Does your company need a PR agency? No matter who your company is, the answer should always be yes. Having said that, though, the question is too broad. Instead, you should be asking yourself, when should I begin using PR?
Do you understand the competitive landcape?
As Mike Santoro, president of Walker Sands Communications writes on FastCompany one of the steps needed when launching your company is to understand the landscape. “Surprisingly enough, some startups don’t do their homework … It’s imperative you know what else is out there so you can understand how you measure up to the competition.”
If you don’t, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and out of your depth. Also, a lack of research into the competitive environment will give you unrealistic expectations.
Do you have a working product?
I can understand the enthusiasm that comes with a new product or company. You can’t wait to tell everyone. But hang on. It is no use just jumping into PR and telling your story when you are not sure if your company can deliver.
When it comes to PR, as much as it is a cliché, slow and steady wins the race. Santoro continues: “A good PR firm can initially work with an idea phase product to make it sound interesting and build an early user base, but they can’t give you all of the users or feedback that’s necessary for fine-tuning your product.”
Do you have a compelling story?
Every company needs to have a story. And a compelling one at that. If you find that you don’t, do as Santoro says, develop one. “PR comes into play once you’ve developed a compelling message that is easily understandable and resonates with consumers. At the end of the day, people want to know the ’so what?’”
Erica Swallow, a technology writer agrees in a piece she wrote on Mashable
:“Before sending out any pitches, take time to craft your company’s message. Be able to explain your startup in one sentence so that anyone — techie or not — can understand its purpose,” she writes.
Do you have the right budget?
As much as this question refers more to the subject of which PR firm to chose, it’s still an important that start-up businesses ask it. You need to factor in the cost of doing PR and as Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich writes on SpinSucks, “[i]f you think you’ll just “fit it in,” go back to the drawing board.”
She continues, “You must have a budget (or at least know how much you’re willing to pay) and understand how you’ll get a return on that investment.” It’s an observation that couldn’t be truer.