Startups – Are you building relations or hiring PR firms?

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Let me clarify something at the onset itself- I have no particular problem with PR firms. In fact, I think they are pretty good at what they do, at least, most of them. Telling a story should be an inherent trait in a person, but let’s face it, not many of us have that skill in place.

The pertinent question here though is, whether ‘startups’ should be hiring PR firms.

Startup Public Relations

Community Outreach

A startup community is a very close-knit community. I have been amazed at various points in time when I have asked someone for help. People have gone out of their way in extending a helping hand.

As startups, we would be better served if we follow the motto of ‘Always be pitching’; not only to customers, or employees, or investors, but to anyone and everyone who would have the slightest of interests in our product.

Cash Crunch

Let’s face it. One of the top 5 things that are associated with a startup is unfortunately, also a cash crunch. No one is sitting on piles of notes. And if it means the difference between survival and downfall, the moolah commands all the more respect. So, what would you rather be spending it on? Sustaining your baby for another 15 days, 6 weeks or 5 months. OR spending it on someone else who might or might not be able to do the talking for you.

Time Crunch

We have all worked 15 or more hours a day, haven’t we?

As a startup owner/founder/employee, we are juggling so many things at a time, that we are resource-crunched. Although, I am a strong believer that most of the time we are trying to do too much and forcing productivity is never a good idea. But, delegation is not always a startup guy’s strongest forte.

Now, imagine adding to this the time spent on informing and keeping on the same page, a PR person. You have to tell them about your company all the time, keep them in the loop; even instruct them on the answers they are supposed to give to project the image that you would like to.

Local Media

“Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did Up To 2003.” – Eric Schmidt

That is just too much content. Even then there is an acute shortage of quality content. Here’s the thing though. Everyone has an opportunity to speak or push out content. The unfortunate scenario is that majority of that content is unintelligent. Worse still, much of it is even uninteresting.

So, guess who’s interested in your story which is definitely unique, and hopefully interesting. Yes, the local media.

Why not build direct relationships with them, instead?

Just drop in a mail to one local media outlet today. Be short, succinct and crystal-clear. And, please drop all the jargon from your pitch.

Evangelists

Storytelling could just be the most underrated skill in business. Not very many people are good at it nor do they realize it when someone else is using it to their advantage. Storytelling is what differentiates Marketing and Selling. Everyone’s got to have a story and everyone’s got to know how to sell. Because that’s what is going to take you places. The “WHY ME and “Why-not-someone-else” story.

Who else should be telling your story other than you? People who already love your story. The satisfied customers, vendors, your employees, the early adopters, even a prospective client, investor or VC.

The trick is to keep these people updated on the latest happenings of your business via a periodic e-mail. Who knows one of them knows someone, who knows someone in a big media outlet.

So, in short: Go out there. Tell your story. Help someone out. Don’t expect anything in return. Be transparent. Mail someone today. Be available. And, most importantly, keep that cash for things which might help you survive for longer.

Related Presentation: Read this excellent presentation on How to effectively do PR for your startups.

  1. Siddhesh Joshi says

    Nice one that.
    Some questions…
    1) Do these PR Firms guarantee a certain increase in the profits or turnovers?
    2) How do these firms charge? The amateur in me, makes me think that they could charge on a profit share basis as long as they are hired?

    … thinking from a PR Firm perspective.. is it a really good business?

    Sid…

    1. Abhash Kumar says

      Hey Sid, Thanks for the kind words.

      1) No PR firm can guarantee an increase in profits/turnover. What they can say though is that they will get your product in front of X number of people. They can help you align your message and branding, if that’s one of your problems. How you convert it into measurable entity is completely up to you.

      2)There is not really a standard charge per se. Most of them would charge you on the basis of ‘hours’. They would definitely not charge you on a profit-sharing basis because as I said earlier its rather difficult to quantify something of that sort.

      From a PR firm’s perspective, for startups, its more work. But, in the long-term scheme of things it makes sense for them if they can help you grab major eyeballs, for when you go big, they can rake in big fees.

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