Startup PR… anyone, anyone – okay [updated]…


Two clearly stated cases for both sides of the debate.  Judge for yourself.

Brian Solis on TechCrunch and Loic Le Meur

Original Post

So, I’ve found that there are very differing views on the value of PR to startups – frankly one of the more debated expenses (sorry, I mean investments) in early days at startups (again, with a particular focus on early stage vs well funded). I’ve heard it argued that it is not at the top of the spending list because in many cases it is difficult to attribute to customer acquisition. I’ve also heard the converse, particularly for startups that target the technical elite. I’ve also seen some nice debates on the differences in PR and blogging. So, I’d like to interview a few people/experts to get a better sense of what the latest and great is on the topic. Let me know if you’re interested or you know someone who is. In the meantime, here is a link to a PR firm I’ve followed for a while, SHIFT Communications, and a synopsis of their resources from UTR’s blog. On a related topic, here is another PR firm, MyPRGenie, I’ve been watching in the SaaS marketing space. Haven’t used them, so let me know if you have and what you think.

6 Responses to “Startup PR… anyone, anyone – okay [updated]…”
  1. Darian says:

    Ive followed many startups, without that UUUUUmph at the beggining, you’re nothing. You need to have the credibility to have the trust. I just saw a new wmployment site launch last week called realmatch and while the interface seems cool, they got a lot of press and thats what does it.

  2. gammill says:

    Thanks Darian. I’m always looking to assess PR at three levels – one as a buzz generator, three as a BD tool and three as a consumer acquisition contribution. I’m interested to see what other people see for PR in early stage development so thanks for weighing in.

  3. Rob Adler says:

    There is no easy answer to your quesiton. It really is two questions. Whether and when.

    You need to take a look at who are the audiences that the company is trying to reach. That can go beyond customers to financiers, value chain, etc. Can these people be efficiently reached through PR outreach (blogs, media, analysts, etc.)?

    Other things to consider include when is the company going to market? Is it ready for the spot light? How long is the revenue cycle.

    Some companies need to educate the market before they have product – especially if you have something that is game changing. In technical areas, you may need to establish thought leadership.

    One valuable thing that PR can do is help with branding, messaging and positioning. Communicating effectively can make a big difference for a start up.

  4. gammill says:

    This is right on the money. I regularly tell startups that the important thing about early PR is to understand your objectives and scale your strategy & spend accordingly. Thanks Rob!

  5. Cliff Allen says:

    Most of the discussion around the Brian Solis article on PR has been from each individual’s personal perspective, instead of a general discussion of a start-up’s strategic marketing plan (

    Answers to two questions can give some guidance on the best ways start-ups can use PR:

    1. Does the business sell products (or services), or is it a free Web site?

    2. Does the business provide a truly innovative product or service, or is it a “me too” product that depends on taking market share from existing companies?

    In general, there are four broad ways these questions affect the PR plan:

    * Innovative, free Web sites can benefit from start-up PR on high traffic blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable because those readers are likely to be early users of a free Web site.

    * Innovative products sold into specialized target markets can benefit from pitching customer case studies to the media read by their target market.

    * Free Web sites that have almost the same features as existing sites are frequently criticized by the big blogs, and usually do best by using less public marketing techniques.

    * Products sold into an existing market should focus on being included in “roundup” articles, directories, and lists, as well as pitch high-profile customer case studies.

    There’s plenty of middle ground here, such as with products that add innovative features to traditional feature sets. So, it takes an experienced marketing team to figure out what’s best for the company.

    The question of whether to outsource to a PR firm or have the CEO do PR misses the bigger issue that it’s a team effort. The PR person (staffer, freelancer, or agency), the marketing director, and the CEO need to each do what they can do best.

    Whoever has the best relationship with an editor or reporter should pitch the story. If it’s the CEO, that’s great. If it’s the PR person, that’s fine — they should just make sure to get the reporter and CEO interacting as quickly as possible.

    Even the biggest and most personable CEOs have PR “handlers” with them when they work the media. This is to ensure that someone is watching the interaction and providing real-time clarifications. It’s best to fix misperceptions during the interview instead of trying to get a correction after the story is published.

    There’s no one right way to get media attention — even for direct competitors. But it is important for some type of public relations program to be included in every strategic marketing plan.

  6. gammill says:

    Thanks Cliff. This is a very helpful post and appreciate the detail!
    Cheers, Chris

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