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When is the right time/stage to hire a PR firm?

I generally don't believe in PR firms adding value and especially so early on. But a company I'm advising has raised $10M total and they are contemplating it. Would love to hear from people that HAVE worked with them - what stage were you in and what worked well?

32 Replies

Anthony Miller
0
0
Anthony Miller Advisor
President & CEO at millermedia7
Seems like they're in a good position to hire one. PR firms are not always needed and there are many bad ones out there. I'd say be very strategic in hiring one. Define goals early.

I actually made a referral for a startup to a PR firm I used to work with and they're very happy.

I'd start out on a small 3 month retainer with whomever you choose. Good luck.
Edward M. Yang
6
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
For some companies who have founders that can engage directly with the press, they don't need a PR agency. One great example is Dhawal Shah of Class Central. He's had his articles and company mentioned in Techcrunch, among others, solely through his own efforts. For other companies that are run primarily by tech folks, media relations may be a challenge either from a capabilities standpoint or lack of time. In this case, a PR agency may make sense. Make sure to ask for examples of past success stories, as usually past performance is indicative of future success. There are no guarantees in PR, but there's a lot of power in securing evergreen content in the form of positive press coverage. Other points to be aware of: -Make sure that sufficient time and resources are provided to empower the PR agency to do their job. Quick turnaround is critical when you get a reporter interested. -Be clear upfront on what your expectations are. They should neither be too high ("we want to be on the front page of the New York Times") nor too low. -Keep in mind there are different tactics within PR. Each has their own use for each stage: promotion, source filing, thought leadership, newsjacking, content marketing. -Avoid like the plague PR agencies who think PR is simply churning out press releases every month and slapping it on the wire service. -Don't sign long term contracts. At most a 60 day out clause is sufficient to avoid long term commitments. Disclosure: My agency has been helping tech companies for the past 12 years get known. Our motto is "big agency results at small agency prices". I'd be happy to provide further advice for free.
Andy Abramson
1
0
Andy Abramson Advisor
CEO, Comunicano
Lucas,

Good question. As the CEO of a value creation brand communications agency, with 41 exits under our belt, the time to be hired varies from seed stage to later stage. We've come in at all stages, but prefer to come in before another agency has taken them down the wrong path of course, but when we have to course correct, we do that as well.

What matters is what line of business the company is in, are they in a competitive field, do they have a story to really tell, what makes them different, how are the positioned, what is their core message, how wide a field is their eco-system and what is their competency in that eco-system, what is their sustainability, how strong, vibrant and engaging is their CEO and leadership team. Most importantly, do they have news, will they be able to stand up at a conference and hold their own on the issues, not be trying to sell from the stage (a big no-no), do they have a 12 - 18 month marketing plan, does someone in the company already own the brand message, where in the buying cycles and selling cycles of services or products during the year is at-for example wine is sold in best in the months of November-May as that's when winemakers can travel, cars are best sold in between February and August as that's when the new model year is being rolled out and availability is usually in the fall; consumer products are best sold in January-May with sell through really taking hold in September; industrial products follow similar patterns as does technology.

We look at those factors as it impacts how you tell the story and what is exposed to whom, in which order and when.

Happy to have a deeper discussion with you if this helps.

Andy Abramson
Cecilia Panichelli
0
0
Cecilia Panichelli Entrepreneur
Marketing Director
Hi, I will give you my 2 cents. It really depends on which industry you are in. Rule of Thumb for CPG is that if you have more than 30% ACV then you start to invest on PR, social.... I have heard companies that said once we were
Diane Bernard
4
1
Diane Bernard Advisor
Chief Digital Marketing & Growth Officer For Hire, CEO, Virtual CMO for Technology, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Consumer
I think PR can come in handy a couple of ways. One it can help create early conversations with Industry analyst to not miss out in some of their reports. Also, it gives your agency which I highly recommend you have someone that is both PR & Marketing, so they can build the messaging is created directly off the early customers and can be easily translated into sales facing content.

Also, the PR takes time to get intros done along with whisper virtual tours can help ensure you get great coverage when you are ready to pull the trigger. Another thing that is great with early PR you can help unlock some of the early customers and begin putting your stake in the ground for any new market segments your product may be creating.

Also, there are lots of great conferences you can get a seat on a panel, host early webinars to build thought leadership and not to mention help get the press kits, website content etc all completed.

My 3 cents worth! :-) Diane
Craig Rothenberg
2
0
Founder, CEO, Rothenberg Communications LLC
X
If all they're thinking about in a PR agency is media relations assistance, then that's a fairly simple, straightforward remit, and I'd agree with A. Miller's suggestion to consider a short-term retainer. On the other hand, if (in addition to media relations support) they're looking for more strategic communications counsel, then the expertise they're looking for will take some smart "shopping" on their and your part.

I say this as a 35-year communications person coming out of Big Pharm, and one who now consults with companies of all sizes across all industries. If attracting new investors and perhaps even board members is key, if identifying and aligning with critical third-party partners, establishing a foothold with potential customers, etc. is important in the near, mid- or long-term, then that's a larger remit. It takes an agency/consultancy that fundamentally understands the business and business model, its goals and then can design of a communication strategy to help meet each of those objectives.

And then, fundamentally of course, it depends on the industry and where and when the planned timing of launch (of the company and its product brands) is scheduled. Also, if establishing credibility/a reputation is important, that too will weigh in to the if and when equation of selecting an agency.

I'm happy to talk live (offline) if that's at all of interest.
...Apr 08, 2016EditReport
Paul Loeb
1
0
Paul Loeb Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder, DropTrack
My startup has not raised any money and I just hired a PR firm. We've reached the point where I know we have product-market fit, and need help getting the word out. I think that's the best time to go for PR.

My agreement with the PR firm was for a 3-month initial commitment, and we're in month 3 now. I just got my first press coverage, and now I'm at the point where I'm debating to continue monthly or not. (it's not cheap!)
Andy Abramson
2
0
Andy Abramson Advisor
CEO, Comunicano
We tell clients 3 months is when things start to pop. Sure we make other things happen earlier, but it's like sale. You have to be in the news cycle.
Judith Hurwitz
3
0
Judith Hurwitz Entrepreneur
President & CEO Hurwitz & Associates
Working with a PR company takes preparation and a focus on your goals. Do you want to let the world know that you have raised money? Are you ready to talk about your technology or a partnership? Do you want to focus on the key leaders in the company and get them quoted in publications? All these are reasonable goals but you have to direct a PR firm otherwise it is expensive and might not give you the results you are looking for. I recommend that you begin with building relationships with key influencers. You can set up a few intimate dinners with key people (partners, customers, and editors), you can contribute articles.
The bottom line is that you have to have clear expectations and you have to be involved in the process.
Alex Czajkowski
0
0
Alex Czajkowski Entrepreneur
eGaming and eCommerce Marketing Director at Agency Lex
Depends TOTALLY on market and product. PR as we KNEW it is dead.. but good PR is beautiful. WIithout answering q1, nothing else .
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