The Incendiary PR Question…

I have been Blog AWOL for the past few weeks as work and family life have taken precedence.

I see that Mike Butcher over at TechCrunch UK has asked the ultimate "light fuse and stand back" question:


"Which firm, or which individual PR person, is the best for tech/mobile startups (either in the UK or Ireland)?"


Of course there’s loads of opinions, observations and war stories in the comments. You also see the same old chestnuts and sales pitches, but it’s worth a read while you’re killing time today.

For what it’s worth, from some experience I have in the area of pitching and selecting the right and wrong PR agencies for start-ups, I’d say the following:

  • DIY is over-rated: Unless you’ve just invented the first commercially available time machine, or you’re willing to invest in in-house PR resources, you will probably benefit from external PR support.  The idea that the CEO will have the time, knowledge or inclination to drive PR is a fallacy
  • PR selection is hard: PR is a people business.  Your agency will succeed with good people.  The search, selection and retention of good people is one of the biggest issues facing every company, start-up, small, medium and large. That’s why PR selection is hard – make sure you meet the team…
  • Invest your time: Want success?  Then you need to invest valuable time with your agency.  You need to brief them, support them, respond to them and drive them. Throwing some VC cash at an agency and waiting for the return is a bad use of shareholder funds.
  • Research: Go and talk to your investors, your peers, your family and friends, advisors, media.  Look at companies whose profile you admire. Ask around.
  • Clarity: Be clear on your expectations.  Create a briefing document.  Provide it to your short-listed agencies up front.  Engage with them in the pre-pitch process.  Make sure your own management are engaged and clear in their expectations. Be clear in your mind how you want your agency to spend their time in terms of execution, strategy, messaging etc.
  • Your value: There are a number of elements you can bring to the table: a real business proposition, your passion, your story telling and your time. Bring them.
  • Remember: A PR firm brings your company a range of things: perspective; objectivity; experience; contacts; knowledge and scale – if you don’t value these things, then see point #1.


Update: Just added the last point.