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When should startups invest in PR?

By David Beesley

If you’re a founder of a startup then chances are you’re keeping a close eye on fee revenue, net profit and most important of all, cashflow. The need for startups to invest in PR is probably quite far down the list of priorities - right behind increasing new sales, making sure your customers and your employees are happy and that you’re delivering your services to the standard you expect. 

Deciding when to engage PR is always a tough decision. While many think it’s down to what stage of growth the business is in, it actually doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band or 100-people strong.

Consider these three things for a moment:

  1. Do you want to make your sales process easier?
  2. Do you want to ‘stick it’ to some of your competitors because you know that your product or service is better than what is currently on offer?
  3. Do you want to improve your marketing content, your website lead generation and your SEO performance?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ to all of the above, then it’s time to consider engaging in PR. 


How to find and select a startup PR agency

The typical process is to set up a beauty procession of potential agencies whereby you mass mail an RFP to the top agencies you uncover in a Google search; most of them respond; you create a shortlist based on ‘look and feel’; they pitch for your business; you pick a winner (the most attractive) and away you go. 

This method has worked for decades and is still common today, but the issue here is that this is a transactional relationship - it’s based on services provided against a shopping list of needs that you think you want. The agency has no real opportunity to use its experience to provide consultancy on what your actual communication objectives are and whether the activities you’ve listed are indeed the right ones. 

What we advise is that you need a PR partner - one that is free to challenge the brief based on their experience and the understanding of your business and communication objectives. There needs to be an agreement between client and PR partner that the objectives of a campaign are SMART, then you stand a much higher chance of proving impact. 

So when you’re searching and deciding upon a PR partner, consider these questions as part of your decision making process….

  1. How are you going to measure the success/ impact of your campaign and over what time frame?
  2. What analytics tools are you using to track outcomes? (Tip - if a potential PR partner answers “None”, then this is a red flag)
  3. Can the PR partner provide examples of their previous work relevant to your business or industry? (Ideally within the last 12 months.)

Any PR partner worth their salt will be able to answer these questions with ease. 

Download our guide to PR for Startups for more information


How to measure Startup PR

When it comes to measuring PR impact through the use of analytics, you have the correct analytics set up to accurately measure increases in website performance, customer/prospect interest, referrals, contacts generation and lead nurturing. 

The epicentre of this is your hardest working salesperson - your website.

PR has evolved, geared towards the impact it can achieve online and as a result your business’ website has become a cornerstone to any campaign and the foundation for how results can be measured.

One of the biggest advantages to modern day PR - some would say Digital PR - has been in the area of measurement. Armed with analytics tools, PR campaigns can now dive into benefits that go far beyond just coverage numbers and include website traffic, new website sessions, referral traffic, number of backlinks etc. which can all be tracked over time and linked to specific PR activity. 

Actual business impact can (and should) be measured and attributed to PR activity.

PR isn’t just media relations. Yes, that is one element, but a good PR campaign needs to consider Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned activity. You don’t need a huge budget to create a PR campaign that helps you define your business proposition and showcase why you’re one of the forerunners in your market.

Just because you’re a startup doesn’t mean that you’re not ready for PR. If you want to talk over your options then book a meeting with us below.

PR for startups

Tags: PR, Startups