Top Five PR Tips For Start Ups

I got my start in this business working in Public Relations. I attended a fine school for PR and worked several jobs in PR ranging from PR Firms to a stint at the Pentagon as a Communications Specialist. One thing I learned about PR is that many start-ups have some ill conceived notions of why and when to use PR.

I recently had a conversation over the phone with a friend of mine in NY about a start up he was launching and I offered him some free advice.

1) PR is not free marketing:

Many times start ups envision PR as a way to get free marketing. In fact PR is more expensive than marketing and offers no guarantees about exposure. A TEAM of PR profesionals can work for weeks with little to no results. Nine times out of ten a start up is better off purchasing some very targeted ads instead of spending thousands of dollars trying to get one newspaper placement.

2) Do you even need PR:

PR builds public awareness through 3rd party creditability; this can be accomplished through Analysts or Media Relations. If you are not trying to sell the world about how great you are don’t worry about the media as much as the public. Targeting the public can often generate more ROI in the first few years of a company than any review in a paper can.

3) If the press is a must, KNOW YOUR PRESS:

When I worked in PR everyone one in DC wanted to get in the Washington Post. I often said asked why and came to this conclusion, narcissism. Everyone wants to boast that they got the Post and show it around the office. Who cares, sure the Post reaches everyone and there grandmother, but if you’re not selling to my grandmother why waste the time and target her. Trade publications and target media can give you much great ROI than the carpet bomb that is the major print media.

4) Manage your expectations:

One thing I love about start ups is the passion. The men and women who work in start ups give there all and believe more than anything that their product or service is the best in the world. Realistically you are not selling sliced bread or reinventing the wheel. If you reach out to a journalist or an analyst and they say your service is junk, don’t fly off the handle and think they have no idea what they are talking about. The reason you reached out to a journalist is because you wanted their opinion, why ignore it because you don’t agree with it. Reliaze you will have to win people over and SHOW them why you are great.

5) Choose a firm with care:

Realize that no two PR firms are the same, if you choose to hire an outside PR firm do your research. Some PR firms just push press releases, which is a fine service if that is what you want, others that are more expensive offer costly advice and council; great if you intend to use that advice. Look for past clients of a PR firm, talk to them and really understand the PR firm before you sign the dotted line.

While none of this advice is set in stone they are some simple things to consider before launching into the world of Public Relations.