How to control the cost of PR for your tech startup

Sam Lauron
How to control the cost of PR for your tech...

Great PR doesn’t have to come at the expense of your marketing team’s overall budget. 

Whether you’re in the process of creating a PR budget for your tech startup or are revising last year’s budget, there are a few things to evaluate if you want to get the most value out of PR without losing control of the budget. 

Here’s what you can do to control the cost of PR for your tech startup. 

Avoid an RFP

An RFP, or request for proposal, is a process that some B2B companies use to hire a PR firm. It involves creating a document that explains the particular needs of your company, the capabilities you expect from a PR firm, the timeline of the review process, and a budget limit or range you prefer the firms to observe. While this process is seemingly efficient, it limits who will participate and doesn’t necessarily bring forth the best PR firm for your tech startup — especially if you are working with a tight budget. 

Pursuing an RFP involves a lot of work for the PR firm, which means it’s entirely possible some smaller firms may not choose to participate if they feel like the work required is onerous or the number of firms participating is large. Result? You may end up with fewer, larger firms able to play the RFP lottery, which means you could pay higher fees to larger firms with less agility to adapt to your startup journey.

Avoiding an RFP altogether will help your tech startup control the cost of PR and give you the option to work with a tech PR agency that is as flexible and agile as your startup.  

Restructure agency fees 

If you have been working with a tech PR agency, then consider a fee negotiation going into the new year. Keep in mind that it is in the PR firm’s best interest to keep you as a client even if the investment decreases, so there’s no harm in bringing up renegotiation. Revisit the PR budget and PR plan and decide if there are components you no longer need or aren’t getting enough value out of. 

For example, maybe there’s an entire section of the budget dedicated to trade shows. The fees attached to event marketing can be steep, and in a pandemic or post-pandemic environment, those dollars may better serve you if they’re put towards digital marketing or online lead generation. 

Another way to control the cost is to go with a lower base level engagement and price out other services you may need later on an a la carte basis. These days, many smaller and more agile tech PR firms are able to flex with tech startups in ways large agencies simply can’t match.

Cancel your PR tool subscriptions

This may seem like a minor cost but subscription fees for media databases or other PR tools can add up. Reevaluate your monthly subscriptions and cut out the ones that you don’t need. 

For lean tech startups who aren’t yet working with a tech PR agency, much of what you need in terms of media contacts can actually be found by doing some basic online research. Keyword searches and researching past news coverage of your competition can uncover many, if not all, of the most relevant news outlets and journalists you should reach out to. 

Pro tip: Don’t overlook LinkedIn or Twitter to connect or gather information on media outlets and journalists. These platforms make it easy to build relationships with the media on a more casual, cost-free level which is key if you don’t have the budget to work with a tech PR agency yet. 

Tailor your media outreach 

While tools like wire services have traditionally been considered a good way to share announcements or press releases with a wide audience, tech startups should rethink using them. Wire services can be costly; not to mention, smaller tech startups rarely enjoy news coverage from distributing press releases over a wire anyway. 

Instead, consider a more tailored approach to media outreach. Not only is this more cost effective, but, when done right, tailoring your media outreach through a tech PR agency or DIY strategies can yield greater results than a wire service. 

PR is a research and relationship game where news pickups happen after you research which journalists are more likely to be interested in your announcement and then courting that journalist over time to secure news coverage in the future. If you either cancel your news wire service completely or at least cut it back by 50% you could save thousands of dollars over the next year.

About Sam Lauron: Sam is a Content Marketing Manager for Swyft, which is a tech PR agency 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,

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