Managing Startup PR In A Crisis

Rightfully so, COVID-19 is dominating the headlines across all media channels. David Gerzof Richard will give his playbook for crafting COVID-19 adjacent narratives for your startup that will engage media contacts and create PR for your startup.


David Gerzof Richard is the CEO and founder of BIGfish PR, a public relations agency headquartered in Boston that represents publicly traded companies, sovereign nations, professional athletes, social impact brands and white-hot start-ups. In addition to running BIGfish, he is a partner at GreatPoint Ventures, a professor of public relations and digital media at Emerson College, a lecturer at Harvard University, a social impact investor, and a curator for Summit Series. He holds a master’s degree from Emerson College and a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Prior to founding BIGfish, David served as Director and Company Spokesperson for Cignal Global Communications, an international voice and data carrier he helped form in 1995. Cignal was acquired by UGC’s Priority Telecom in 2000.


Communication During a Pandemic

  • Be human – empathize and don’t exploit. There have been plenty of cringe-worthy news moments so you know what to avoid. Think about your brand through empathetic eyes: how are you helping others in your industry and community?
  • Communication during a pandemic starts from the top down. Messages from the CEO are key – this is how to best communicate with the stakeholders. Leadership needs to have an active voice right now.
  • Ask yourself what an extended absence of communication mean for your brand instead of asking when is the right time to turn PR outreach back on.

Earned Content

  • There’s been a massive change in audience behavior over the past two months. Screen time is through is the roof and less radio is consumed due to less commuting. This creates a huge opportunity for screen content. Broadcast news is also making a massive comeback and they’re actively looking for stories.
  • A lot has changed in the media environment including: audience interests, the stories getting coverage, shifts in news distribution platforms.
  • When pitching your startup for media, practice grace.

Owned Content

  • Use your own social media platforms to talk about the good that you’ve been doing for your industry and community.
  • Youtube is the second largest search platform in the world – if you don’t have stories to share for earned media, consider putting together a series on trends you’re seeing for Youtube.
  • If not Youtube, try LinkedIn. The number of posts on LinkedIn has dropped significantly but remember that the amount of screen time has increased. That means this is the perfect time to put quality content out there on LinkedIn.

The New Normal

  • Spend time thinking about “the new normal.” What does the new normal look like for your brand and your industry? How can you keep your startup relevant in the new normal? How can you weave your startup into the new narrative? How does that relate to PR for your startup?
  • What are the indictors for the new normal? If you collect data, use your own statistics, facts, and indicators to help tell the story about what the new normal is.

Thank you David for taking time out of your day to share your expertise with the greater Venture Lane community!

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