For startups looking to hire a tech PR firm for the first time, this question is bound to be top of mind. It’s a legitimate question, and something even B2B SaaS CEOs struggle to navigate.
To come to an understanding of how much media coverage a tech company can expect from a given engagement, it’s worth noting that coverage comes in different forms and sizes. The kind of news coverage most tech PR firms refer to is called ‘earned media.’ It’s a simple way of saying that the media willingly covers your news as opposed to you having to pay for its placement. Types of earned media includes articles, mentions, quotes, short summaries, or contributed content.
Before understanding how much media coverage you can expect, there are a few general rules to keep in mind as you look to hire a tech PR firm or analyze how well your current one is performing.
Before you start working with a tech PR firm under the assumption that they will seamlessly be able to land your startup in the top tech media outlets, it’s crucial to understand the media landscape. There is a finite and fairly defined amount of media coverage available to a company in a given industry based on the number of media outlets and the average amount of content they produce in a given period of time. For this article, let’s assume that period spans 12 months.
In the span of a year, around 80% of the total amount of available media coverage will go toward the top 20% of companies in the industry—almost always the dominant players (think Facebook in social media or Tesla in electric vehicles). Before you hire a tech PR firm, you should conduct a comprehensive audit of your industry media coverage to figure out your startup’s media potential. This audit will help determine how many pieces were produced for each competitor over the past year and what numbers to strive for over the coming year.
If your startup is somewhere in the lower or middle part of the pack when it comes to getting media coverage, then you could reasonably expect that a larger investment in PR would almost always lead to more media coverage.
One huge factor involved in determining how much news coverage you can expect is how many newsworthy announcements you will have in a given year. Newsworthy announcements refer to product launches, growth (expanding to new markets, hitting a revenue goal, or leasing a larger office), funding rounds, or major client wins.
If you’ve already created a PR or marketing strategy for the year, then you should have an idea of the big picture when it comes to events or announcements in your startup’s pipeline. Using this timeline of anticipated product launches or funding rounds, you can determine how many potential PR campaigns your startup may have. In order to generate brand awareness and positive publicity through earned media, it takes action and momentum on your startup’s end.
The ROI of PR
For many startups, spending more on PR will almost always yield a greater amount of media coverage. However, finding the right balance between PR spend and more media coverage may take time and a little experimenting.
That being said, it’s important to note that no amount of PR will magically get your company into a sizable number of media outlets. As mentioned above, that only happens if your company is actively growing and doing the things that interest the media. As a startup, being disruptive should be your main goal, and your disruptive qualities should be backed by proper investment.
Tech PR firms or internal communication professionals are brought on to capture, articulate, package and distribute your startup’s news announcements. They help develop long-term communications strategies, leverage relationships with the media and continuously monitor tech news to recommend new ideas. Pairing outsourced skills in media relations with an internally developed brand story and desired product or service is sure to make your investment worth it.
So, what should you expect?
Let’s say that your tech startup plans to do up to five product launches/product upgrades in the coming year. Let’s also assume you hire a top tech PR firm and allow them to package up case studies to take to the media, as well as aggressively pursue thought leadership content (contributed articles, speaking opportunities, panels) and business awards.
You could expect an average of 4 to 8 media pick-ups per month, and close to 48-100 unique pieces of media coverage that range from one-off quotes to full-blown articles. Keep in mind that in the world of startup PR, that amount of coverage is a LOT. You would definitely be a leader in your chosen industry vertical and position yourself for faster growth.
The key is to hire an experienced tech PR firm and truly partner with them. Bring them into a close orbit with your marketing team so that they can help you seize on every PR opportunity possible. The more you invest into a relationship with your PR firm, both in dollars and time spent, the greater the amount of news coverage you can expect.
(Full disclosure: Austin PR firm, Swyft always develops a variety of KPIs to measure performance. Counting articles is just one way to approximate success; it should be factored in with other valuable metrics that you set up at the start of every PR engagement.)
About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a Senior Communications Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.