Why the PR agency model isn’t right for startups
It’s like 28 days later….here in London. Every year I watch more startup zombies, collectively gravitating, arms stretched out in front of them, towards PR agencies, looking for that all-important, business-changing media coverage fix. Naturally, PR agencies welcome said zombies with open arms and promise them the moon on a stick. Why? Agencies have staff to pay and they love a challenge, but the reality is, the agency model, no matter how big or small, is not designed to deliver what a new startup needs.
Startups or founders with little to no PR experience will only ever get 30-50% productivity out of a PR agency, and the reason for this is because a PR agency doesn’t have time to nurture and educate startups. In agency-land time is money. A hard-working press office takes time to deliver results, and every minute the agency staff spend educating their client, they’re not speaking to media, or negotiating that all-important brand collaboration.
Don’t get me wrong, I love PR agencies – I run one, and have done for the last seven years. The work I have seen many agencies do for start-ups is admirable, but let’s create positive change with a little education, to ensure that every startup gets 100% productivity when they hire an agency – it will be more motivating all round, and will mean that investors see the dividends they expect. I am taking a day a week out of agency life to educate startups – I have challenged myself to reach 500 startups before the end of the year.
If startups can learn the PR basics, there will come a time when hiring a PR agency is the best thing they can do – buying in creativity, ideas, talent and resource. Here is my list of the ‘top 5 things a startup must know before hiring an agency’:
- How a press office / media works
- What makes a good PR story
- How to talk about your brand / business
- What PR outcomes will really impact the bottom line
- How to identify PR-able content from within the business
Do PR is a training company designed to give startups the skills they need to effectively hire a PR agency, or to do PR themselves.