you are communicating — it isn’t a coping mechanism, it’s a survival skill. (Credit: Pixabay)

Historically, in times of economic crisis, the first thing that businesses cut back on is public relations and communications. When staffing cuts are made during these times, it’s usually the marketing, advertising, and communications staff that feels the sharp edge of most of that ax.

But, also historically, companies that cut back in times of crisis are likely to either not make it through the pull-back, or, if they do, they face stiff competition from businesses that grabbed market share (on the cheap) from them.

For startups, especially quantum computer startups, the current economic crisis comes on top of (or maybe was triggered by) a global health crisis that demands isolation. In this case, word-of-mouth is not longer an option. There won’t be conferences, there will be limited travel, and meetings will likely go online, if at all. The chance of serendipitous run-ins with potential clients, customers and partners will be curtailed.

PR Crisis Communication Guide

In light of these, here are a few tips from a PR Crisis Communication guide to keep in mind while we build the quantum era through some super challenging times.

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Aggressively talk about your company, your latest achievements. Do so consistently, even when it may seem that your message is falling on deaf ears.

Shut Up the Urge to Shut Up
The initial impulse for companies facing tough times is to hunker down and focus on the product. It’s not a bad idea, but as noise increases and some message-makers fall silent, this is the time to over-communicate, not under-communicate. Aggressively talk about your company, your latest achievements. Do so consistently, even when it may seem that your message is falling on deaf ears. It will be impossible to time when interest will return to normal subjects, so continually communicating will make sure when attention returns, you’ll be there.

Communicate In New Ways
You probably have some favorite channels of communication. Maybe you pass on the word about your company at trade shows and conferences. Maybe you use news releases. Maybe you’re a social media maniac. Don’t stop using those channels but start to consider other channels. Develop strategies to tell your stories through other channels. Expand your presence, rather than diminish it, as popular opinion would have it.

Focus On Benefits, As Well As Features
In the quantum business, you’re in the tech business. In fact, you’re arguably in the deepest of deep tech businesses. But, you’ll have to learn how to communicate your business proposition to a popular audience. As the number of communicators falls, it may mean that people who can translate your science into practical solutions. One way you can tell stories to broader audiences is to remember to include the benefits of your innovations, not just the number of qubits, the type of quantum technology, etc. How do you envision this helping the world? How can this technology solve problems? What industries will benefit from your products. This copy writing 101 technique is called focusing on the benefits, not just the features.

Here’s a ridiculous idea: use this crisis as a time to create — or expand — your comms team.

Don’t Cut Comm Staff
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, keep your communications staff strong. Here’s a ridiculous idea: use this crisis as a time to create — or expand — your comms team. If you must cut the staff, however, try to find less expensive alternatives. Find freelancers, via Fiverr, and other similar sites for contract and gig workers, to help you generate content.

Help and Share
This is no time to be stingy. Be a good member of the community. Help share other businesses’ stories and recognize their achievements. Share posts on your own social networks. In most cases, they will reciprocate.

Finally, find other partners to help you pass on your news — such as The Quantum Daily. We’re always willing to pass on the good word about new business collaborations, funding, research output, etc.

Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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