We’re often called out to justify the role PR plays within startup culture. And you know, I can appreciate that. After all, PR is reputed to be (a) expensive and (b) time consuming. Anything expensive or time consuming in a world as fast paced as the one we live in is going to get scrutinized – as it rightfully should.
But here’s the thing: PR and market positioning is critical. It requires work — a lot of work, yet it’s surprisingly one of the last things companies address — right before they plan to ‘launch.’
The reality is, a great PR program starts long before launch. Another harsh reality: it’s a 365-day a year job. It involves building a smart PR strategy (not just a launch plan), developing relationships with journalists and influencers, crafting personalized storylines for a wide variety of opportunities and building an opportunities funnel to span the test of time.
PR people love being PR people. PR skills (like programming, accounting or legal) are developed over years of effort, energy and trial and error. My guess is that most startup founders don’t love trying to be PR people. The best partners in our industry support founders by helping extend their productivity, allowing them to stay committed to what they do best – building amazing products.
Here are five reasons why you may want to consider hiring a PR firm for your startup:
1. PR is not an option, it’s a necessity.
“In my opinion it’s worth its weight in gold. Whether we like to admit it or not, PR drives behavior with customers, investors, employees and competition.”
Mark Suster may have said it best when stating that “it’s worth its weight in gold.” Considering the amount of work PR people do, the weight of that would be pretty heavy — the work of a PR person certainly isn’t between the hours of 9-5, but rather 24/7. With journalists and influencers all around the world, pitching can be done at anytime of the day, no matter where you are.
2. Let the experts do what they do best.
“The problem is, the pitch needs to fit the audience here – and very often they come nowhere near that.”
Danny Brown knows first hand that a lot of people just don’t know how to pitch. (He’s not the first to say it, either…) PR people are paid to find the storyline and tell it with passion. They have meaningful, lasting relationships with journalists and influencers and enough experience to have built up a pretty substantial database full of the do’s and don’t’s of pitching.
3. PR sells Product.
“At the core, what you’re trying to do is get out there and do what you can to sell product. This includes talking to people, finding out what they want, how best to assist them when stuff goes wrong, etc.”
Mickie Kennedy knows the value of what PR can bring to your business. His simple rationale? As long as people are talking about your company, you’re good. If you’re looking to buy a big ticket item, what is the first thing you do? You check your sources, read reviews: you look into it. Great PR lends credibility to your product or service. People are more likely to buy a product that’s been referenced on sites they’re familiar with or talked about by influencers they trust.
4. PR needs to be prioritized.
“Unfortunately, today PR remains one of the most misunderstood marketing channels.”
Conrad Egusa, a former VentureBeat writer got it right when he said that many people overlook what PR is and what it can do for your company. Many companies think that they can do without completely. Unfortunately, many often underestimate the power of PR until it’s too late. When bad press arises or your brand is falling flat, PR is not only your crisis management: it can mean the difference between sink or swim.
5. PR experience comes only over time.
“Public relations is a complex and multilayered craft. Sometimes it is even hard for me to explain the full scope of the field to other people who are not practitioners. An organization that is not using all aspects of the public relations machine in its strategic communications strategy is not realizing its potential.”
PR Daily writer, Staci Harvatin was very clear in her message that PR is not done well by happenstance — it comes in time. Even if you take a PR degree in College, going into the real world and maintaining relationships with journalists and influencers is a whole other ballpark. I’m sure you will keep in touch with some of them you interacted with in college, but your clients may be in a different industry, forcing you to engage with different journalists and influencers.
In the end, you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into your startup. You’ve invested your time and energy and that of others. Protect that investment by adding a little PR. You’ll be happy you did.
Got a great story about how PR saved your investment? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Photo Credit: LifeMoxie