Public Relations

A public relations (PR) firm is a professional services company that specializes in managing a company or individual's public image and reputation. This can include a range of activities, such as creating and distributing press releases, managing social media accounts, organizing events, and responding to media inquiries. The goal of a PR firm is to build and maintain a positive public image for their clients, and to help them communicate effectively with their target audience.

PR activities for early-stage startups

PR activities for early-stage startups will typically focus on:
  1. Storytelling: A PR firm or consultant will assist the company in developing its unique narrative relative to what's interesting and newsworthy within its particular industry. PR professionals will know the types of stories journalists are looking for.
  1. Press releases: Writing and distributing press releases to the company website and the newswire.
  1. Media relations: Pitching news, stories, and company experts to journalists.
  1. Content placement: Publishing content authored by someone within the company on third-party sites.

When to hire a PR firm

Most companies will hire a PR firm following a successful first round of fundraising but there is no set timeline for the “right” time. It’s dependent on the company’s ability to demonstrate either of the following:
  1. A well-built, relevant story to tell
  1. A viable product with early traction (investment, customers, new hires, etc.)
  1. A steady drumbeat of potential product and company news (~1/quarter).
A PR firm can help develop messaging and positioning but the company should first have a solid idea of their story, product vision, and ideal audience profile. The PR firm can help fine-tune and adjust to make it relevant to current trends and conversations happening within the industry.
Hiring a PR firm is typically a long-term commitment. Companies will get the most out of this vendor relationship if they have a steady stream of news and announcements to promote.

When to hire a PR consultant

Hiring a PR consultant is a good option for companies expecting one-off announcements and/or for companies that are pre-fundraising and are doing well with owned content (content published to the company blog is getting traffic; traffic is growing).
A PR consultant is retained for a single event and can help the company with the press release, press outreach, and other planned communication strategies. The benefit of using a consultant is that they typically don’t require an ongoing contract and fee like a PR agency will require.

Generating News

News is timely and interesting to the general public. Startup news tends to fall into the following categories:
  1. Product launches and new features
  1. Integrations and plugins with well-known products
  1. Fundraising
  1. Significant new hires
  1. Company milestones: Deals with big-name customers, user growth, MRR/ARR growth