Thursday 27 May 2010

PR demistified

I'm not a great fan of PR agencies for startups. I've worked with 5 of them, from the big ones to the small ones and they didn't impressed me (except one with a very clear task). They are fairly expensive and in most cases they try to sell the fact that they know celebrities and top blogs like TechCrunch. Second big selling point is that they are going to provide you with communication strategy. Third one is clipping, following of mentions in the media.

The truth is that top bloggers can separate the weed from the gold. They are actually quite easy to get to just make sure that you're not wasting their time. Send them email, where your subject is not "revolutionary new social network" but rather wrote something meaningful. Go to conferences, stop them and give them your 15sec pitch. Follow up, develop a relationship. It's going to be much more meaningful than spending thousands of dollars for and introduction to a few of them.

Communication strategy sounds great, but the fact is that it most often boils down to the shape that fits well with the PR's mailing list. Here two things is going to happen. First, an expensive one pager is going to be created, probably matched with a quote or two. The content is going to come from you, b/c the nice lady (typically a "director" of some sort) will typically be clueless about what you're actually doing.  Second, they are going to recommend that they send it to a news wire service (which is going to cost you additionally).

Clipping is an interesting service that makes sense with traditional media, however since you're mostly going to be present online, it's exactly what Google and Google News does for you.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do believe that PR agencies have their place in the world, particularly in the corporate one. I just don't believe they found a meaningful model for startups yet.
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