On Fast Company, Mark Suster advises entrepreneurs on using PR firms for their start-up companies. He says: "One of the most frequent questions entrepreneurs ask about when they raise a little bit of money or are getting close to launching their first product is whether they should hire a PR firm.
"There is obviously no black-or-white answer, but I've tried everything from working with a large international agency, to hiring in-house people to doing it myself."
He gives readers the benefit of his experience with this guide:
1) PR is a process, not an event. Suster advises against organising PR around "milestones", as it should be a continual process.
He adds: "You need to take months and years to build relationships with journalists. You help them on stories, act as a source, develop real relationships, read their stories and eventually when you have news they're more willing to have a conversation."
2) PR can't be delegated. While you should have somebody who can help you research journalists, get you meetings, pitch stories and help you with preparation, it's a mistake for start-up CEOs to delegate interviews to junior people. Remember, the journalist is writing a story about you.
3) PR on a limited budget. If you've raised only a modest sum of money and want to get coverage, Suster recommends that you resist the temptation to hire a large, well-known PR firm because you won't have the budget to get sufficient focus from the senior team. Go for a small, local firm or someone working as their own agency as your business will be more important to them.
Alternatively, you could hire somebody in-house. Suster says: "You can do this by hiring somebody who has multiple functions of which one is PR, hiring an intern who has PR experience, hiring a consultant two days a week or hiring somebody full time."
• Be authentic and don't try to 'spin' news.
• Have a point of view (don't sit on the fence).
• Don't cry wolf over every piece of news.
• Get media training.
How to Use PR Firms At Start-ups