What a Difference a Year Makes: Foursquare Hires PR Firm; Grows Up?

Last October, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley told PRNewser that his fast growing location-based service had no need for a PR agency — or much of a marketing team at all, for that matter — because “PR pretty much takes care of itself.” As recently as this past June, Crowley said having a publicist would be “overkill.”

Just this week, however, Foursquare hired Kaplow PR, a mid-sized firm known in technology circles mostly for their work as PR agency of record for Skype. It seems like a smart move, and could be the clearest sign yet that Foursquare has “grown up” and is more ready than ever to go mainstream.

While Kaplow works with Skype and other tech clients, they also have the ability to bring Foursquare to new audiences (read: not just the tech/digital media blogs). Clearly there is room for growth. A Pew Internet study released this week revealed that “4 percent of online Americans use location-based services.”

Meanwhile, Foursquare is growing fast, surpassing four million users. However, the company is still well under 50 employees. It’s first PR hire was Erin Gleason, whom Foursquare poached from Google. And it faces stiff competition from Facebook, which is aggressively rolling out location-based features, including a “Deals” product for business this week. PRNewser wants to know if you’ll be using either (or both) services, in our weekly poll.

The hiring of Kaplow seems to signify a moment for Foursquare that PRNewser has seen many companies go through when they are growing fast: a good PR strategy is more than just appearing in a few of their industry’s top publications. In tech, some have called it the “TechCrunch”syndrome, in reference to many a start up CEO who believes the only PR they need is coverage in the popular tech blog. Foursquare, for quite some time now, doesn’t just need that. They need to keep growing their user base. Fast.