Ask the PRincipal: Is hiring a PR agency worth it for my startup?

Should I hire a PR agency?

Photo via  Unsplash

Photo via Unsplash

Dear PRincipal,

After what feels like a lifetime, I’m finally ready to introduce my startup to the world. I’m totally confident that our product will change people’s lives for the better and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. We have a small in-house marketing team (read: person) tasked to get the word out about us, but I feel more effort is needed for the right audience to get interested. Is hiring a PR agency worth it?

Yours Truly,

Founder Waiting To Be Found

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Dearest Founder,

As a founder myself, I know your struggle of deciding whether you should invest your hard-raised funds to outsource something that could potentially grow the company or just DIY. While doing your own PR could save you a lot of money, beware of bootstrapping to the point of restricting blood flow to your foot — or your brand, rather — and paralyzing your growth.

We startup people tend to get excited about our totally amazing, life-changing products and services, but no one will ever know about them without proper marketing and PR. A lot of startups develop great offerings that sadly don’t get noticed for several reasons. One big hurdle is not having figured out your value proposition. A PR agency can help you define and refine your “elevator pitch” so you can catch the attention of your target audience.

Once you’ve nailed your value proposition, an agency can also help you craft your narrative according to your business objectives. An agency is particularly helpful in pitching story ideas and determining what’s newsworthy to your audience. They can also come up with thought leadership articles and submit interview requests with targeted media to increase your brand’s relevance.

And then there’s the “R” in PR. Relations with media as well as influencers are a huge chunk of the work, and require a lot of time and effort to build. So unless your in-house marketing team — I mean, person — already has a network of connections at their disposal, then it will most likely take a while before you get the right people to talk about you, if they do at all. A PR agency would already have a network of journalists and influencers to tap, which saves you the trouble of reaching out to them and competing for their attention among the numerous other pitches that they already receive.

Lastly, a PR agency can help you map out a consistent, long-term strategy for managing your brand’s reputation, keep feeding the media pipeline so your brand stays visible, and help you respond quickly to unexpected developments. Whatever happens, having an agency on call gives you constant access to expert advice.

If any of these benefits appeal to you, then hiring a PR agency could definitely be a worthwhile investment in your startup’s growth — as long as you don’t cheap out. As I’ve said before, in PR, you get what you pay for. So if you don’t have the budget for it yet, it’s best to hold off until you have enough to pay an agency for a quality, high-impact campaign. There’s a whole spectrum of services that different agencies offer at varying price points and levels of expertise, so choose wisely. Take some time to make up your mind; until then,  keep those boots comfortably snug.

Got a PR question for our PRincipal (and fearless founder) Nesh Pillay? Tweet us @PressPillay!

Read more: What does PR cost?