I talk to a lot of startup founders who have little knowledge of PR other than an idea that their company should be in TechCrunch. While placements are an easily identifiable result of any PR effort (we sure like to trumpet them on our site), they ultimately are not why a startup should hire a PR firm.
In fact, three main consideration trump all others when it comes time to decide whether to hire a startup PR firm, and only you can decide which of them should influence your decision.
Reason #1 – I’m a Startup Founder, So I Don’t Have Time
As a PR firm, we get excited when we are able to tap our skills and expertise to bring you results that you can’t get on your own. But the fact is that a portion of a PR firm’s function is quite simply outsourcing.
We of course have specialized knowledge and contacts that make PR more efficient and effective, but there’s little secret sauce for much of what we do – we are simply a way to save you, the startup founder, valuable time.
Reason #2 – I’m a Startup Founder, So I Am Impatient
Many startup founders do their own PR, and I have no doubt that many reporters enjoy hearing from them directly. However, finding the right reporter, producer or blogger, staying up to speed with their work and building connections over text, email and Twitter (and the occasional bourbon) is difficult to handle while simultaneously tackling fundraising, product development, recruiting and so on.
A good PR firm either has many of these relationships already built, or the talent to quickly ramp them up.
Reason #3 – I’m a Startup Founder, So I Need the Extraordinary
The best PR firms like to serve this startup need – to be extraordinary. Although there are unlimited resources online for how to build a PR plan, to draft a press release, to write a good pitch, the best of us bring something extra to the table.
What is that something extra? It might be taking a niche product and making it relevant to a mainstream audience. It may be capturing the essence of a brand in a one-sentence summary. It may be capitalizing on seemingly unrelated events to gain attention.
This is where the skill of PR and communications comes through loudest, and where folks like us start earning our outrageous(ly reasonable) fees.
So while there are scores of reasons to do PR (credibility, awareness, recruiting, valuation, competition, etc.), there are just those three reasons above to hire a firm.
Whether you do or don’t simply is simply a function of how big of an issue each one of the reasons is for you and your startup. If you’re a founder with no time at all but want the exposure PR brings, then hire a firm. If you have a funding announcement in a couple of weeks, or need attention ahead of SXSW in three months, then hire a firm. If your messaging thuds instead of inspires, if it fails to capture the essence of your brand, then hire a firm.
I would love to share more on this topic – if you’d like to discuss it please email me!