May 8th, 2017 | By: Megan Groves | Tags: Development, Public Relations (PR)
Enlisting the services of a PR firm can put a big dent in your marketing budget. Despite that, many startups will front the money because they believe that getting media attention is the golden ticket to success. It’s that mindset that allows PR agencies to get away with charging a huge chunk of cash.
To hire a PR firm is an expensive venture for any company, but it’s especially painful for startups who don’t have an extensive marketing budget.
Publishing is also not always going to drive the readership or conversions that your company wants. As someone who spent 5 years working for major publishers and media houses, while also being immersed as a leading mentor for top tech startups in Silicon Valley, I can tell you that there are only a few situations that necessitate that you hire a PR firm. Maybe.
Your company’s core story should address the problem that you’re aiming to solve and explaining why it matters. It should include where the idea first came from too. If you’re selling a wristband that predicts when seizures may occur because the founder’s spouse is epileptic, you’ll want to talk about that.
Pull on some heartstrings. Expose the problem or opportunity for an improved life that your audience may not realize it needed.
If you don’t have this, you need it, and PR agents can be helpful in identifying this central “so, what?” of your brand.
I would recommend doing it yourself, though. It’s an invaluable skill as an entrepreneur to recognize when something isn’t working and have the flexibility to melt it down and start from scratch to build something new. Better yet, enlist the help of us at Interim CMO. We’ll assist you as you develop these skills, or create a tight core story for you. To read more about our take on the importance of creating a strong core story, check out this article.
Startups tend to know they’re doing something worth caring about, or else they wouldn’t care about it themselves. This thinking often leads them to the assumption that it’s obvious to potential customers why they should care, too.
PR firms can help in teasing out the “hook” of the company’s story.
They can help your startup move from “We know we’re amazing,” to “This is why people should care that we’re here.”
You know that breaking into a network of industry experts can be a tough job. A great PR agency will have a long list of qualified contacts that they’ve built trust with by connecting them to viable companies in the past. This is the #1 reason that you should work with them. But like any other aspect of your venture, you know to keep your expectations realistic.
It will still take hard work and lots of effort to build your own relationships, even with the connections your PR contact provides.
For stellar writing that will capture your brand’s voice, a dependable copywriter is going to be a way better (and much less expensive) ongoing option. Or, build your skill set by getting in the habit of doing the writing for your company.
Taking a DIY approach to your content — at least in the beginning phases — is great. That way you’re in control of the copy that establishes the direction of your brand’s voice.
Those are the only 4 reasons that you should consider allocating part of your budget to hire a PR firm. I can promise you that every other reason you hear about is garbage.
And even these 4 reasons can be garbage if you don’t know what it is you want out of the relationship going into it.
If you do decide that you could benefit from hiring a PR firm, remember that getting press is just one of many sources of inbound traffic that you’ll need to generate so — by all means — don’t blow your entire marketing budget on the venture.
Founder of InterimCMO, marketing at IgniteTalks, startup advisor & mentor at TechStars & Highway1, latin dancer, polyglot. Twitter: @_megangroves
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