How to Define the Roles in the Startup’s PR, Marketing, SMM, and SEO Departments

Success as an entrepreneur rarely stems from only an idea. Instead, it evolves from the founding team’s efforts and perseverance. A startup is only as successful as its team members.

In cases where the resources may be more limited, or in cases where the startup is waiting for additional funding to come through, the composition of the founding team becomes that much more critical.

We’ll discuss some of the roles that every business needs on their side. By properly managing the composition and development of the team, the company is in a great place.  They are equipped to shape and define their own company. The company is in a great place to manage their company development.

Public Relations and Marketing Teams

The Public Relations Team and Marketing Team are two different teams, generally speaking. However, in smaller companies, they combine each team’s respective tasks.  One team (comprised of experts in both categories) performs those tasks. At that time, it is not unusual for the small company to pick one label over the other.

It is not the label that matters, but the task(s).

So, as an example, a company labels a team the “Marketing Team” containing members split between the Public Relations Team and the Marketing Team. At this point, it is for simplicity of presentation (and the “About Us” page on their site!) more than anything else.

The important thing is that the company understand the differences.  This is not for semantic reasons, but so that they define the appropriate tasks. And, that is another reason why I have combined these two teams in this section.  It is because there is quite a bit of crossover.

The Difference Between Public Relations and General Marketing

Public Relations (PR) has to do with the outward facing messaging of the brand, or “brand messaging.”

The PR team and the Marketing team need to coordinate enough to ensure consistent brand messaging. This could happen in two different ways.

  1. The PR team could develop the messaging and run it by the Marketing Team for feedback.  When the teams reach a consensus, it is incorporated into the Marketing Team’s resources.
  2. The Marketing Team develops the messaging and the PR team gives their stamp of approval or request for revisions.  The PR team’s response is based on what their expertise dictates when it comes to the brand messaging.

The PR Team is looking toward the perception of clients, vendors, partners, joint ventures, etc. (stakeholders). This is the team that takes a step back and asks how a particular marketing piece or message is perceived.  They assess the perception by all of the relevant stakeholders. If it is not the desired perception, it is the PR Team’s responsibility to recognize that.  It is their responsibility to notify the correct members of other teams (as well as their own).

Reputation Management and Other Tasks

The PR Team is also responsible for handling any critical issues in branding. So, for example, if there were a negative response in reviews or testimonials, it would be the task of the PR team to handle what is called reputation management. The reputation management is also an area to manage proactively.  By doing so, one can prevent critical issues rather than handling them after they are critical to the branding.  This also falls in the lap of the PR Team.

There is no greater value than having people talking about your brand in a positive manner. Someone who can create a buzz about your brand and pique interest is a goldmine. PR specialists usually work together with SMM to create social media strategies. A strong PR department will also handle the following tasks:

  1. Press releases;
  2. Brand development;
  3. Event planning; and
  4. Social networking plan.

The Cheerleaders

Every company needs a team of champion marketers to build credibility and customer loyalty. This group focuses solely on the customer’s needs and desires.  They make sure that every point of contact with the brand is intuitive, clear, and rewarding. This may be a portion of the Public Relations Team but it is a sub-group that focuses on keeping that positive mojo going.

Social Media Marketing Team

The Social Media Marketing (SMM) Team is a very specific team. They are generally responsible for the following three tasks:

  1. Build the social media profiles.
  2. Build the followership of those social media profiles.
  3. Engage people with the social media efforts.  This includes posting on social media.

The SMM Team falls under the general Marketing Team.  It is often a sub-team of that Marketing Team. Fortunately, it is easier to define the tasks the SMM team performs.  However, the definition of the Marketing Team is less precise. The Marketing Team becomes the parent or umbrella team over these sub-teams.

In terms of the SMM team, you need someone who will help bridge the gap.  That is, the gap between you and your target audience.  This is where a social media manager comes into play. A skilled SMM team can boost sales.  They also build communities and drive traffic to your website.  SMM and SEO specialists work together to build interactive strategies.  This increases exposure and the return on investment (ROI).

The inner workings of your startup must function like a well-oiled machine. Stellar social media management requires in-depth knowledge of all the moving parts of your company.  As a sparkling new startup, a team of dedicated social media professionals living and breathing social media is key.

Your social media team helps you make a good impression. Even though your office might close at 5:00 p.m., the social media machine never stops. The cornerstone of any successful startup is providing an excellent customer experience. In the age of smartphones, consumers typically turn to social media with questions and troubleshooting needs. This presents an opportunity to do this role justice.  It allows for performing well.  This moves the brand forward in a positive manner.

Search Engine Optimization Team

Regardless of industry, the need for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is unrelenting. And as we continue moving toward digital marketing, all the more so.  Understanding which keywords work and which don’t work makes a difference.  It is the difference between becoming a household name nonexistent.

A team of SEO specialists can increase sales without emptying the company’s bank account. In addition, SEO can further all of your goals.  This provides a higher ROI than other comparable methods of online marketing.

Similar to the SMM Team, the Search Engine Optimization Team is specialized.  They manage the SEO efforts of the company’s website. It is possible that they are responsible for the outreach efforts.  They oversee the building of links from other sites back to the company site. Some of these tasks fall under Content Marketing. One of the tasks for the SEO Team is that of determining what keywords are the most beneficial.  Then, the SEO Team provides that analysis to the Content Marketing Team.

Like the ambiguity that can occur between the other teams, there is crossover between teams.  But all of the teams could come under the umbrella of the Marketing Team.

See how all of these teams work together and overlap?

In Summary

While there are more roles than this, it is a start.  This helps to get you going. It is also important that you understand the people you have hired.  Understand their skill sets and their personality traits and ability to work with others. By developing a cohesive team, with defined roles and responsibilities, you are more likely to be successful.  This allows the company to increase the income.  It also allows the company to minimize the lost revenue.  That sounds good, doesn’t it?  Let’s go for it!

Featured image: iStockphoto/StockRocket

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