Almost every fast-growing startup wants PR. Good buzz can drive visitors to your site and awareness of your brand, not to mention how validating it is to see the name of your company and all your hard work up in lights. But one of the biggest challenges is knowing WHEN you are ready for PR. No two companies and products are the same, and not all launches and PR strategies should be 100% replicated. You need to take a good hard look at your company and anticipate your preparedness for the effort and results of a solid PR campaign.
Early factors to consider when it comes to PR readiness:
- Capital – It’s hard to get around the capital expenditure that comes with PR for your startup. Hiring someone internal to run marketing & PR is beneficial in the long-term, especially if it will be a primary driver of user acquisition for your product, but you will need to account for their salary. Hiring an agency for later stage startups brings a lot of benefits in that you immediately have a team working for you, but can be a larger commitment for early-stage startups. Retainers are thousands of dollars per month & require longerterm commitments or a specific out clause. Freelance contractors are frequently a great option for early stage startups in that they are nimble and familiar with working & getting quick results on temporary terms.
- Time – Valuable PR programs require consistent effort and hours of your week. Regardless of if you hire internal, an agency, or a freelancer, you will need to commit to getting that person(s) ramped up and providing them the resources & counsel they need to be successful and get results. The more successful your PR program is, the busier you will become – whether it’s dealing with requests for media interviews, or handling an influx of inbound customer activity as a result of your coverage – all great problems to have! But, you must be prepared and have a plan to handle all inquiries so that your quality does not drop, and relationships are not ruined with key reporters.
- Technology – Quality PR coverage can drive significant traffic to your site in a short period of time. It sounds like common sense, but ensure your site is prepared to handle increased traffic and your solution/sales team is prepared to handle an influx of prospects and new customers.
- Training – Handling media interviews is both an art and a science. A good PR pro can prepare you for tough questions from reporters that could seriously hurt your brand if you answer the wrong way or reveal too much information. If you aren’t prepared, you could get burned.
- Assets – Many founders, rightfully so, drink the kool-aid for their startup because of course they discovered a genius idea, and they’ve put in a LOT of hard work. Unfortunately, this does not always translate with reporters and editors. They require hard assets that demonstrate your success. Have you raised funding? Do you have customer references? Do you as a founder have prior success in business? Is your solution upsetting a big-name player with incredibly unique differentiators? The reality is that the media landscape with today’s news cycle requires you to have assets to get media attention specific to your company or product. Many unicorn startups today likely experienced PR challenges in the beginning too. It’s hard to convince the media that you really are the next Uber…
Let’s say you have all these factors pinned down and you are ready to get started. Where do you begin?
Figure out your company’s approach to hiring – does it make more sense to hire internally, or should you investigate the agency & freelance options available to you? This should be determined by factoring in budget and goals for PR. While every business is different and results can vary, here’s a general rule of thumb:
- If you have less than $5k to spend per month and have reasonable goals for PR with time to allow for ramp up for optimal results, you should avoid bigger agencies with heftier price tags for the time being. Consider looking into smaller PR boutiques, or hiring internal and cultivating a culture of content creation, to integrate marketing & PR strategies.
- If you have more than $8k to spend per month and need pretty quick results to drive towards a business goal, investigate a mid-size or boutique-style agency that will devote a few team members to your account and has proven success with companies of your stage and in your industry.
- If you are somewhere in the middle of these two, a freelancer might be a good temporary fix for you company. You can spend less capital than you would with a full agency, ensure they are a good fit for your business via references, and not commit to a long-term contract or employment, should your goals and budgets fluctuate.
Still unsure whether you are ready for PR, or what you need if you are ready? Apply to VENTUREAPP today and submit a request.