For a lot of startups, public relations (PR) is one of the most important and fundamental tools behind their growth. Good PR helps build brand awareness and trust, which is vital for startups. It also helps to create a positive image of a business, bridge the communication gap between you and your customers, and much more.
On the other hand, bad PR can seriously damage a brand’s reputation. It can cause confusion around products and services, send the wrong message to customers, and is a waste of money.
For these reasons, if you’re considering working with a PR agency as a startup, here are some of the most important things to consider.
Ask Around for Personal Recommendations
When trusting a company with something as important as your PR, there is no stronger assurance than having someone you trust recommend an agency. Online reviews and testimonials are great, but you never know if you’re getting the complete story. The same goes for speaking with an agency yourself, you’re only getting their pitch.
If you can find someone who has worked with a PR agency and are happy to recommend them, you’d be crazy not to at least reach out to that agency and talk to them.
Be Sure They Understand Your Business before Committing
Running PR for startups requires a special set of skills from the team that will be working with you. Startups often have little if any presence or brand recognition, so it’s essential any PR starts off on the same page as you’re on as it can define your business.
The only way to do this is to discuss your business with an agency you’re interested in working with, then see what plan or strategy they come up with. The key is to not take a leap of faith. If an agency doesn’t feel or sound like a good fit – don’t work with them.
Ask about Their Industry Contacts and Connections
The most successful PR agencies are well connected. PR relies heavily on media coverage, so having connections in the media can springboard any PR campaign.
Check that any prospective agencies you’re interested in are well-connected within your industry. The more doors they can open, the quicker and more successful your PR will be.
Look At Their Past Work
PR agencies are usually quick to show off their portfolio of successful campaigns and big names they’ve worked with. Part of your due diligence should be flicking through their portfolio to see how they operate.
This doesn’t mean ruling out a newer agency. As a startup, we’re sure you appreciate how hard it can be to get those all-important first customers. But the newness of an agency should be one of the things you consider when deciding on an agency.
Meet the Team in Person
PR is a very personable and people-orientated process. You should never make a decision without first meeting the people who you would be working with and who will be representing your business.
Think about it this way: there will be people within a PR agency writing content on your behalf, possibly answering questions, and informing your customers about your products. It’s an extension of your business, and you wouldn’t entrust that to just anyone internally. This is why it’s so important you choose a PR agency carefully, and even more so that you know the individuals who will be managing your PR.