Evolve CommunicationsPublic Relations

Posts Categorized: Public Relations

Why Startups Should Hire a PR Firm

rocket

Investor and startup business icon Mark Cuban recently wrote that startups shouldn’t hire a PR firm. His reasons are simple and straightforward. PR firms are expensive, in his view, and they simply can’t accomplish anything beyond what a CEO can accomplish in terms of media relations.

Of course, we had to chime in, especially because we just launched Rocket Packs for Startups last week! Mark makes some valid points, and hiring a PR firm is not in the best interest of all startups. Yet, one essential fact that Mark glosses over is that doing media relations can take a significant investment in time to see results.

As the CEO of a startup, do you know what your time is worth? We bet you don’t, because that’s generally not part of the startup business model.

On the other hand, as an agency, we know exactly down to the minute what our time is worth. We know the amount of time, elbow grease and shoe leather it takes to get through to the media. And we know what they want (most of the time), so we don’t waste clients’ time trying to figure that out.

Many startups are going the lean route. And that’s a smart way to go. In fact, it’s how we’ve built our business; we keep overhead as low as possible, so that we can maximize every minute we spend building the business and servicing clients.

And we’ve built Rocket Packs with the “lean startup” in mind. It’s what our friend Greg Cangialosi¬†called “lean PR.” Can’t afford a full-blown campaign? No problem, we can provide a little boost. Want to just announce a new product or service? We’ve got you covered. Not sure how to approach your marketing? We can lead you through the thought process, get your messaging down and give you the tools you need to get started.

Whatever the need of your startup is, we’re confident that we can get you moving in the right direction, very affordably.

 


PR for Ad Agencies

megaphone-300x199

One of things that our agency clients often ask us to do, in addition to providing services to their clients, is to help them with their own PR. Sometimes they have a great story to tell. Other times we need to help them figure it out.

Agencies present their own unique challenges in terms of earning coverage. Because, let’s be honest, the day-to-day life of an agency is not as glamorous as it seems on shows like Mad Men. (Sidenote: We really dig the day-to-day of agency life, but those living outside our own gilded halls may not get the poetic nuances of the environment.)

In truth, there are only a handful of approaches to earn coverage for an agency. For the most part, they are:

  • Do amazing work
  • Win awards for said amazing work
  • Do amazing work for charity

We should clarify: by coverage, we’re talking about feature stories. We’re not talking about the new client or new hire announcements, or the random quote in the local business journal about some trend. Those are the blocking and tackling efforts that have to be done in order to get those one-line mentions that are needed to help keep your agency top-of-mind.

In short, like any client, the agency has to have something interesting to say–either about itself or the work it’s doing. If the work isn’t interesting, unusual or significant in any way, no one’s going to care. Least of all the media.


How to Sell Public Relations Services

microphonemedium

Although Evolve Communications was founded to primarily help agencies enhance its digital marketing services, we quickly saw the need to offer public relations services. PR is an excellent compliment to other digital marketing tools, particularly social media (some would even argue that social media is public relations and not marketing, but that’s a different discussion).

However, some agencies don’t always know when to steer clients towards a PR solution, and as result, public relations is sometimes deployed to accomplish goals when there might be a tool that’s a better fit.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for agencies that can help identify when public relations is a good fit for your client–and when it isn’t.

The client has a good story to tell

Some PR practitioners would argue that every company has a story to tell. And to some degree that’s true. The question is whether or not it’s an interesting story. Yes, it’s the PR practitioner’s job to make a story appealing to a company’s audiences. But let’s be honest: putting a “spin” on something less than appealing doesn’t serve anybody (not the agency, not the practitioner, and least of all, not the client).

What makes a good story? Several things: uniqueness, timeliness, relevancy. The client’s story should demonstrate the company’s differentiators, and it should be clear how the client relates to its clients and its industry.

We can certainly help a client articulate their story, but they need to have a story to begin with.

The client has data to back it up (or budget to buy data)

A story is only a work of fiction until you can back it up with data. Clients should have data to back up the claims in their story, or at least have budget to devote towards obtaining supporting data–either through secondary or primary research.

If a client doesn’t have this information, or isn’t interested in obtaining it, then PR may not be a good match for them.

The client has the assets to support it (or the budget to pay for it)

By assets, we mean images, infographics, videos, etc. If they don’t have this already, they need to be willing to pay for it. It doesn’t have to be a huge line item in the budget. But if the client wants to launch a new product, or wants to do a new hire release, or wants to promote a travel package or a destination, or whatever, they’re going to need assets.

Having quality images is integral to securing coverage much of the time, and the client needs to be made aware of that.

The client is open to working collaboratively

Like many marketing disciplines, PR is a collaborative process. It is often an ongoing, evolving process that shifts over time. In PR, the relationship with the client should not be a scenario where the client provides some information and guidelines about what they want to see, and then a few weeks later have an end-product. In PR, it sometimes takes time to develop a story, and that often means collaboration.

Successful public relations requires regular communication between the client and the agency. If a client feels like this is a burden, or they think that hearing from their PR person is just an annoyance, then its likely that they also will not want to talk to the media (see the next item).

The client is willing to talk to the media

We understand that every business has things that are considered proprietary and they don’t want to discuss them publicly. And that’s fine.

However, once we identify the story and how we want to tell it, the client must be willing to tell that story to the media. The client doesn’t have to be media-trained; we can train them to give great interviews. After all, its incumbent on the PR practitioner to prepare the client, including helping the client answer difficult questions that they might not want to answer.

But, if the client is afraid to talk to the media–regardless of training and preparation–then their expectation for obtaining coverage needs to be tempered. Journalists (and bloggers) want access–not necessarily to every detail of a business–but enough to get the story right.

You might be asking, “Does a client need to meet all of these criteria?” Our answer is Yes. But No. But Yes. Yes, ultimately clients need to be able to do all of these things. No because they don’t need to meet these criteria right off the bat. We can work with you to help get them up to speed. And yes, again, because ultimately, the client’s interest in obtaining coverage for their business must be matched by their willingness to contribute to the process.