The National Incubation Centre (NIC) in Islamabad recently organized a session powered by Jazz Xlr8 titled ‘Reputation Management for Startups’, in which over 40 startup founders participated. The session was conducted by Khayyam Siddiqi, Head of External Communication at Jazz. Siddiqi is also a tech-journalist turned policy and strategic communication professional with 15 years of experience. Siddiqi was also part of the core team that led the reforms in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business initiative – taking Pakistan’s global ranking 28 notches up from 136 to 108 in 2020.
According to Siddiqi, technological advancement, from cloud computing to the Internet of Things and Blockchain, has been encouraging innovation. New businesses are springing up every second, with some disrupting the traditional way of doing things. In such a landscape – where media has limited space, and the audience is bombarded with information via various mediums – young startups need to adopt the right PR approach, so they not only stand out amidst the clutter but can improve their reputation.
He introduced the NIC startups to the fundamentals of PR and the importance of strategic communication, including reputation management and discussed tools and techniques that can help local businesses scale and adopt the right approach to identifying and reaching out to critical stakeholders. “PR contributes to a company’s credibility. In the long run, it builds brand equity – the perceived value of a brand in the eyes of its stakeholders,” he said.
The young entrepreneurs were also introduced to the Reptrak model of reputation management, which according to Siddiqi allows companies to build four attributes: esteem, trust, admiration and feelings. “It is important to focus on and communicate business performance, thought leadership, sustainability initiatives, innovation, workplace, governance, and products and services as these are a company’s key pillars which create a link between stakeholders and the company.”
He said for most startups, it would be intriguing to know how efforts related to strategic communication permeate into everything corporations do, providing a holistic image of the company and narrating a story that can pique the interest of the right audiences.
During the two-hour interactive session, the entrepreneurs shared their experiences on how communications have helped them scale their businesses. Also, many startups had interesting questions about reaching the right audience and transitioning their storytelling to enhance growth. They also inquired about protecting their reputation, especially in a crisis situation.