When is it time to hire a PR firm?
When you first come up with an idea for a startup, hiring a PR agency is not your first priority. Not even the most talented PR professionals will be able to interest the media...
When you first come up with an idea for a startup, hiring a PR agency is not your first priority. Not even the most talented PR professionals will be able to interest the media until you’ve got something more concrete to offer. But when is that? There’s no easy answer, but here are a number of milestones to consider.
If you’re approaching a seed round, particularly if it’s worth millions of dollars, it’s worth getting in touch with a PR agency to help you get the word out. In some cases you may want to get the word out on social media or tech blogs before the funding round in the hopes of attracting additional investors, but what’s most important is that you have a story to push through to a much wider audience on traditional news outlets like TechCrunch, VentureBeat and Crunchbase.
The range of media outlets that might run with the story after the round will depend on the amount of money you raised and the nature of your business. A seasoned PR pro will be able to identify and reach out to helpful outlets.
If you have products or product line extensions that are going to market in the near future (3-6 months), it’s time to try to generate some interest in the media. You may have a grasp on why your products will appeal to their target audience, but that’s hardly a guarantee that the news business will give them the attention they deserve. An experienced PR agency will know how to pitch your product in a way that is appealing to media outlets by customizing your message to cater to their respective audiences.
If there’s one thing the news media respects, it’s success. If you’re starting to experience rapid growth, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot and parlay your success into positive media attention. You’ll want consistent PR assistance to keep media apprised of your ongoing success.
Growth can come in a variety of ways, too. Since not all startups are necessarily profitable in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey, you may want to focus on customer acquisition or other operational metrics that can wow a journalist. Later, as revenue and profitability grow, that will be the measuring stick by which you will be judged. Until then, get creative.
Doing more with less is a core philosophy of many startup founders, but at some point you may realize that PR is a highly-specialized skill that deserves devoted attention from an experienced professional.
Many startups mistakenly assume that their marketing staff will be able to handle PR, but identifying and developing relationships with reporters, producers, and other media gatekeepers is a process that takes time and that many marketing professionals know very little about. A PR agency that already has strong ties to media leaders will make things a lot easier and ultimately produce much better results.
You may have assigned an employee to deal with PR and it just hasn’t worked out. At this point, you may want to consider that it’s not your company that is failing to resonate with the media, but your PR strategy. It may be time to turn to a PR agency with a record of delivering results.
About Jack Craver: Jack is a copywriter at Swyft, which is a PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers PR in San Francisco.