A friend of mine is starting a new company. When I asked him to tell me about it, he described it as a grassroots public affairs firm. I lived in Washington, D.C. for 10 years of my life and was constantly around political-types, but when it came to understanding what a grassroots public affairs firm did, I was at a loss.

It was mainly the term “public affairs” that was tripping me up. It reminded me of calling a company a “consulting” firm – filler that doesn’t really tell you much. That brings us to the tagline – a sort of micro-elevator pitch for your company. The tagline is important both in PR pitching and in the written articles that ultimately appear.

When we talk about Propllr, we describe it as a  public relations firm that builds credibility and awareness for startups and growth companies. When thinking about your company’s tagline, here are some things to consider:

  • Who, what and where: To effectively describe your company, whether it is a startup or an established business, answer these three questions: Who does your company serve? What products/services does it provide? And, where does it do it? The “why” can be left for the spokesperson to address in more detail during the interview.
  • Avoid superlatives: If the tagline describes you as the “largest” or “best,” it is ultimately going to be cut out. By not including these phrases in the first place, you can have full control over the message – instead of ceding that control to the reporter or editor.
  • Cut the marketing speak: While marketing speak is supposed to help communicate with prospects, it turns off reporters. And, what phrases and words they may not understand, they will change with words they consider more straight forward. Often, these substitutions include inaccurate or overly vague phrases.
  • Keep it short: For reporters – especially any articles that may appear in print – the need to briefly describe the company is of paramount importance. Again, in order to fully control the message and keep it off the editor’s chopping block, make sure every word serves a purpose.
  • Different audiences may need different modifiers: When speaking to different audiences, certain words may be unnecessary, even implied. However, with other audiences, they may be critical. Know when to use these modifiers to your company’s advantage.

For my friend, I finally had him describe grassroots public affairs to me in this way – “companies that spur citizen action on legislative issues.” That’s something that everyone inside and outside the political sphere can understand. From that baseline, it is easier to talk about what differentiates the company from its competitors and its specific approach.

– MRM