Value of Public Relations

In case you missed it, alarm:clock (which covers venture-backed technology companies) posted a blog about the validity of hiring a PR firm. Needless to say they were inundated with comments from PR professionals giving their side of the story.

Notwithstanding some truth in the article, alarm:clock made a big mistake. The writer referred to a successful startup that had not used a PR firm. That was incorrect — the company indeed saw its success in part due to the efforts of a PR firm.

Each company needs to determine based on its own situation if a PR firm is right. Since many startups aren’t ready to work with a full-service PR firm, they would do better working with a PR consultant or contractor. This point was driven home by Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek (see link to the right — Sounding the Alarm on PR).

One of the problems with startups is that most are just not ready for primetime. They want to quickly generate some media buzz so they hurry to engage with a PR firm in hopes of making the cover of BusinessWeek. Well, that rarely happens.

The startup relies on the PR executive to be an expert on PR strategy and tactical implementation, but the startup also needs to bring something to the table. Several key milestones need to be reached before a company even thinks about implementing a PR plan. Having a solid product roadmap, referenceable customers, adequate funding and strategic partnerships are key.

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