Why Startups Should Invest in PR

We’ve asked ourselves the question before: Should startup companies with shoestring budgets spend their crucial capital on public relations services?

Of course we always wanted to answer “yes”, but now we have some testimony to back that answer up. According to Ken Gaebler‘s recent PR Daily post, a PR investment “boosts a company’s chances of getting acquired”. He cites his own personal experience, writing that his own tech startup used PR services to help make the big sale–and that any emerging business that chooses to avoid PR firms could end up depressing the value of its own product.

Gaebler’s points:

  • Most investors learn about new opportunities by tracking industry news, attending events and speaking to analysts
  • Startups with no PR initiatives will be far less likely to show up on these investors’ radar screens

Tech is in some ways a small, “everybody knows everybody else” industry–but that doesn’t mean that potential investors can just ask their buddies about the latest startup candidates. Unless a company has some serious backers who double as tech celebrities, it’s going to need attention from relevant media outlets (and this means more than just a digital press release and a Facebook page).

Gaebler makes another point: Having a third party tell others how great your product is will almost always be more impressive than singing your own praises to anyone who will listen (even if you are paying that third party for the service).

In 2011, Inc. Magazine published a list of suggestions for startups looking to get good press. Most of these amount to obvious points like “use all the cheap social media services you can” and “reach out to media contacts”, but the list also includes options like “form partnerships” and “take on public speaking roles” that probably don’t come naturally to the stereotypical tech dude. That’s where PR pros come in.

Key question: what can PR services do for startups that they can’t do for themselves?