Digital PR and communication at the heart of the strategy

digital PR

An introduction on Digital PR for startups

How can Digital PR help the growth of a startup? Let’s talk to an expert.

Let’s meet Carlo Occhinegro, digital PR and communication expert!

Launching a company or a brand by telling its story is essential for achieving great results. Interview with Carlo Occhinegro, Digital PR Coordinator of Startup Geeks.

Carlo has been working in corporate communication for more than 5 years and has specialized in Digital PR, influencer marketing and crisis communication. 

A great passion to conceive and create the best communication strategy to meet Client’s objectives.

How did your passion for Digital PR and the world of startup and innovation come about?

I started this job doing an internship at the press office of Tor Vergata University of Rome. My role, in addition to editor of university communications, consisted to contribute to the college magazine telling stories of university startups. From that experience I understood that was the job I liked to do but, above all, I wanted to do it with people aimed and focused to bring innovation to the world, that is startup. 

Afterwards, I started with one of the first legal tech startup in Italy as Digital PR consultant and at that moment I decided that I would do this job.

Today you are also an Innovation Writer for Tiscali with a column on innovation in Italy, what are the main topics you deal with?

I talk mostly of startups because it is my daily bread but there are also associations and other companies which undertake innovative projects and I like to give them a voice. 

Another topic that I really like is the digital life and the world of work which requires, on one hand, to share good practices and, on the other hand, to clean up all toxic narratives which lead, especially the new generations, to think that working in digital market is easy and extremely profitable. With other words it is my two cents to fight fake news.

You started your collaboration with Startup Geeks since its birth, what was the target you set at that time? You have been their voice, telling their story to Italian media and you managed to get one of the founders in the list of Forbes under 30. What is your secret? What was your initial strategy for Startup Geeks and what other goals have you achieved with them?

Startup Geeks and I met through a sponsored adv., that was one of first videos and Alessio and Giulia explained me their mission: to make the startup world innovative, well-known, and connected. A mission that I felt mine from the beginning and led me to contact them and promote their project through Digital PR. I liked to think that my work could spread the news of this passionate project to as many people as possible, to share with them its essence. 

There is no secret to obtain a result with Digital PR but there is a methodology, creativity and way of thinking that depend on the single PR. 

With Startup Geeks, but with any other startup, at the beginning, we have explained the problem for which the startup was conceived and founded, described the proposed solution, and so we have done since the first press releases. 

To date, we have more than 250 publications which illustrate Startup Geeks, their growth and all the activities being done so far, to improve the Italian startup ecosystem.

With Startup Geeks you launched a Digital PR service for startups and SMEs and you managed to release 63 publications in a month, but how did you got it? You have a dedicated team which supports you in following over 30 companies for Digital PR activities and to issue 300 publications in the last semester. Who are your customers and why are they so interested to use this service? What are the goals they want to achieve with it?

The number of publications is not so important, what matters are the objectives to be reached, the real needs of startup and also the newsworthiness level of the story. 

The clients I work with are usually of two types: startups which need to be introduced to market and scaleups or structured SMEs that want to improve their market positioning. 

The former must announce through the media their existence and explain their proposal to solve a problem with an innovative solution, the latter must continue to tell the story of their company highlighting news but also their results. The Digital PR goal is to give awareness to a project, improve market positioning so that stakeholders know who the company is and what it does and, above all, that it does not do; finally, there is the brand reputation understood as all those features that make the brand unique.

But what is Digital PR and why it is so important? When would you recommend a startup to go alone and when, instead, to require your support?

Digital PR are an evolution of Public Relations that allow a company, an agency, or a freelancer to speak to their target audiences. Therefore, it is important to work on target and not to talk about the number of publications but rather about publications and activities in target. To tell the truth, Digital PR is much more because now new media are different from traditional ones, although they, anyway, have a different power from the other media, we all know. In my opinion, every company should have a Digital PR consultant to rely on because it is important to be able to track down the new media are, for example, the influencers that we can define as real television channels. But Digital PR are activated when the company is ready to receive media attention or when the project, if we are talking about startups, is validated and on the market. In my opinion every company should have a Digital PR consultant to rely on because it is important to succeed identifying their audiences and communicate with them in the best way. That is why there are many Communication Managers and CMOs who often also hold this role. However, Digital PR, especially if you want to intercept different audiences through media relations, influencer marketing or events, require a lot of time and vertical specialization on the subject. If you have no experience or a short time on the subject, then a figure like mine enters in the overall picture and shall be engaged.  

What is your operative process for providing this service to the entrepreneur?

Usually after a first acquaintance call, I evaluate the feasibility of the project. There are some fields such as fashion, beauty or the whole mother/child world that are fields that I succeed to manage at corporate level while at the product level there are dynamics that, till now, I do not have the workforce to develop. 

The evaluation develops in a second level studying the media market: before accepting a job, I want first to know on which magazines I can try to propose that story, to give my clients a clear and complete picture of what I can do. Each story is different from the others and has a different audience and therefore different publications. 

Then, if my analysis is successful, I ask the entrepreneur which goals they want to achieve with this activity: Digital PR without a well-defined goal may be useless. 

Sometimes you may be in the phase of closing deals with investors or opening a crowdfunding campaign and, therefore, Digital PR are strategic for this purpose, or you aim to shed light on the potential of a product or service. The definition of the objectives and a transparent planning of the real opportunities of the brand is the basis to build a trusted relationship and to have clear view how the work might go.

We peeked a bit through the news and found some of your success stories, what can you tell us more about the achievements with some companies such as Graffiti, Starting Finance Deal, Mine Crime, Serendipity, NS12, Sommelier Wine Box, LinCO, SmartPricing and Open.Ice.Enjoy?

They are all extremely different realities but with enormous potential and this is evident also from the results they achieved in terms of Digital PR. However, what they have in common is the level of innovation of their projects. 

Usually, people think that it is enough to have a business to be able to use Digital PR, to be able to narrate it, but this is not the case. The elements that make a story interesting and appealing to media are the innovations that the company aims to bring. I am not talking about technology, many of the mentioned customers do not use technology. I am talking about responding in a concrete way to a problem, with a solid, helpful, and interesting solution. In fact, many of them not only run “business” in the strict sense of term, but also manage blogs, communication channels in which they shed light on a problem and explore it in the widest possible way. These activities are also relevant to media, which are thus able to have a more comprehensive idea of ​​what is the company scope. 

If you are interested in Startup Geeks, please read more on: Incubator online: the Startup Geeks case and Incubator succeeded with a 170,000 euro fundraising

if you are interested in storytelling topics, we also report Corporate Storytelling, key driver for brand communication and Storytelling books: the top 20 in our opinion

If you are interested in Digital PR, please read also the interview with Enzo Rimedio Digital PR and Brand Reputation for companies and startups