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What are your thoughts on PR Agencies?

Are they really worth it or a waste of capital resources that can be allocated somewhere else at an early stage phase. Especially keeping in mind that most PR Agencies as for a retainer and sometimes that can be up to 6 months

20 Replies

Shawn Matthews
2
0
Shawn Matthews Entrepreneur
Chief Creative Officer / CEO at Swagbot Creative
Kashif.... IMHO its a waste of money at this point! Make an awesome product, then provide great customer service, and then launch. A few weeks before launch, go on to Clarity.fm and talk with a few experts to create a media strategy, then execute. Start building relationships on social now, and then find an amazing hook to lure people in. But work on product first. Sent from my iPhone
Tim Foster
2
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Tim Foster Advisor
Co-Founder, Pop Culture Audience Platform and Data-Driven Film Studio
i worked in PR for 10 years at a PR agency - they are pretty useless for traditional media for small or early stage companies- its honestly just another type of sales call - you can figure it out. The only good thing about using any agency is its someone's job - someone is accountable and forced to deliver but i'd say there are cheaper ways to get that benefit. Tim Foster Co-Founder, Tadpole Digital Ventures P: [removed to protect privacy] E: [removed to protect privacy]
Jonathan Ivanco
0
0
Jonathan Ivanco Entrepreneur
Customer Journey Enthusiast
I've fired a few. It's hard to have an agency understand your brand, market, and be able to tell your story, they only dedicate say a few hours a week, it's not enough to live breath, follow your industry, your competitors, and everything else that is going on.

As stated above, create a good pitch, stay up to date on your industry, track publications that write about your industry and make friends.
Edward M. Yang
2
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
Full disclosure, I'm a partner at a PR agency that specializes in helping early stage tech companies.

Like most things, the answer is "it depends".

Some founders are naturally gifted in this area and have both the time and inclination to get press coverage themselves.

The vast majority don't, and are rightly focused on things like product development, sales, growing their team, etc.

Whatever you do, don't lock yourself into a 6 month contract. We just have a simple 30 day out clause for most of our clients.

It's also important to have definable goals to shoot for, for instance:

-2 media mentions
-2 bylined/thought leadership articles
-1 speaking engagement
-1 press release (if needed)
-2 award submissions

One client of ours saw an increase of organic traffic to his site of 900% after 3 months, with coverage in Entrepreneur, Business Insider and a radio interview.

Results will vary, but that's my two cents.
Jennifer Ernst
2
0
Jennifer Ernst Entrepreneur • Advisor
Marketing | Business Development for early-stage, high-growth tech
I've used agencies very effectively for early-stage technologies, but here are the caveats.

First, you must know how press coverage matters to your business strategy. For an optical switch technology we were looking to license out, one article in Light Reading netted qualified leads with almost every relevant manufacturer and potential licensee. Would not have needed an agency for that.

Coverage drives traffic to a site and generates inquiries. If you don't have staff time to follow through or manufacturing to deliver orders, then there's no purpose.

Finally, what you get out of an agency is proportional to what you put in. I don't mean funding, but rather time, creative energy and commitment. You can't just cut a check and turn them loose. You MUST have someone internally who owns the story and the program's goals. Then, and only then, can an agency be a useful extension of that person's resources.

I do have a favorite agency I recommend if you want to contact me.

Giles Crouch
0
1
Giles Crouch Entrepreneur
Digital Behavioural Economist | Speaker | Writer | Technology Strategist | on Twitter @Webconomist
The goal of 99% of PR agencies is to get you on retainer. The top management will swoop in, woo you over, then when you pay, hand you over to a junior who will push out mediocre content at best. That's how they make money. I've used a lot of PR agencies over my 25+ years. Hire a specialised PR firm for a project, do not pay AOR fees or retainers. Make sure they have the media contacts you want and specialise in your sector. Get references.

The better route is to find PR freelancers (i.e The Well) for a project. Then move on. Few PR or ad agencies truly live up to their promises today. As they say, you get what you pay for.
Mark Sendo
0
0
Mark Sendo Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder, CEO, Forbes Contributor, Conference Speaker, TechCrunch featured story twice
Given we have a hot startup in the Detroit Area, and although our platform will soon scale, we will launch locally developing and perfecting our MVP. Do you think its best to bring on a local PR person to begin? Someone with local contacts, prove the model, then hire a larger PR person/firm to create national/worldwide coverage versus local? or is it best to hire someone from the start who has a broad national reach? thank you
Tim Foster
0
0
Tim Foster Advisor
Co-Founder, Pop Culture Audience Platform and Data-Driven Film Studio
PR people overstate the value in their network sometimes - unless their is a geographic bend to your business i'd tend to start with a person who is bright and driven but mostly importantly understands what you're trying to do and can dig into your high value communities - blogs, influencers and start building relationships. I also think you should get clear on what you're trying to accomplish in getting media attention and gear your stories/ptiches to that. Tim Foster Co-Founder, Tadpole Digital Ventures P: [removed to protect privacy] E: [removed to protect privacy]
Maher Daoudi
1
0
Maher Daoudi Entrepreneur
CEO and Co-Founder at Skillvo
PR is really a sales job, instead of buying your product, the media is buying your story. Hire a sales person to do the PR role. Just like in sales - in PR you create a list of targets, you then start contacting them to build a "pipeline" and continue to contact them until they are ready to buy your story and publish you.

What i've learned over my career is that agencies for any service are structured the same. They have leaders who tell you what you want to hear, promise the world, and asses how junior of a person that they can put on your project to make money from you. Instead of paying $100/hr to an agency for a junior person getting paid $15-20/hr, you can hire an independent contractor directly who likes to work independently, has more experience, costs you less and can get more done.

We're moving towards a gig economy anyway that's more efficient with technology allowing talent to be easily discover-able and instantly hired, that's why I started Skillvo, a platform to allow service professionals to showcase their work.
Edward M. Yang
2
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
Mark Sendo,

We worked on a project that had the same type of criteria as yours.

They had a mobile ride sharing app and were rolling it out city by city.

Thus, we targeted both local press and national press.

For local, we got them on local Chicago NBC TV, Phoenix TV interview, NPR Seattle, and a bunch of others.

For national press, we got them into CNET and Washington Post.

Using a deep and wide strategy can pay dividends if done correctly.
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