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Posts Categorized: Public Relations

Top 5 Questions Startups Ask about PR


This last weekend, we led a workshop called BrandHack for Startups at the new Betamore in Baltimore. We invited a variety of speakers to come and give talks about their areas of marketing expertise, and of course, we gave a talk about PR. Rather than flip through a boring deck (does the world really need one more PowerPoint presentation?), we chose to have an open talk about what startups really need to know about PR. Here’s what we talked about.

What is PR??

First, it’s not advertising. A client once showed us a copy of an ad they ran in a magazine and said, “We’ve gotten great PR out of this.” (To this day, we’re still not sure what the client meant.) Instead, it’s a deep focus on building relationships, whether that’s directly through social media or, more traditionally, indirectly through media. It can also include other aspects such as government relations, investor relations, crisis management, and community relations. The common theme: Relations.

When should I launch my product?

The key thing to focus on here is to launch is when your product does exactly it promises to do. Don’t worry about all the bells and whistles. Don’t worry if some features aren’t ready to be implemented or are in the works. Focus on the one core feature and make sure it works. Then launch and build from there.

When do I need PR?

Here’s a pretty standard laundry list of times when you need to engage in public relations activities:

  • Launches
  • Establish/grow userbase
  • Attract investment
  • Earn credibility/recognition for a new technology
  • Enter a new market
  • Position company for purchase
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Mitigate negative perceptions

Do I need to be in TechCrunch?

500 Startups founder Dave McClure once Tweeted, “TechCrunch doesn’t pay the bills.” (Sorry, the tweet’s too old and isn’t publicly available any more.) The answer, of course, is NO! The bottom line is that you need to be in the media outlets that your audiences consume.

How do I get the media to pay attention to me? 

There are a lot of ways that a startup can get some media attention, but the first and most important one is to simply be awesome. Startups achieve that by focusing on what sets them apart, what differentiates them. That, and focusing on the problem that the company is trying to solve. Failing that, do something outrageous, like getting a pie thrown in your face.

Most importantly, always remember to answer the question: So What? If you’re not telling a journalist why what your company does matters, then you’ll never get the media attention you deserve!

Introducing the Startup’s Guide to Public Relations

News tablet

Here at Evolve Communications, we have the distinct honor to work some amazing startups. Some of them are lean and mean, some are fresh out of the gate, and some of them have been around the block a few times.

Whatever the stage they’re in, we find that startups are exciting to work with. They’re usually doing something new and innovative, their fresh perspective on things gives us the inspiration and room to do our best work.

That said, even with our affordable Rocket Packs, some startups are not ready to hire an agency. That doesn’t mean they don’t need PR–they’re just not in a position to hire. So, for all you startups out there, we bring you

The Startup’s Guide to Public Relations

This is our new whitepaper, filled with some essential tips and tricks for building buzz. What’s inside? Here’s a sample:

  • Why Startups Need PR
  • What is PR anyway?
  • The PR Process: Five Steps to PR Success!
  • Five things you can do TODAY to earn media coverage
  • Five things you can do TODAY to boost your social media presence
  • When to hire a PR Firm, and when not to

So, what are you waiting for? Go download our whitepaper! 

Why Working in PR Is Like Working in the Circus

circus tent

UPDATE: Thanks to the suggestion from our good friend @JamieLaceyPR, we created a poll where PR pros can vote for which circus character they are. Scroll to the bottom to take the poll!

We’ve been thinking about what makes a great PR person, and the various roles we have to play on a daily basis. More and more, we’re starting to think that working in PR is like working in the circus. And not only because it can be a chaotic experience. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and at the same time you have to be able to play a lot of different roles and do a lot of different things–all at the same time. And you’re expected to do them well.

Here are some typical roles we see at the circus…or in a PR person. It’s getting hard to tell the difference.

The Lion Tamer

Ah, the lion tamer. One of our favorite acts at the circus. Lion tamers have to be firm and fearless. They can’t flinch or show fear when they step into the ring with a number of big cats. And they need to be in command of their situation. A great PR person is like that. They’re not afraid to do what it takes to make things happen. They have an objective, and they work and work until they reach it, even when that means facing something that could maul them with a simple swipe.

The Tightrope Walker

This one’s especially true for those who work at agencies. A great PR person deftly walks the very thin line between what a client wants and what a client needs. Sometimes, clients have a specific objective in mind–like get on the front page of the New York Times. Yet, they don’t always know what’s involved (that’s why they hire us), or don’t necessarily understand why being on the front page of the nation’s newspaper of record isn’t necessarily a good thing. Great PR pros not only take the time to figure what’s really going to make an impact for a client (in a positive way), but also are deft at telling the client what they need to hear–not just what they want to hear.

The Contortionist 

A great PR pro is someone who is extremely flexible. We have to be. We often spend our days with a to do list that’s a million miles long, our phones and emails are constantly buzzing, and sometimes our strategies need to turn on a dime.

The Ring Leader

A great PR pro needs to know what’s going on around him or her all the time. This is true at all levels of the industry–whether you’re just starting out or you run your own show. You need to know what’s happening in the news and your clients’ industries. You need to know what’s happening with your clients. You need to know what’s happening with your coworkers. And you need to make it look like it’s all going off without a hitch–even when you’re not sure if things will come together the way you’ve envisioned them.

The Clown

No matter how seriously we take our clients’ business, we always leave time for a little light-hearted fun. ‘Cause all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Plus, if you can’t make fun of yourself, who can you make fun of?

The Human Cannonball

This one’s simple: A great PR pro knows how to get attention. That said, a great PR pro also knows that it takes more than just gimmicks to get the job done.