Here at 451 Marketing, we’ve worked with some fantastic start-ups over the years. The relationship between start-ups and PR teams is mutually beneficial – not only is public relations essential to the life of a growing company, but it’s exhilarating from our perspective to help a brand find its wings. But while it may seem like a no-brainer for a young company to bring on a PR agency, the decision to do so requires some soul-searching and legwork before it can be effective.
In order for a start-up’s relationship with an agency to flourish into a successful PR program, here are the eight questions we recommend asking within your organization before deciding to make the investment:
1. Do we have a marketing plan?
And unfortunately no, it’s not your PR agency’s job to create it. Rather, your PR team will build a thoughtful and effective PR strategy based off the marketing initiatives you already have in place, making it truly a collaborative and efficient effort.
2. Who within our organization will manage our agency relationship?
We understand that start-ups are small and a passion project for likely the entire executive team, but it’s ideal to assign a marketing or communications person to manage the agency relationship. There are so many moving parts when getting a start-up off the ground, and the CEO should be focusing his or her time on driving them forward. Your dedicated in-house contact will work hand-in-hand on executing a successful campaign with the agency as its extension, while the CEO focuses on the big picture.
3. Do we have a strong sense of who our brand is?
Your PR team is here to tell your story to the media and potential customers, but you need to have a strong sense of your brand’s identity before that can happen. A PR team ready to roll up their sleeves will come to your kick-off meeting asking about your brand’s voice, mission, business goals, key differentiators, and competitors. You can change the aesthetics once you have an agency, but who you are today needs to be defined.
4. Is our website consistent and optimized?
In a similar vein, your website needs to be in tip-top shape on the front and back-end. When media outreach begins, we want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward, and your website’s aesthetic, usability, and Google search rank will have a significant influence on your brand’s first impression and credibility moving forward.
5. What is our PR budget?
It shouldn’t be a surprise that you’ll need budget for a PR campaign, but it’s important to delineate between what you’ve set aside for marketing. Your PR campaign will complement a larger marketing initiative, but it’s important for your team to have a clear-cut sense of what resources will be available to achieve the scope of your PR program.
6. What is PR? What isn’t PR?
If you’ve noticed a theme of delineating between PR, marketing, and advertising, you’re right on the money. Having a baseline sense of what constitutes a PR initiative will help you set and manage expectations within your organization and more clearly define your goals and budget for the campaign.
7. How long are we willing to commit to a PR program?
Immediate results are ideal, but PR is a commitment that requires some lead-time to build a strong foundation, including a press kit, a library of content, and relationships with media on your brand’s behalf. At 451 Marketing, we typically recommend a minimum of six months, a year ideally, in order for a new client to see the full potential of their PR program. No matter how successful a three month project is, it won’t have reached its full potential within that short timeframe.
8. Who is our key spokesperson?
A spokesperson is a key component of any PR program, so it’s essential that you identify someone within your organization who is able to accurately communicate your brand’s essence and mission easily and with passion. Once you pick someone, it’s up to your PR team to make them camera ready.
Starting a new business is an exciting endeavor, and by making sure you’ve addressed these eight elements, you’ll be positioned for a successful launch. Start-ups, did you ask yourself these questions before bringing on a PR agency?